NDRN Opposes Proposal to Roll Back ESSA Education Accountability Regulations

smiling children, with the word LEARN in felt

by Andy Jones
February 15, 2017

In a letter to members of the House of Representatives [PDF] dated February 3, the National Disability Rights Network demanded that they reject a proposal to weaken federal education accountability measures in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“NDRN believes that the ESSA accountability regulations are critical for meaningful implementation of ESSA,” the NDRN wrote in the letter. “The regulations clarify the statutory language in ESSA, build upon ESSA’s flexibility for school improvement and provide a clarified role for families, educators and stakeholders to share in the implementation process.

“Perhaps, most importantly, the final regulations maintain the civil rights legacy of the law by meaningfully including all students, including students with disabilities."

Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act In December 2015, the successor to the No Child Left Behind Act, which many disability advocates credit for bringing needed transparency to educational disparities between children with and without disabilities. The ESSA maintains the NCLB’s basic testing and accountability structure, but provides states more flexibility to create their own solutions for meeting academic standards.

The Obama Administration released final implementing regulations at the end of November 2016, setting forth requirements for, among other things, how states identify underperforming schools and underperforming subpopulations within schools, such as students with disabilities. It also listed a variety of ways that school districts can demonstrate that they are working to improve outcomes for these populations.

For many members of the House, who would prefer more local control over education policy, the regulations retain too much authority with the federal government.

On February 7, the House voted 234 to 190 to overturn the regulations. The law, House Joint Resolution 57, is pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn executive regulations within 60 days of when they go into effect.

A companion bill is now before the Senate.

“ESSA was a successful bi-partisan effort to improve education for all students built upon the frame of accountability,” the NDRN wrote in the letter. “To rescind these regulations would not only be a disservice to the spirit of ESSA and diminish the efficacy of the law, but would also serve to undermine the equity of educational opportunity for all students, including students with disabilities.”

Disability Rights Washington is the designated protection and advocacy agency in Washington and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.