Education Week - January 20, 2016 - (Page 18)
Nevada's Sweeping School Choice Law
Placed on Hold After Judge's Ruling
CHARTERS & CHOICE | Implementation of Nevada's new school
choice program has been put on hold until a final decision is made on
whether the program is constitutional.
The state treasurer's office was supposed to start providing
money to more than 4,000 families enrolled in the program
starting in February, according to the Associated Press. Opponents
of the law asked for an injunction in November, which a state
district judge from Carson City granted Jan. 11.
Nevada's education savings account program was created by
the legislature last June and allows all public school parents to
use state education funding allocated for their child to attend
private schools (including those affiliated with a religion) or
to home school. The state places the funds, a little over $5,000
a year, in special savings accounts, which parents can use for
approved education expenses-such as tuition, tutors, and
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the state is
expected to appeal the judge's decision and that Gov. Brian
Sandoval, a Republican, wants to get an expedited final ruling on
the law from the Nevada Supreme Court.
Implementation of the education savings account program has
been a struggle for the state from the get-go. Not only is the law
facing two other lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, there is
no playbook for state officials to go by because the program is the
first of its kind in terms of its scope.
Although education savings accounts exist in a handful of
other states, they are limited to select, small populations.
Nevada is the first to offer ESAs to all public school students.
Cognitive-Game Company Lumosity
To Pay $2 Million to Settle Federal Claim
| MARKETPLACE K-12 | The company Lumosity has agreed to pay
$2 million to settle a federal complaint that alleged claims about
the benefits of its cognitive games for students and adults were not
sufficiently backed up by science.
The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission is part of a
stipulated court order for $50 million against Lumosity, a judgment
the agency has agreed to suspend as long as the company follows the
conditions of the court order.
As part of the agreement, the San Francisco-based company will be
barred from stating that its products improve student performance
in school or sports, and can help stave off the onset of age-related
cognitive decline, unless Lumosity can meet certain thresholds
for evidence. Among them: The company's claims must be shown
to be "non-misleading" and backed up by "competent and reliable"
"The decision to settle with the FTC will allow the company
to move on and continue delivering its research-based cognitive
training platform to its millions of active and future users,"
Lumosity said in a statement to Education Week.
Alexander Would Assure Swift Action
On Any Education Secretary Nominee
POLITICS K-12 | If President Barack Obama nominates an
education secretary, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the
Senate education chairman, pledges he'll move to immediately
on a confirmation of that nominee.
"I said to President Obama at the [Every Student Succeeds Act]
signing ceremony in December that I would strongly recommend
that he nominate an education secretary, that I didn't think it
was appropriate to go a whole year, the last year of his term, and
not have someone confirmed and accountable to the Senate,"
Alexander said at a hearing of the committee Jan. 12. "And if
he would send him or her up, I'd pledge to have an immediate
hearing and markup and, barring some kind of scandal, work
to have that person immediately confirmed. And I still hope the
president will do that."
Josh Earnest, the president's press secretary, said earlier this
month that he didn't think Acting U.S. Secretary of Education
John King would get a fair shake from a "stridently partisan" GOP
But Alexander said a confirmed secretary is especially important
given the role that King and his team will play in implementing ESSA.
For his part, King has said the nomination is up to the White
House, but that he doesn't feel hamstrung by his "acting"
18 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 20, 2016 | www.edweek.org
Ed. Dept. Gets Advocates' Views
On Preparing ESSA Regulations
By Alyson Klein
The Every Student Succeeds Act may be the law of
the land, but there are plenty of pieces of the latest
edition of the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act that will need to be clarified through regulation.
To kick that process off, the U.S. Department of
Education is seeking input from a broad range of
advocates, educators, associations, and the general
public. It's asking for written comments by Jan. 21,
and also using a pair of public meetings to get inperson opinions.
Unsurprisingly, advocates at the first meeting-held
Jan. 11 in Washington-offered conflicting advice on
the direction the department should take on regulations under the newly revised law. The second hearing
was scheduled for Jan. 19 in Los Angeles.
Representatives of state and district officials,
such as the Council of Chief State School Officers
and AASA, the School Superintendents Association,
reminded the Obama administration of restrictions
on its power in ESSA and suggested a light touch.
But civil rights and business groups want to see
the Education Department hold states' feet to the
fire, including on such parts of the law as the requirement that 95 percent of students take part in
state assessments. (Under ESSA, as under the previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind
Act, 95 percent of students are supposed to take assessments. But it's up to states to decide what happens to schools that miss targets.)
Civil rights and business advocates also urged the
department to set boundaries around how much
academic vs. nonacademic factors have to count in
state accountability systems.
At times, advocates got technical. For instance,
several asked the department to think carefully
about setting parameters for "n-sizes." That term
refers to the minimum number of students a school
or district must have from a particular subgroup,
such as English-language learners, for the group
to count for accountability purposes under the federal law. Under the NCLB law, n-sizes approved by
the Education Department ranged from 75 to 5.
Here's a sample of points made in last week's testimony, in the order advocates spoke:
Alliance for Excellent Education:
ESSA regulations should
ensure that schools don't
"mask" graduation rates and
achievement of historically
overlooked groups of students.
And graduation rates should
play a big enough part in the
accountability picture to trigger
interventions in schools where
lots of students are dropping out.
Council of Chief State School Officers:
The Education Department
should use the regulatory
process to clarify the parts of
ESSA that are confusing, such
as how the transition from the
previous version of the law and
NCLB waivers will work. But
he said, generally, the CCSSO
"urges the department to provide
clear and timely interpretative
guidance only when necessary to
resolve uncertainties." In other
words, the department should
let states be in the driver's seat
Leadership Conference on Civil and
The department must make
sure that ESSA retains the
underlying ESEA's civil rights
legacy. That means communities
of color, low-income communities,
American Indian tribes, and
others should have a seat at
the table in the development of
state accountability plans. And
the department should enforce
ESSA's requirement that 95
percent of students participate
in state tests so that "all
students are taken into account."
National Head Start Association:
The Education Department
should give clear guidance on how
districts and Head Start centers
collaborate. Districts should also
receive "clear information" about
how they can use federal K-12
aid for early-learning programs.
Also, the Education Department
should begin working with
the Department of Health and
Human Services, which oversees
Head Start, on the new earlylearning program created under
National Council of La Raza:
Make sure that states with
many English-language learners
give serious weight to Englishlanguage proficiency.
National Alliance for Public Charter
The regulations should embrace
"robust assessments," which are
critical to school accountability
and a "critical component" of
measuring the success of charter
schools. Washington should
make sure states are primarily
considering student achievement
for school accountability, as
opposed to "soft indicators."
LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA,
National Education Association:
ESSA will be a "monumental
transition" because it requires
deep collaboration at every
level: the state, the district, and
even the school building. The
Education Department should
allow time for that collaboration
to take place and not rush the
regulatory process. Make sure,
she said, that the "people who
actually know the names of the
kids"-parents and teachers-
are at the table.
Center for American Progress:
Help states move toward better
and fewer tests. Spell out
ways that states can ensure
standards actually get students
ready for college and career.
Clarify key terms in the law
on accountability. Make sure
states actually require equitable
distribution of teachers. (Lack of
enforcement of that provision was
a big problem under the NCLB
law.) And the department should
not be "overly prescriptive" and
close off possible innovative
approaches to accountability.
New Jersey parent and
representative of Save Our Schools:
Voiced worry that the new
law continues the NCLB law's
regime of testing students every
year in grades 3-8 and once in
high school. "From where I sit
as a professional, the tests are a
waste of time and money. ESSA
doesn't go far enough in" paring
them back, she said.
Council of the Great City Schools:
The Education Department should
make it clear right away that
districts no longer have to set aside
money for outdated NCLB-style
interventions: public school choice
and tutoring. Make sure peer
reviewers are real practitioners.
And "recognize restraint" in the
National Association for Music
Let states hold schools
accountable for ensuring access to
music and arts education.
classroom teacher from New York
Said she is concerned the
federal government may be too
heavy-handed in regulating
the decisions of parents who
want to opt their children out of
standardized tests. Her school
had an 18 percent opt-out rate
on tests, and she doesn't want to
see federal money withheld as a
result. "Why would you punish
me" for a parent's choice, she
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 20, 2016
Education Week - January 20, 2016
ESSA Challenges Ahead for States
25 Years In, TFA Faces Tensions, Courts Change
Flint, Mich., Reels From Water Crisis
Opt-Out Activists Eye Fresh Battlefronts
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Open Ed. Resources Get Boost From ESSA
News in Brief
Book Highlights Practical Guidance For Teaching Reading
College Testing Season Marred By Score Delays, Snafus
Blogs of the Week
Unions on Defensive as High Court Hears Dispute Involving Fees
In Home Stretch, Obama Vows to Push On Education Priorities
Ed. Dept. Gets Advocates’ Views On Preparing ESSA Regulations
DONALD M. FEUERSTEIN: The ‘Inconvenient Truth’ of Student Debt
JAMES LYTLE: The NCAA’s Chokehold On Secondary Schooling
FLORINA RODOV: Your College Essay Isn’t a Selfie
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
RICHARD WEISSBOURD: College Admission 2.0: Service Over Self
Education Week - January 20, 2016