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DeVos Releases ‘Guide’ for Parents to Understand Report Cards Mandated by Federal Law

Betsy DeVos DeVos Releases ‘Guide’
Alex Brandon/AP

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has released a “guide” for parents to help them understand the information mandated by federal education law to be provided on their children’s report cards.

“Parents deserve to know what is happening in their child’s school,” DeVos said in a statement announcing the new guide. She added:

They should not have to parse through a 500-page legal document to understand how a law or policy affects their children’s education. This guide demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing parents with user-friendly tools and the information necessary to make informed decisions. Informed parents become empowered and engaged parents who are able to better advocate on behalf of their children.

Ironically, the federal “guide” is titled “A Parent Guide to State and Local Report Cards.” DeVos is advertising the guide as a means to achieve “transparency” about the accountability requirements of the federal law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

In the guide, the education department explains that ESSA requires student report cards to display information about how much money from federal, state, and local sources is spent per student for each school. The law also mandates that report cards provide results of annual statewide tests in reading, English language arts, math, and science, and results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

According to the department, ESSA states report cards must also provide parents with information about school disciplinary measures such as number of suspensions, expulsions, arrests, and incidents of violence in schools.

Additionally, the federal education law requires all parents to receive information about English-language learners, children with disabilities, and foster and homeless children in their schools on their children’s report cards.

DeVos has touted ESSA as the means to bring about more state flexibility in control of education, though state education plans must still be approved by the federal government. The secretary has also said on several occasions that ESSA has done away with the Common Core standards, though some 42 states are still using the Common Core standards or its “rebrands.”

In a recent article at the Federalist, Utah parent organizer Autumn Foster Cook wrote about ESSA:

Contrary to lawmakers’ promises, ESSA did not free states to pursue independent educational goals, nor reduce reliance on testing. DeVos’s administration seems inclined to enforce the constraints as rigidly as possible, with little deference to state law and parental rights, despite precisely opposite rhetoric from DeVos, the Trump administration, and Republican congressional leadership that rushed ESSA into passage shortly before Barack Obama left office.

Shane Vander Hart also wrote at Truth in American Education that ESSA essentially cemented Common Core – and its standardized tests – into every state in the country.

“Sure, the U.S. Department of Education is not actively pushing Common Core, they don’t need to,” Vander Hart explained. “The standards and assessment consortiums don’t need to be funded anymore. The damage is done. They don’t need to publicly push it because ESSA essentially codified Common Core.”

The education department is hosting a “design challenge” contest for the new report cards.

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