ESSA—What’s in YOUR State Plan?


States stakeholders are working now to develop plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These state plans will include new guidelines for accountability and much more. Plans are due to the U.S. Department of Education in either April or September this year. 

Do you know what is in your state’s plan for ESSA? Do you know if it mentions science or STEM education?

Now is the time to help frame and define ESSA in a way that incorporates STEM teaching and learning.

What Can You Do?

It is critical that educators review and provide input to ESSA state plans because they can and will affect teaching and learning for years to come. You have the power to impact your state’s plan by promoting STEM as a critical piece of a well-rounded education.

These states have indicated they are submitting their plans by April: AZ, CO, DE, IL, LA, MA,, MI, MO, MT, NV, NJ, NM, ND, OH, OR, TN, VT, DC.

To find out more about your state plan for ESSA, visit your state’s department of education website.

To learn more about how you can reach out to state leaders about your state plan, learn more about the Student Success with STEM Campaign which contains outreach materials including alerts, mobilization challenges, overview of the law, and talk points to ensure that STEM is in state ESSA plans.

To learn more about ESSA and science/STEM visit

President Trump Calls for Voucher Program during Congressional Address

During his February 28 address to Congress, Trump called on lawmakers to “pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African American and Latino children.”

 “These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them,” Trump told lawmakers, while offering few details about how to pay for such a program or the political ramifications to public education.  

 Politico reported last month that the Administration is considering creating a tax credit scholarship program that would allow people and companies to   allocate tax money to nonprofits that administer choice scholarships and cover students’ tuition or expenses. Read a National Council on State Legislatures overview of Scholarship Tax Credits here.

Read more about the address and the President’s proposal here.

Bracing for Budget Cuts?

President Trump last week also proposed a $54 billion increase in defense spending with corresponding cuts to non-defense spending. Although there are no details as yet, key lawmakers are hinting of a possible 12 percent drop in spending for these programs in FY2018.  Education advocates are bracing for what may be massive cuts to federal education programs—including programs under ESSA– since education (and health and labor) programs make up about one-third of all non-defense discretionary spending.

The White House has said it plans to send a “final budget blueprint” to Congress by March 16, and a final budget will be public in early May.

During his address to Congress, the President called for a school voucher program to be created (see above), and while no details on how this would be funded were released, media sources are reporting that the Administration is considering the creation of a federal tax credit scholarship that would allow low income families to send children to private schools, including religious schools.

President Signs Two STEM Bills into Law

President Trump signed two bills into law that focus on bolstering women in science, technology, engineering and math. The INSPIRE Women Act (H.R. 321) directs NASA to provide a report to House and Senate committees about how current and former astronauts and other staff can promote STEM in schools. The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 255) authorizes the National Science Foundation to expand its educational and professional programs for women into the commercial sector. The measures call for gender diversity in these fields but provide no new funding.

And finally

Last month the House overturned the Obama Administration’s accountability rule for the regulation governing teacher preparation programs. Ten Senate Republicans have filed a measure to get rid of the teacher prep regulations. The American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) Action Alert system is working to rescind the teacher prep regulations in the Senate. Go here.

Most in the education community are opposed to the teacher preparation rules and believe changes made by the federal government should be part of the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Jodi Peterson is Assistant Executive Director of Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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1 Response to ESSA—What’s in YOUR State Plan?

  1. Caitlyn says:

    I am genuinely curious – what value is there to passing legislation that encourages women in STEM without providing any new resources to recruit and retain them?

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