NSTA Legislative Update: House Marks up FY2018 Appropriations

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) marked up their FY2018 education budget on Thursday; despite a lower funding level overall from last year, lawmakers seek to cut the Department of Education by $2.4 billion, or 3.5 percent. President Trump proposed cutting the Department’s budget by 13 percent (about $9.2 billion). Highlights:

  • Provides $500 million funding to the Title IV block created by the Every Student Succeeds Act. The current funding level is $400m, and the authorized level for this program is $1.6 billion. President Trump eliminated funding for this program in his budget.
  • The bill does not fund the Title II program under ESSA as Title II, Part A. Trump’s budget also calls for eliminating this program.
  • Funds the 21st Century Learning Centers Program at $1 billion — down from $1.2 billion in funding this year. The President eliminated this program in his budget proposal.
  • The bill funds Title I at $15.9 billion, similar to its funding for the current year. The House did not allocate $1 billion in Title I money to a new grant program that would allow students to attend the public school of their choice, and they did not include $250 million that the Trump administration wanted to expand and study vouchers.
  • Provides $12.2 billion in funding for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a $200 million increase from the current level of funding.
  • Increases funding for charter schools by $28 million, bringing it to a total of $370 million
  • The legislation also calls for a $1.1 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (the President had proposed reducing funding for NIH by $5.8 billion)

The full Appropriations Committee is expected to take action on this bill later this week.

Science Teachers Speak Out on Science Testing in Every Student Succeeds Act 

In late June, NSTA and the STEM Education Coalition sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, stating our concerns that their feedback to Delaware and other states about their state plans to implement ESSA was widely viewed in education policy circles as discouraging states from including science in their state accountability systems under the new federal education law. These concerns were covered in numerous press stories over the past two weeks and got national attention, including coverage in the Washington Post and New York Times.

The Department of Education responded to our letter, reaffirming that they support state usage of science testing in compliance with the ESSA requirements and further clarified the Department’s intent was not to discourage the use of science scores.  Read the letter from NSTA and the STEM Ed Coalition here and the Department of Education letter here.

STEM in ESSA Detailed in New Achieve Brief

On Wednesday, Achieve released a new brief examining ways in which the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) supports STEM education.  The brief outlines states’ current goals and approaches to science inclusion in their accountability plans under ESSA, as well as how they can leverage funding opportunities in ESSA to support science. (The brief limits its scope to only those 16 states and the District of Columbia who submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) in the first round of ESSA state submissions this past May.) From the report, “Of the 16 states and the District of Columbia that have submitted ESSA plans to date, ten states (see table, below) are including science in their accountability system. All ten of these states are including science assessment as part of an academic achievement or proficiency indicator.

States Proposing to Include Science in Their Accountability Systems Under ESSA


Academic Achievement

Grades 4, 8, and high school


Academic Achievement

Grades 3–11


Academic Achievement

Grades 5, 8, and 10


Academic Achievement4

Grades 5, 8, and 10


Academic Achievement

Grades 3–8 and high school end-of-course


Academic Achievement

Grades 5, 8, and 10


Academic Achievement

Grades 4, 7, and 11


Academic Achievement

Grades 8 and 10


Academic Achievement Goal

Grade band success rate in 3–5, 6–8, and high school


School Quality or Student Success

Grades 4, 8, and 11

The report also looks at how often, and in which grades, states administered science assessments for school year 2016–17, how federal funding can be used for STEM education, and how states intend to leverage ESSA to support STEM.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is the 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 jpeterson@nsta.org 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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