Do any parents know anything about Washington State's ESSA plan?

Washington State submitted its ESSA plan to the feds last week. But you already knew that, right?

Wait, you didn’t? You don’t even know what ESSA is?

Fear not. You’re not alone. Nobody else I know seems to know anything about it either.

Washington State really did submit its plan for accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last week, and I really don’t think anybody knows anything about it.

I posed these three questions about our ESSA plan in Washington to a rather small sample of 11 parents of school-age kids:

  1. What will Washington State do differently based on the new plan?

  2. How will Washington State let me know how our schools are doing?

  3. What will Washington State do with the schools it considers least effective?

I know that answers to these questions do exist. I know that the parents I asked are engaged, thoughtful parents. I know that the state did, in theory, make efforts to communicate with parents about the ESSA plan as it was being drafted. I don’t know, however, if anybody actually heard anything they said.

Here was the most accurate answer I received to any of the three questions:

What will Washington State do differently based on the new plan?
“More state control, less federal mandates.” (And for what it’s worth, this parent’s next two answers were both “not sure.”)

Here was the most thoughtful answer:
“I don't know anything about ESSA or how the school district or state will integrate the new accountability plan. That is not to say that it hasn't been communicated by the district - maybe it has - but I went and looked back at all the emails that I've gotten from SPS over the last few months and none of them mention this new plan. I'd have to look through the paperwork sent home with the kids to see if anything is in there, but you know how unreliable that is as a mechanism for communicating information to parents.”

And here, at last, was the answer most representative of all the rest of the answers:
“Never heard of it. Hope to see you guys soon.”

The state just developed and submitted a plan that says, hey, this is what we think we should do with our schools, and this is what should happen if we fall short. And most parents seem to know almost nothing about it.

That’s weird.

Have you been keeping up with the transition from No Child Left Behind to ESSA? Do you know what we can expect to change in our schools? Do you feel like you’ve been kept well-informed?