Now, the National Science Teachers Association and the STEM Education Coalition have sent a letter to the Education Department saying it is misinterpreting the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal K-12 education law that replaced No Child Left Behind, in regard to science and school accountability plans.
The Education Department did not respond to a query about this issue.
The department is reviewing state plans for holding schools accountable as required by ESSA.
In the years after NCLB was passed, many schools began giving short shrift to subjects other than reading and math, including science.
That ran counter to a push in the Obama administration to increase STEM education — that is, science, technology, engineering and math — but it happened nevertheless.
The letter sent to the department, signed by David L. Evans, executive director of the NSTA, and James F. Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition, says the department is telling states that science cannot be a priority as an accountability measure in evaluating student achievement under ESSA.
ESSA was passed after states became disillusioned with NCLB and the heavy-handed way that the Obama administration was implementing education policy. ESSA was supposed to allow students much more flexibility in determining their own accountability plans, and DeVos has said repeatedly that she is determined to allow local control.
Some of the department’s other responses to states about their ESSA accountability plans seemed prescriptive to some local-control advocates. New Mexico and Nevada, for example, were asked to answer a number of questions, including how teachers would be assigned to achieve equity.
For Strauss’ full July 2 story, click here.