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ESSA - And Then There Was One!


Ellen Ruane, Advisor

July 24, 2018

In the last week, the US Department of Education signed off on two additional ESSA state plans, putting California and Utah in the approved column, and leaving Florida standing all by itself in the “sorry, not yet” column.

In a June 5th letter from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Florida was advised that its plan still did not meet the requirements, and that failure to submit a revised plan before a July 1, 2018 deadline could lead to the withholding of federal funds. Florida did not meet that deadline. Florida school districts receive about 11.6% of their total funding from federal sources. If the Secretary makes good on her admonition, Florida will be looking at a significant budget shortfall estimated to be over $1 billion and untold impact on the state’s 2.7 million school-aged children.


ESSA and the 2018-2019 School Year

As we embark on another back-to-school season, districts are going to be looking for partnership with vendors more than ever. Why?

1. State rollouts, especially those whose plans were just recently approved, will make their way to the districts slowly. Brand new rules, brand new school year.

2. Evidence of effectiveness. Much of the ESSA-related monies are tied to the concept of evidence of effectiveness. What is the learner impact? Can you prove it? ESSA lays out 4 tiers of evidence and smart EDU vendors will be prepared to show proof of learner impact and “evidence of effectiveness.” Look to What Works Clearinghouse and third-party vetting sites like Evidence for ESSA as part of your strategy for making it easy for your would-be clients.

3. Needs assessments. Title IV Part A funding requires districts to do a needs assessment for any allocation over $30,000. There’s both a caveat and an opportunity here for vendors. Without a needs assessment, your big-ticket spenders may not be able to purchase from you with federal dollars no matter how much they want to. Don’t get to the end of your selling process without confirming, and possibly helping, with that prerequisite.


More than ever it’s important for us to understand how customers are paying for our products, services, and solutions. If you don’t know, ask. If your contact doesn’t know, help them figure it out. As vendors, we’re in a position to thrive or dive thanks to ESSA’s rules. Let’s agree to thrive.


Trying to figure out the best ESSA strategy for your sales and marketing teams? Contact us, we will help you research and strategize a focused approach to ESSA.

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