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What do the final regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act mandate?

Last week, we discussed how the U.S. Education Department made headlines when it called upon school officials in states where corporal punishment is still legal -- including Florida -- to abandon this antiquated and largely harmful practice.

As it turns out, the federal agency is once again making news, announcing just today that it will be releasing the new regulations outlining what the states need to do to ensure compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal replacement passed with bipartisan support last year to replace No Child Left Behind.

What will these new regulations require?

The new regulations set forth the criteria that the states should use to determine which schools are thriving and which schools are in need of assistance.

For example, they dictate that while schools will need to continue administering standardized tests measuring aptitude in reading and math in the third through the eighth grade, and once in high school, they will also be able to use more than just test scores to measure school performance, considering factors like access to Advanced Placement courses and chronic absenteeism.

Were any of the criticisms made in response to the draft rules released in May addressed by the Education Department?

It appears that some of these criticisms were indeed addressed. For example, the universally slammed requirement that states must identify troubled schools by the end of the 2017-2018 academic year was extended by another year.

What about the school ratings?  

For those who are perhaps unfamiliar with this, the draft rules dictated that the states needed to combine all information gathered on individual schools into a single rating, much like a letter grade, to make things easier for parents. This provision, however, was universally condemned.

In its place, the Education Department has dictated that states will only need to put schools into one of three categories, including schools requiring no special identification, those requiring "targeted" support (i.e., underachieving subgroups of students), and those requiring "comprehensive" support (i.e., lowest performing 5 percent of schools and high schools with graduation rates of less than 67 percent).

Will these regulations matter going forward?

While it remains to be seen, President-elect Trump vowed for less federal involvement in education on the campaign trail. Experts indicate that this could mean that these regulations are re-drafted entirely or simply unenforced going forward.

Stay tuned for updates …

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions or concerns regarding any education law matter.

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