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Secret Weapon for ESSA Transparency

Call it a head start. Maybe a cheat sheet. Better yet, an accelerator. Yes, call it an accelerator! Let me guess, your email and social media is bombarded with information, perspectives, concerns, and challenges related…

Call it a head start. Maybe a cheat sheet. Better yet, an accelerator. Yes, call it an accelerator!

Let me guess, your email and social media is bombarded with information, perspectives, concerns, and challenges related to state-level implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

There are big questions about standards, accountability, funding, spending, and, of course, the transparency thereof.

Our friends at the Center for Reinventing Public Education recently asked—and answered—this important question: What’s at Stake in the Ongoing Fight About School Spending Comparability?

Here is the good news. America Succeeds was looking around the corner and getting ahead on this issue several months ago. We think the new Colorado policy, crafted and championed by Colorado Succeeds, is a great roadmap for other states, so we used it as a case study and provide the detailed rundown in our Pulling Back the Curtain report.

In this report, we chronicle the evolution and enactment of signature education policy that unveils how money is being spent at every public school in Colorado. It requires the information be published on an easy-to-access, user-friendly website for full, free utilization by the public.

The measure provides unprecedented access to school-level financial data, such as line item budgets and expenditures. By overlaying this new level of financial detail with other data—like academic performance and staffing—we can finally see how effectively and fairly schools are, or are not, utilizing their available resources.

In line with the new requirements and opportunities of ESSA, Pulling Back the Curtain encourages states to smartly systematize the publication of this important information, and, conveniently, serves as a powerful guide and tool for states and advocacy groups on how best to do it.

While the politics vary from place to place, the principal need for transparency and accountability in school funding, spending, and performance is universal.

-America Succeeds Team

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