The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) issues written guidance to support the implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is important to remember that guidance documents are non-binding both in law and in practice.

In general, OESE’s written guidance provides clarification regarding implementation of the ESSA. OESE typically issues written guidance, sometimes in the form of letters, in response to trending issues raised in the field by parents, educators, advocacy organizations, state educational agencies, and other interested parties.

OESE also issues broader written guidance in the form of memos, Dear Colleague Letters, or frequently asked questions (FAQ) documents, as determined appropriate, based on:

  • Information gathered through OESE’s oversight of implementation of the ESSA by state educational agencies.
  • Stakeholder-identified needs for clarification of the ESSA’s provisions.
  • Needs identified due to new statutory or regulatory provisions or court cases.
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Other than statutory and regulatory requirements included in the document, the contents of this guidance do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.
Last Modified: 07/06/2021