A new federal education law is getting high marks from the state's top education official as well as Governor Matt Mead and the state's congressional delegation.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow and Governor Mead both addressed the state's first-ever Superintendent's Policy Summit--also known as the S5S Summit--on Thursday in Cheyenne.

Both officials praised the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act-or ESSA- as a big improvement over the previous No Child Left Behind law which it replaced. Balow says the new law is better because it gives state and local education officials much more latitude in determining curriculum and educational goals.

She also praised the fact that the ESSA greatly reduces the amount of standardized testing compared to the NCLB.  She says Wyoming teachers under the new law are freed from the burden of constantly teaching students in a way designed to help them pass a seemingly endless barrage of standardized testing that was required by NCLB.

Balow says the new law, by comparison, 'turns the flexibility and the power" in determining coursework and learning back to the states, which she says allows the states in turn to give local school districts much more latitude.

Her comments were largely echoed by Governor Mead, who told the gathering that the new law gives Wyoming the chance to truly excel in education.

Senator Mike Enzi, addressing the summit in a pre-recorded video, expressed similar themes, saying the new law will largely free Wyoming school districts from federal dicates on education policy, specifically mentioning the controversial Common Core curriculum standards as something that won't be demanded of state schools under the new law. Enzi was a member of the Senate Committee which developed the ESSA.

The summit got underway Wednesday night and continues through Thursday in Cheyenne. The superintendent of every school district in the state was invited along with a principle, school board member and teacher from each district.

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