Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 

On December 10, 2015, President Barak Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law replacing the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). ESSA is being touted as a bipartisan law focused upon providing equal opportunities for all students across the United States. The law is largely consistent with the Obama administration’s waiver allowances and thus may not cause sweeping philosophical changes (See Table Below).  There are however some key changes that allow for greater flexibility, if state departments of education and state legislatures choose to take advantage.

ESSA Side-by-Side Comparison 

Key difference between ESSA and the Obama administration’s policies include:

  • ESSA does not require states to set up teacher-evaluation systems based in significant part on student test scores.
  • ESSA eliminates NCLBs requirement that staff in each core academic class must be “highly qualified” (generally requiring a bachelor’s degree, state certification and have demonstrated content knowledge).
  • ESSA will require states to hold schools accountable for more than test scores, some emphasis will be placed upon at least one factor that focuses upon school quality, such as teacher engagement, student engagement or access to and success in advanced coursework (Education Week, Path to School Accountability Taking Bold New Turns).
  • ESSA will allow greater flexibility regarding assessment selections at the state level (e.g. M-STEP)

Over the next year, State and Local Education Agencies will be working to understand and implement changes related to ESSA. Local districts will likely not see any direct impact upon their district until 2017. You can watch the signing of ESSA at http://www.ed.gov/essa.