Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed in December of 2015, amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).  States will operate under the NCLB requirements for the 2016-17 school year with all provisions of ESSA taking effect in the 2017-18 school year.  Key changes are described below.

Key Changes from NCLB

  • State regulated with more authority to make decisions, choose standards and assessments, goals, and means of accountability
  • State responsible for enforcing many requirements (though subject to Department of Education regulation)
  • AYP, AMAOs, HQT, 100% proficiency requirement and SES have been eliminated

Definition Changes

  • Core Academic Subjects updated to Well-Rounded Education
  • Scientifically Research Based updated to Evidenced-Based
  • Highly Qualified updated to Highly Effective
  • Parent Engagement updated to Parent and Family Engagement
  • English Language Learners (ELLs) updated to English Learners (ELs)

Accountability and Reporting

State Considerations

  • Includes performance goals for each reporting group
  • Annually measures student growth (or another valid and reliable statewide academic indicator)
  • Includes one other indicator of school quality or student success that allows for meaningful differentiation
  • Measures English language proficiency annually in grades 3-8, and once in High School
  • Three additional reporting groups are included: homeless status (if statistically significant), military connected children, and students in foster care
  • Two levels of improvement (Comprehensive Support and Improvement; Targeted Support and Improvement)

District Considerations

  • EL accountability frozen until 2017-18
  • Report per pupil expenditures for federal, state,and local funds

Teacher Qualifications and Effectiveness

State Considerations

  • State plans provide assurance that all teachers and paraprofessionals meet state certification and licensure requirements
  • Creates new teacher, principal and school leader academies
  • Creates new teacher residency programs

District Considerations

  • Professional Development definition updated to ensure personalized, ongoing and job-embedded activities
  • Title II funds to prepare, recruit and retain teachers and principals formula changes to 20% based on school-aged population and 80% based on school-age population living in poverty, phased in over 4 years
  • Allows use of Title II funds to reform certification systems; improve alternate routes to certification; and improve recruitment and retention

Standards and Assessments

State Considerations

  • Must provide an assurance that challenging academic content standards (in reading, math and science) and aligned academic achievement standards (with three levels of achievement) have been adopted
  • Must adopt English language proficiency assessment
  • Allows states to administer alternate test for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities; however, alternate tests may be used by no more than 1% of the total number of students being assessed (must provide notice and justification to SEA if 1% is exceeded)
  • States can establish their own laws governing ‘opt-outs’ and requires parents to be notified regarding their children’s participation rights in assessments
  • May use single annual summative assessment or multiple statewide interim assessments throughout the year that result in one summative score
  • May use computer adaptive assessments
  • May set a target limit on amount of time used for testing

District Considerations

  • Maintains requirement that assessments be administered to at least 95% of all students
  • Consequences for schools that miss the 95% threshold are determined by states and districts

Well-Rounded Education

State Considerations

  • Eliminates 50 programs that support physical education, STEM, and school counseling
  • New early childhood education program
  • Requires state plans to identify how they are reducing bullying and the overuse of discipline practices that remove students from the classroom

District Considerations

  • Requires districts to allocate 20% of Title IV funds to programs that support well-rounded education
  • Requires districts to allocate 20% of Title IV funds to programs that support safe and healthy students
  • Remaining 60% of Title IV funds allocated based on needs assessment

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Adapted from Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC, ESSA’Bout Time and ASCD Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Comparison of the No Child Left Behind Act to the Every Student Succeeds Act