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The Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act
Posted on November 8, 2017 by CHS

In 2015, with bipartisan support, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and beginning a new period in federal oversight of public education. Building on the needs identified in public education through NCLB, ESSA endeavors to provide equal opportunities for all children and ensure all children are fully prepared to succeed in college and career through policies that work for all stakeholders. ESSA also re-authorized the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a key piece of civil rights legislation that secures full educational opportunities for all children. ESSA provides a great opportunity for states to tailor their education systems to meet the needs of their students, including the needs of students with disabilities. States also assume a new level of responsibility for ensuring they close achievement gaps and meet the needs of all students.

Testing and Evaluation: The ESSA reduces the high-stakes testing associated with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and requires students to have access to and receive a well-rounded education, which includes access to core content areas—math, reading and history—in addition to arts and music, foreign languages, technology, engineering, health and physical education. States determine their own academic standards for students, accountability and teacher evaluation systems. Each state must administer annual assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts in grades 3–8 and once in grades 9–12. States must also administer a science assessment once in grades 3–5, 6–9 and 10–12.

States are required to develop plans that feature multiple measures of student growth and achievement, including performance on required state assessments, school quality, and access to opportunities that promote college-and career-readiness. States have to identify and provide support to schools that are not meeting the state-determined goals for student and school performance.

Family engagement is also a major component of the new law. ESSA requires school districts to have a written parent and family engagement policy that welcomes all families and seeks to strengthen the partnership between families, the school, and the community to improve student outcomes. Each school must also hold an annual meeting with parents and families to explain the curriculum, types of academic assessments used to measure student progress, the state’s academic standards and the skills students are expected to obtain and demonstrate. States must include stakeholders, including parents, in the development of their plans to monitor student and school performance.

Among the priorities included in ESSA are:

  • Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America's disadvantaged and high-need students.
  • Requires—for the first time—that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
  • Ensures that vital information is provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students' progress toward those high standards.
  • Helps to support and grow local innovations—including evidence-based and place-based interventions developed by local leaders and educators
  • Sustains and expands historic investments in increasing access to high-quality preschool.
  • Maintains an expectation that there will be accountability and action to effect positive change in the lowest-performing schools, where groups of students are not making progress, and where graduation rates are low over extended periods of time.

Major provisions of the ESSA include:

  • Helps states to improve low-performing schools
  • Improves accountability for learning outcomes for all students
  • Targets funds to at-risk children
  • Helps states increase teacher quality
  • Supports at-risk populations
  • Provides greater funding flexibility to enhance support for students and schools
  • Promotes high-quality choices for parents
  • Maintains and strengthens critical programs.

For additional information on the components of ESSA and what the new law means for parents and family engagement, visit the National Parent-Teacher Association website and the California Parent-Teacher Association website at:

National PTA:

California PTA:

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