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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Every Student Succeeds Act

By Alyson Klein — April 04, 2018 2 min read
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Up until now, the Every Student Succeeds Act has mostly lived in federal legalese and state plans. But all that changes at the end of the school year. That’s when states will start identifying their lowest performing schools, using brand new accountability systems that take into account more than just test scores.

So what will ESSA look like when it really hits the classroom level? What do you need to know about the ins and outs of state plans? Will ESSA really feel different from the No Child Left Behind Act?

If you’ve been looking for the answers to any of those questions, we’ve got just the special report for you, out today on edweek.org. And we’ll be hosting an online ESSA summit on May 1, where you can ask us all your questions directly.

The report explores a bunch of the biggest changes in ESSA—and their potential impact:

School improvement: Unlike in the past, states and districts—not the federal government—will get to decide how to help those schools fix their problems, using interventions backed by evidence. But will states and districts actually take those requirements to heart, or keep doing what they’ve always been doing?

Moving beyond test scores: Chronic absenteeism. Access to arts classes. Discipline data. Dual enrollment. Physical education. ESSA gave states the chance to incorporate a whole new range of indicators into their accountability systems. Find out what states picked and how their choices will change accountability.

Teacher evaluations: Under the Obama administration, states had to adopt teacher evaluation through test scores to gain new flexibilities. Not any more. How has that changed the teacher quality picture?

Data transparency: In exchange for all this new flexibility in accountability, states and districts will need to provide new spending data, information about homeless and foster kids, and more. If you think that sounds easy, think again.

State conflict: ESSA is all about local and state control. But in some places, that means state and district leaders are butting heads with each other instead of the feds.

Testing: When ESSA passed, states and educators were clamoring for testing flexibility. So why isn’t anyone using it?

Vulnerable students: Civil rights advocates were worried that more state and local control would mean that racial minorities, poor children, English-language learners, and students in special education wouldn’t get the attention they need. Were they right to worry?

Got a question on ESSA the report doesn’t answer? Email us at aklein@epe.org and aujifusa@epe.org. We’ll get on it for you!

Want to learn even more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information:


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