Every Student Succeeds Act

ESSA Guidance Continues to Roll Out

By Alyson Klein — February 08, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Every Student Succeeds Act may be the law of the land, but it won’t be fully in place until the 2017-18 school year.

Between now and then, the federal government, states, and school districts will be transitioning to the ESSA from the No Child Left Behind Act, the previous version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and from the Obama administration’s NCLB waivers. Those waivers—which are in place in 42 states and the District of Columbia—are null and void as of Aug. 1.

The U.S. Department of Education continues to roll out guidance on how key elements of the transition will work.

On Jan. 28, for instance, the department made it clear that the eight states without waivers will no longer have to continue to set aside 20 percent of their Title I funding, which targets low-income students, for tutoring and school choice—a requirement under the NCLB law for schools that missed achievement targets.

Instead those eight—California, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Washington, Wyoming, and Vermont—can come up with another plan to help schools that have missed targets for multiple years.

Those with waivers can focus just on their 5 percent lowest-performing schools, known as priority schools, and those with really big achievement gaps (another 10 percent deemed focus schools). States can either stick with their current lists of those schools or come up with a new list by March.

What’s more, during the transition period, the department will continue to enforce the requirement that 95 percent of students take state tests.

That requirement—a holdover from the NCLB law—remains in place under ESSA. But the new law allows states to decide what happens to schools that miss their participation target, while under NCLB, they were automatic failures. That new language won’t kick in, however, until the 2017-18 school year, when ESSA plans are approved and fully in place.

States also no longer have to continue to ensure that teachers meet the NCLB’s “highly qualified” definition, which calls for teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and state certification in the subject they’re teaching. That requirement isn’t part of the new law. But states must still implement the plans for equitable teacher distribution that they submitted earlier this year.

And, on Feb. 2, the administration came out with new guidance to help states and districts cut down on the number of tests students take.

The guidance issued includes ideas like ensuring tests are of high quality and worth taking, and makes it clear that states and districts can use federal money to support some of that work. For instance, states can use federal funds to conduct audits of their assessment systems or help educators better understand how test results can improve student learning.

Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, noted that at least 39 states have already set to work on improving the quality of assessments or reducing unnecessary tests. “Those assessments must be meaningful and provide immediate feedback to students, teachers, and parents,” he said in a statement.

A version of this article appeared in the February 10, 2016 edition of Education Week as ESSA Transition Guidance Rolling Out


Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center & Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Addressing Disparities of Black Students with Disabilities
Nearly two years of the pandemic have taken a toll on our nation’s students – especially those in the Black community and who are living with disabilities. But, as they say, in every crisis comes
Content provided by Easterseals

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Every Student Succeeds Act Republicans Tell Miguel Cardona His Plan for ESSA Waivers Seems to Violate the Law
The Every Student Succeeds Act doesn't permit the education secretary to seek certain data he's asking for, the two GOP lawmakers say.
4 min read
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, left, listens as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, center, speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, left, listens as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, center, speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Every Student Succeeds Act How Will ESSA Hold Up During COVID-19? Pandemic Tests the Law's Resilience
Lawmakers designed ESSA to limit mandates covering issues like how tests are used. Will that affect how well the law survives the pandemic?
6 min read
Every Student Succeeds Act Betsy DeVos Tells States Not to Expect Waivers From Annual Tests
The tests required by federal law are crucial to helping schools respond to the coronavirus pandemic and help vulnerable students, the education secretary said in a letter to chief state school officers.
3 min read
Every Student Succeeds Act Top DeVos Deputy: Our 'Instinct' Is to Not Give States Testing Waivers Next Year
"Accountability aside, we need to know where students are so we can address their needs," Assistant Secretary of Education Jim Blew said during remarks at the Education Writers Association's National Seminar.
3 min read