Special Report
Every Student Succeeds Act

Scrambling to Fill Out ESSA’s Policy Details

By The Editors — December 30, 2016 2 min read

With just months to go until the nation’s overhauled K-12 law goes into effect, state policymakers are still scrambling to firm up the infrastructure for their education systems, under the new blueprint laid out in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

They’re doing it at a time of political change and policy uncertainty at the national level, with a new team taking the field at the White House—and at the U.S. Department of Education—that may have its own ideas about how details of the new law play out on the ground.

There’s plenty about ESSA that remains familiar from the No Child Left Behind Act, the previous version of the half-century-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act. That includes mandatory state testing at certain grade levels, tagging and intervening in low-performing schools, and federal sign-off on state accountability plans.

Free Online Event

Keys to ESSA Implementation
May 1, 2018
The Every Student Succeeds Act finally becomes a classroom reality this fall. In this Virtual Summit, Education Week journalists and guests will host discussions about the law’s requirements. Join us.

But the new law, passed with bipartisan support in Congress just over a year ago, also offers the prospect of new flexibility and a lighter federal rein on how states shape the specifics in such contentious areas as teacher evaluation and the proper weighting of indicators that go into measuring school quality.

Quality Counts 2017 looks at the steps states are taking to turn ESSA’s blueprint into a finished structure—and the challenges of doing it by the time the bell rings for the 2017-18 school year.

Grading the States

Providing context for that process, this 21st edition of Quality Counts paints a somewhat stagnant picture of the nation’s schools overall, with spot improvements and declines in particular states.

For the third year in a row, the nation receives a C grade—a score of 74.2 out of 100—on the Education Week Research Center’s basket of key indicators.

The national grade and the grades for individual states are based on three custom Research Center indices that look at the role of education in promoting an individual’s chance for success over the course of a lifetime; overall school spending and equity in funding across districts; and academic performance, including changes over time and poverty-based gaps.

For the third straight year, Massachusetts takes first place, receiving a B grade and a score of 86.5, followed by five other states that received B grades with slightly lower point scores. Nevada was ranked lowest in the nation overall, receiving a D with a score of 65—one of three states to receive D scores overall.

But while 34 states fell into the C-minus to C-plus range, several posted notable upticks this year, including Montana, which gained 1.3 points—the biggest jump nationally. And New Hampshire, which gained about a point in this year’s report, edged into the ranks of the top five states.

Related Tags:


School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure
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.
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
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.
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

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
Every Student Succeeds Act Betsy DeVos Announces Aid to Help Create 'Student-Centered' Funding Systems
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has made $3 million available to help districts create "weighted per-pupil funding" systems, part of an ESSA pilot available to districts for some time.
2 min read
Every Student Succeeds Act Massachusetts Gets Green Light to Pilot Innovative Science Assessment
Massachusetts is the fifth state to join the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority created through the Every Student Succeeds Act, which allows states to experiment with new forms of testing.
1 min read