The Every Student Succeeds Act: A Parent’s Guide
What is ESSA? And how will it change our schools?
What is ESSA?
In 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, the replacement for No Child Left Behind. The law works to shine a light on the performance gaps between student groups that persist in our schools. At OSPI, we worked with hundreds of stakeholders to create the ESSA Consolidated Plan, which we submitted to the federal Department of Education on September 18, 2017.
What will change with ESSA?
The key change is that we will be providing more support to struggling schools. In the past, schools that were struggling had limited ways to use their resources for improvement. Now, schools have more flexibility to implement evidence-based strategies designed to help improve performance school-wide and to support specific groups of students that need additional assistance to be successful.
What stays the same?
As the current system does, ESSA requires students to take state assessments in grades 3–8, and again in 10th grade. It also requires states to use challenging academic content standards.
How does ESSA close gaps?
Washington’s ESSA Plan outlines initiatives to attract and retain effective educators, especially for students of color and low-income students, who are more often taught by inexperienced teachers, or who are teaching subjects in which they aren’t trained. Additionally, with ESSA, we will identify more schools who have large gaps in student performance between student groups. With identification comes targeted funding and other supports to help reduce and eventually eliminate those gaps.
How is our accountability system changing?
ESSA allowed OSPI to rewrite Washington’s federal accountability system. Our new index reduces the reliance on high-stakes state assessments as a measurement for schools, while also holding schools accountable for student growth, graduation rates, English Learner progress, and school climate indicators. The new index will be available to parents and families Spring of 2018.
Michaela Miller, Ed.D., NBCT