Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Apr 7, 2016 11:00:00 AM Jessica Beidelman Education Trends

In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan bill that aims to make sure every student is prepared to succeed in a 21st century economy. ESSA significantly diminished the federal government’s role in education and provided states and local education agencies with enhanced ability to make decisions related to educational outcomes. Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, recently introduced how President Obama has joined educators and families across the country to fix and improve No Child Left Behind to better serve our students. What impact will ESSA have on teachers in the classroom and professionals across the education sector?

Standardized Testing

While ESSA maintains statewide testing, it encourages a more balanced approach to testing by moving away from a singular focus on standardized tests. Under ESSA, school accountability decisions are based upon multiple measures of student learning and progress. This creates a culture of continuous improvement and measurement within schools and networks of schools based on balanced and nuanced metrics. For teachers in historically under-performing schools, this means that measurement of student success will take into account the socioeconomic status (SES) of students.

Socioemotional Development

By using additional metrics to measure student and school success, ESSA takes into consideration a multitude of socioemotional factors and emphasizes the importance of educating the whole child, with funding available for early childhood education, innovative programs and disruptive pilot programs.

Enhanced District Collaboration

ESSA promotes a culture that allows for and encourages district collaboration by granting schools the freedom to create their own pathways towards improvement. The role of the teacher – and school leader – is expanded. Teacher leadership is more important than ever before in building Networked Improvement Communities that promote greater innovation and refinement of practice. ESSA helps to support and grow local innovations - including evidence-based and place-based interventions developed by local leaders and educators.

The main driver of ESSA is to empower states and school districts to develop their own strategies for improvement, which means that teachers and system leaders need the adaptable leadership skills to rise to the challenge of developing innovative practices in schools and districts. How will ESSA impact your school or district? What steps have you and your colleagues taken to address these new changes?