Every Student Succeeds Act


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was enacted in December 2015, was crafted in response to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to redefine educational standards and give states more autonomy in directing schools and teachers.

NCLB had created a one-size-fits-all education plan that was a step in the right direction, but it was not necessarily addressing the underlying issues. The ultimate goal of the ESSA is to provide school districts the support they need to allow their students to compete in a global market.

The biggest change from NCLB to ESSA was in the allocation of power. Under ESSA, states are in control of implementing accountability systems and evaluating their school districts without assistance from the federal government unless their methods prove to be failing. While states must meet federal parameters, they are to develop their own accountability tests designed to meet the needs of their state. This includes following graduation rates, creating standardized tests, and separating data into subgroups by characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, disability, and income to address any unmet education gaps.

Not only will the accountability tests provide critical information to that state on how the school is doing, it will also help tailor individual plans for children who are struggling academically. It will show parents and teachers if an individual is struggling with math, reading, or science and allow them to develop an education plan accordingly.

This bill allocates a large portion of its budget towards improving schools that are consistently falling below the standard by giving grant money to develop innovative interventions to improve the school’s curriculum.  Such interventions could include teacher training programs, incorporating new technologies, or making internet more accessible.


Key Terms:

Accountability systems – ways for school districts to measure the success of programs and determine which areas need improvement. This can be measured though standardized tests, graduation rates, data analysis, or evaluation systems.