NCLB policies eliminated from ESSA include:

  • The federally mandated requirement that 100% of students demonstrate proficiency on state tests by the 2013-14 school year.  Instead, states and districts must develop their own short and long term goals.
  • Requirement that schools achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or face punitive measures such as sending home school failure letters, setting aside Title I dollars for supplementary education services such as tutoring, or mandatory school choice options for students attending a "failing" school
  • School Improvement Grants (SIGs) have been eliminated but states will now be required to set aside 7% of their Title I dollars to support school improvement instead of 4% under NCLB
  • Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirements that required districts to send home letters to parents if a teacher was not deemed Highly Qualified for their teaching assignment.

What stays the same from NCLB?

  • States must have college and career ready standards
  • There is no reduction in ELA, Math and Science tests
    • ELA & math administered in grades 3-8 and once in HS
    • Science administered once per grade band (3-5, 6-8, HS)
  • States must continue to disaggregate students into subgroups (ELL, Special Education, low-income, gender & students of color)
  • States must identify and address low-performing schools
  • States must ensure low-income students aren't disproportionately taught by ineffective, inexperienced, unqualified or out-of-field teachers at higher rates than other students
  • States will continue to issue annual report cards for schools and districts

A new accountability system

States will now be responsible for defining targets for student progress and creating an accountability system to identify schools for intervention. Washington's Accountability system will meet federal requirements by including:

For elementary and middle schools

  • Number of students that are proficient, or on-track for proficiency on the state assessment
  • A measure of student growth
  • The English Language Proficiency of English Learners
  • Chronic absenteeism, a measure of school success or student support

For high schools

  • Number of students that are proficient on the state assessment
  • Four-year graduation rate
  • English Language Proficiency of English Learners
  • At least initially, three measures of school success or student support: chronic absenteeism, 9th grade (Success) on-track, and dual-credit participation.

When building the accountability system, states must give "substantial weight" to proficiency and graduation metrics and "much greater weight" than school quality or student success indicators.

New restrictions on the U.S. Secretary of Education

One of the criticisms of NCLB was the overreach of the Department of Education in dictating school policy among the states.  As a result, ESSA puts in place the following prohibitions on the Secretary of Education:

  • Selecting or influencing the selection of academic standards and assessments
  • Dictating the accountability system design, weighting & designated interventions
  • Determining the exit requirements for schools in improvement
  • Requiring the collection of additional data not explicitly required under ESSA
  • Developing teacher, principal evaluation requirements (i.e. student test scores)
  • Deciding teacher licensure & effectiveness requirements
  • Defining parental opt-out rights