What's changing with the ESSA

Student 04NCLB policies eliminated from ESSA include:

  • The requirement that 100% of students demonstrate proficiency on state tests by the 2013-14 school year
  • 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. Get more information on how HQT will be transitioned here.

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. The measure will require multiple indicators of school success and must include:

For elementary and middle schools

  • Test scores from annual assessments
  • Student growth or other academic indicator
  • English Language Proficiency of English Learners
  • At least one indicator of school success or student support 

šFor high schools

  • Test scores (the state may also include student growth on the annual assessment in addition to the annual assessment score)
  • Four-year graduation rate
  • English Language Proficiency of English Learners
  • At least one indicator of school success or student support

Student 01When 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. Indicators of school success or student support may include, access to advanced coursework, fine arts or PE; school climate or safety metrics; positive discipline policies or bullying prevention efforts; or the availability of school counselors, nurses or other supports to students and their families.


Other notable changes in ESSA from NCLB

  • Collective bargaining rights have been expanded to include Title II (Teacher/Leader Quality)
  • Greater emphasis has been given to English Language Learners, now included in Title I in addition to Title III
  • More opportunities to support secondary schools including dual credit/enrollment, credit retrieval and work based learning
  • New inclusion of Pre-K education and early learning, Title I-IV dollars can be spent on Pre-K programs
  • New focus on school discipline and culturally responsive practices

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