Education primer: Every Student Succeeds Act

November 20, 2016

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed in to law by President Obama in December 2015.  The law replaces No Child Left Behind and significantly changes the formulas for federal

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed in to law by President Obama in December 2015. The law replaces No Child Left Behind and significantly changes the formulas for federal funding of public education.  Under ESSA, education funding is distributed as block-grants based on goals and metrics set by individual states.

In Georgia, the state's Department of Education is handling the planning process for ESSA implementation and it must submit its road map to the U.S. Department of Education by June of 2017. Changes will be implemented at the start of the 2017-2018 school year. The state's plan is significant in that it will set guidelines for accountability and review for all Georgia schools.

Here are some major highlights of the Every Student Succeeds Act:

  • ESSA requires that state achievement standards for students in english, math and science be aligned with the state's system of credit-bearing coursework for public higher education and the state's career and technical education (CTE) standards.
  • ESSA requires states to administer tests that are aligned with state standards and to provide a minimum schedule starting in third grade;
  • States must have English Language Proficiency (ELP) standards in place for English learners that are also aligned to the state academic standards.
  • States must conduct an annual assessment of english language proficiency for all english learners.
  • ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind's "adequate yearly progress" with a Georgia-designed accountability system, including long-term goals and annual indicators for the cumulative student population and student sub-groups. In Georgia, both district and school level report cards are already in place. ESSA allows that system to remain but requires that each school and district set goals for overall student achievement as well as achievement of student subgroups classified by race, gifted, special education and others. The overall student achievement score must include 4 levels of achievement:
    • One indicator of achievement for a statewide assessments (The Georgia Milestones test already in place)
    • An indicator of english proficiency
    • For high schools – the cohort graduation rate, for elementary and middle schools a second academic indicator
    • A fourth indicator of school quality or student success (as long as this indicator can be measured by student subgroups)
  • Schools must be categorize based upon need. The lowest performing five percent of schools using the state accountability system noted above should be considered for comprehensive support and improvement.
  • Schools must continue to use Title IV funds for college and career guidance and school counseling programs.  Further consideration is to be given to other community and well-rounded activities such as music, arts, conflict resolution, student engagement, STEM and accelerated learning programs:
    • There are limitations on these funds, specifically no more than 15 percent of the funds may be used for purchasing of technology and technology infrastructure.
    • There is an opportunity to apply for additional grant monies towards 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These Centers must offer academic enrichment programs that involve family members and support literacy programs.
  • Funding is set aside for a grant program available to state organizations that establish family engagement centers providing comprehensive training and technical assistance. The minimum amount for this award is $500,000.
  • Title IX funds support Preschool Development grants which allow states to:
    • Develop, update or implement a strategic plan that coordinates existing early childhood care and education programs across the state;
    • Encourage partnerships between Head Start childcare providers and local and state governments;
    • Support parental choice with regard to a mixed delivery system of childcare providers.

*This information is compiled from multiple sources provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures  (NCSL) and other national organizations including: