Every Student Succeeds Act: Summary, Pros & Cons

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

This lesson provides you with a summary of the most relevant aspects of each section under the 'Every Student Succeeds Act' (ESSA), a new law replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In addition, you will find highlights about the possible advantages and disadvantages of the new law as it takes effect.

What the Every Student Succeeds Act Entails

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) as of December 10, 2015. The ESSA's main objective is to ensure the opportunity for every student to do well in school.

The initial effect of the ESSA begins for all schools in the academic year 2016-2017. To transition into the new provisions of the law, the U.S. Secretary of Education must provide the different states with the necessary guidance. The full effect of the law is to take place during the academic year 2017-2018.

Summary of Titles

The ESSA has eight Titles each addressing an important part of the new law. Following is a summary of each one.

Title I: defines the grants that are available to states and local educational agencies (LEAs). The main change you find under Title I has to do with the fact that states now have more flexibility to create their own assessment measures. Moreover, the ESSA will incentivize school districts to use assessment funds to create new, innovative, and diverse ways to measure student achievements, as opposed to strictly relying on standardized tests.

Along with more flexibility to design assessment measures, states also have more flexibility to design their own accountability plans, as well as their own standards to adopt academic content.

Title II: contains the rules to recruit and train high-quality teachers and principals. There are two main changes under Title II.

The first main change is that states may reserve up to 3% of the allowance they receive in order to develop activities in favor of teachers and other school leaders. This means educators may receive funding to further their training or to participate in activities that improve their knowledge in a specific area.

The second main change is that the federal government no longer establishes the criteria to evaluate teachers. This authority now resides in the states and the schools. Thus, the results of standardized assessments are no longer the only measure to evaluate teachers' performance.

Title III: defines the funds that are available to states so they can attend to the educational needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) and Immigrant Students. There are two main changes under Title III.

The first main change is that Title III moves accountability measures for ELL programs to Title I. Thus, the statewide accountability system must include the performance of ELLs as part of the overall English proficiency for each state.

The second main change is the increase in funding available to develop ELL programs.

Title IV: defines the available funding to develop 'schools of the 21st century' with comprehensive programs, which must be in the mandatory plan that state educational agencies are required to submit. These programs should ensure a safe, healthy, supportive, and drug-free environment in school. The main characteristic of these programs, however, is that they go beyond the traditional school setting. Thus, to run such programs, schools carry the burden to coordinate with other schools and community-based programs through partnerships with universities, nonprofits, private businesses, and even parents through community learning centers.

Title V: gives flexibility to state and LEAs in order to use federal funding towards the development and implementation of needed programs. It is important to clarify that such flexibility is within certain boundaries because states and LEAs will have to comply with certain requirements, such as number of students, in order to make use of this flexibility.

Title VI: discusses the approach that LEAs, Indian tribes, and any other organizations with educational authority should have to properly attend to the educational needs of Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska natives. There are three main changes under Title VI.

The first main change is that LEAs must consult with tribes before they make any decisions about how Title I grants can be used to develop programs that affect the opportunities of Indian, Hawaiian, and Alaska natives.

The second main change is that funds available under Title IV can be used to develop and implement native language immersion programs in public schools. This way, Native peoples can use and keep their culture and language.

The third main change is that the Bureau of Indian Education can apply, along with the states, for available funding under the ESSA.

Title VII: redefines the 'impact aid' fund. This fund provides funds to LEAs and schools in order to alleviate the loss of revenue they suffer due to federal provisions, such as property tax. There are two main changes under Title VII.

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