Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) explained

In a previous post, I outlined a bit of the history of the federal government’s involvement in public education (link to post here). Beginning with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, every five years the president has the opportunity to write his (or her) iteration of the ESEA. In 1965 there was much skepticism from the country over how much involvement the federal government should have with public education. Nonetheless, this is when it all began.

Not many people paid attention to the legislation or its history until the George W. Bush administration created No Child Left Behind (NCLB)- likely one of the greatest failures of educational legislation since 1965. NCLB was doomed to fail before it began. There was no way every child would be reading at a 3rd grade level by the end of 3rd grade. I digress.  After NCLB was Obama’s competitive grant called Race to the Top (RTTT)- technically this wasn’t part of the ESEA.


This week, President Obama and his team are finalizing their iteration called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The most major change in ESSA is returning decision making back to the states and away from the federal government. This includes testing, teacher evaluations, and curriculum.

Education Week put out a great video with a brief overview of the key changes to ESSA. You can see the video here.

If you are a student, parent, or teacher, this video is important to better understand the changes and how they will impact you, your children, and your students. This legislation will remain in place for 5 years. Other changes can be made outside of this bill (which is why the DeVos appointment is frightening), but the ESSA is a step forward, after so many years of stepping back.

These are my reflections for today.



Author: Meg White

I am a lifelong educator and I hope to use this blog to reflect on what's happening in public education. These are my musings, opinions, and reflections. If you learn from them, good for us. Ignorance is no excuse. I have co-authored a book, "Questioning Assumptions and Challenging Perceptions: Becoming an Effective Teacher in Urban Environments" (available on amazon)

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