Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as Reauthorized by Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Signed into law December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the federal legislation that governs elementary and secondary education in America. ESSA reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB).


ESSA contains a number of meaningful changes that support advancing education equity. These changes include:

• Consistent, state-adopted standards for all students that are aligned with the demands of postsecondary education and work;

• Statewide annual assessments aligned with statewide standards;

• Clear requirements that statewide accountability systems must expect more progress for the groups of students who have been behind, base school ratings on the progress of all groups of students, and expect action when any group of students is consistently underperforming;

• Richer public reporting on academic outcomes and opportunities to learn for all groups of students, including, for the first time, school-level per-pupil spending and access to rigorous coursework;

• Resources to support teachers and leaders, and a demand that states and districts

report on and address inequities in the rates at which low-income students and students of color are assigned to ineffective, out-of-field, or inexperienced teachers; and

• Continued targeting of federal funding to the highest poverty schools and districts.


Taken together, these changes represent key building blocks for an equity-focused school system — one that sets high expectations for all students, provides resources necessary for meeting those expectations, measures and reports progress toward them, and ensures action when any school — or any group of students — falls off track.