A New Education Law

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and represents good news for our nation’s schools. This bipartisan measure reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.

The new law builds on key areas of progress in recent years, made possible by the efforts of educators, communities, parents, and students across the country.

For example, today, high school graduation rates are at all-time highs. Dropout rates are at historic lows. And more students are going to college than ever before. These achievements provide a firm foundation for further work to expand educational opportunity and improve student outcomes under ESSA.

The previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, was enacted in 2002. NCLB represented a significant step forward for our nation’s children in many respects, particularly as it shined a light on where students were making progress and where they needed additional support, regardless of race, income, zip code, disability, home language, or background. The law was scheduled for revision in 2007, and, over time, NCLB’s prescriptive requirements became increasingly unworkable for schools and educators. Recognizing this fact, in 2010, the Obama administration joined a call from educators and families to create a better law that focused on the clear goal of fully preparing all students for success in college and careers.

Congress has now responded to that call.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a reauthorization of the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It replaces the prior reauthorization, most commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10, 2015, and had broad bipartisan support in Congress.

ESSA reflects significant feedback from educators and school leaders provided since NCLB was instituted in federal fiscal year (FY) 2003 — notably, that greater local control of school accountability was necessary for schools and students to excel.

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has the full text of the law and other resources posted here: http://www.ed.gov/essa.

ESSA is authorized for federal FY 2017-20, and requires full implementation in the 2017-18 school year. In the interim, USDOE will provide states with additional guidance, which ALSDE will use to inform the transition to the 2017-18 school year.

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