On December 10th of 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, a new bipartisan measure reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a 50-year-old act which outlines our country’s dedication to equal opportunity for all students.
The act is intended to continue building in areas where we’ve seen success, which was achieved by the collaborative efforts of educators, communities, parents, and students across our country. This success can be seen in the our country’s historically low dropout rates, and high school graduation rates, which are at all time highs. These students are going on to attend college in numbers higher than ever before. The Every Student Succeeds Act, also known as ESSA, is the successor of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The NCLB enacted measures to bridge the gap between traditionally underserved students and their peers, while sparking a national conversation about the necessary improvements in public education.
This new act has also revived the measures of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was signed into law by then President Lyndon Baines Johnson, in 1965. President LBJ believed in prioritizing “full educational opportunity” as our “first national goal.” The EASA was a civil rights law intended to benefit low-income student. It offered new grants to districts educating low-income students, and provided federal grants for textbooks and library books. The act also allocated funds for education centers, scholarships for low-income college students, and provided federal grants to educational agencies at the state level so they could improve the quality of elementary and secondary education.
The new act signed by President Obama is meant to “ensure success for students and schools.” Here are some highlights among the many new provisions:
- “Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.
- Requires—for the first time—that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
- Ensures that vital information is provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students’ progress toward those high standards.
- Helps to support and grow local innovations—including evidence-based and place-based interventions developed by local leaders and educators—consistent with our Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods
- Sustains and expands this administration’s historic investments in increasing access to high-quality preschool.
- Maintains an expectation that there will be accountability and action to effect positive change in our lowest-performing schools, where groups of students are not making progress, and where graduation rates are low over extended periods of time.”
The U.S. Department of Education has started working with states and districts to begin executing this new act. If you want to stay up-to-date with news about this new act, you can subscribe here.