The Education Trust Statement on the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Back in January, we set out to ensure a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would move the country forward in its efforts to close the long-standing gaps in opportunity and achievement separating different groups of young Americans.
“While there are aspects of the Every Student Succeeds Act about which we have real misgivings, our overarching goal was to make all groups of children matter and to ensure that, when any group of children consistently lags behind, somebody has to act,” said Daria Hall, Vice President for Government Affairs and Communication. “We believe the bill approved by the House today meets that test.”
Specifically, the bill includes the following fundamental protections for vulnerable students:
- Consistent, state-adopted standards for all children that are aligned with the demands of postsecondary education and work;
- Annual statewide assessment to provide objective, comparable data on how all students are performing;
- Rich public reporting on outcomes and opportunities to learn for all groups of children, including per-pupil expenditures, access to rigorous coursework, and measures of school climate;
- Statewide accountability systems that include gap-closing goals for student outcomes, ratings based on the progress of all students and each group of students, and the expectation of action when any group of students is consistently underperforming;
- Attention to, and a commitment to addressing, inequities in access to ineffective, out-of-field, and inexperienced teachers;
- Sustained investment in public education, with the targeting of Title I dollars to the highest poverty schools and districts; and
- A role for the U.S. Secretary of Education in enforcing the law.
“Congressional reauthorizations of major education laws are always an exercise in compromise, and this one is no exception,” according to Kati Haycock, President. “In the battle between adult interests and those of the children who are at the heart of why the federal government is involved in education, each side won some skirmishes. For example, the final bill places many important decisions about measures of school quality and the pace and nature of improvement efforts in the hands of state and local leaders.
Given the long history of state and local decisions that shortchange vulnerable students, this degree of flexibility is cause for serious trepidation.”
“At the same time, however, the law contains critical protections for these same student groups and clear levers for equity-minded leaders and advocates to move the ball forward, rather than back. For example, school accountability systems must rate schools on the performance of every group of students that they serve — something that is not currently happening in most states under ESEA waivers.”
We at The Education Trust stand ready to do our part to help make sure state and local leaders and advocates take advantage of those levers and truly prioritize accelerating the achievement of the low-income children and children of color who are the law’s very purpose for being.
We’re grateful for the tireless work of our coalition partners, and to the bipartisan, bicameral collaboration of Chairman Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member Patty Murray, Chairman John Kline, and Ranking Member Bobby Scott and their staffs for getting us to this point.