On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. This long overdue rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act signals the start of a new chapter in our country’s mission to ensure a high-quality education for all kids.
With the passage of the new law, the implementation work falls squarely on state leadership, advocates, educators, parents, and policy makers. You are not alone. The Education Trust stands ready to work alongside you.
For more resources and updates on the implementation of the new law visit our Every Student Succeeds Act page.
Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides a real opportunity to create legislation that serves all groups of children equitably. Done right, a new law will keep federal, state, and local leaders honest about efforts to educate all children to high levels, especially students of color and those from low-income households. If not constructed thoughtfully, the law could hurt children.
Gutting major provisions around assessment, transparency, and accountability could return us to a time when the academic performance of some students was hidden.
Follow the latest news and opinion on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as developments unfold.
Want to have a better grasp of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act? We respond to the significant developments to help you make sense of the details and let you know where we stand.
Check out our latest resources to get up to speed on the assessment, accountability, and funding discussions swirling around reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The nation needs a much better education law that maintains federal oversight of student achievement.
THE No Child Left Behind education law produced one outcome worth salvaging: an emphasis on holding schools accountable for the academic achievement of all students.
Now, as Congress considers two bills to reform the federal education law, some lawmakers want to loosen federal oversight of school performance — a long step backward for the nation’s education system.
By Chris Coons and Cory Booker, July 15, 2015.
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?” is one of the most basic questions we ask our kids – perhaps a question they get more than any other.
Equally important is a question we should be asking ourselves as parents and as Americans: Are we doing everything we can to make sure all of our kids have the chance to achieve their dreams?
The Senate is debating major updates to our nation’s public school system for the first time in more than a decade. The legislation, which reforms 2001’s No Child Left Behind Act, makes important strides to improve American education, but it could still leave far too many of our children behind.
So we ask our colleagues in the Senate: Are we really doing everything we can to make sure all of our kids have the same opportunities to succeed?
Right now, the answer is no.
By Kati Haycock, July 14, 2015.
Dear Members of the U.S. Senate:
I write to urge you to vote yes on Amendment #2241 to the Every Child Achieves Act, which was introduced by U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Since it was originally signed into law in 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has played a critically important role in the education of children who are often underserved in their own communities. Yes, the federal government provides only about 10 cents on the dollar in the finance of American K-12 education. But its laser focus on low-income children, children of color, students with disabilities, and English learners has helped to make sure these children don’t get short-changed in their communities and states.
In previous attempts to reauthorize this critical law, Congress worked hard to incorporate lessons learned during the previous reauthorizations. By building on those lessons, they steadily improved the law’s effectiveness in bettering outcomes for students who have been historically disadvantaged in our school system.
That responsibility — for improving the law’s effectiveness in bettering student outcomes — is no less important today, for these students now comprise a majority of American K-12 students. Both their futures, and our collective future, are at stake.
WASHINGTON (July 14, 2015) — Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, issued the following statement on Amendment #2241 filed today by U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
“Today we applaud Sens. Murphy, Booker, Coons, Durbin, and Warren for introducing this much needed accountability amendment that strengthens key provisions in the Every Child Achieves Act by setting the expectation that states, districts, and schools take action when any group of students fails to meet state-set goals in consecutive years. No matter what school a child attends — whether it is a school performing at the bottom 5 percent in their state or a school that is high-performing for most students — vulnerable students will know that their education matters.
“In previous attempts to update this critical law, Congress built on lessons learned and steadily improved the law’s effectiveness. Since this law was last reauthorized, we’ve learned a great deal about the need for increased state ownership of accountability systems. But in granting that much needed flexibility, this Congress cannot abandon the expectation of progress for the vulnerable students who are the special focus of the law and action when progress isn’t happening.
“Certainly, our schools need flexibility in how they act, and the law guarantees them exactly that. But surely that flexibility — especially when it is accompanied by $15 billion in taxpayer dollars — shouldn’t include no action at all.
“This amendment creates a strong signaling system that not only alerts local policymakers, school leaders, teachers, and parents when groups of students are missing state expectations, but also requires action so that children are not permitted to struggle academically without a lifeline being thrown.
“While this amendment goes a long way to support our nation’s most underserved students, even more work will be needed in Conference to ensure that the accountability provisions of the law are focused where they should be: primarily on improving academic outcomes for all groups of children. But with its clear expectation of action both on behalf of chronically low-performing schools and when any group of students is not progressing, Amendment #2241 is an important step forward in improving the accountability provisions of the Every Child Achieves Act.
“As the Senate completes its work on this law, we strongly urge Members not to lose focus on the very children this law was created to serve. Please give these students the education law that they deserve.”
WASHINGTON (July 14, 2015) — The Education Trust issued the following statement today on Amendment 2089, an opt-out amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, offered by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
“The Education Trust opposes Amendment 2089, which would require states to allow students to opt — or be opted — out of statewide assessments for any reason, effectively nullifying state policies on test participation. States use statewide standards, and the assessments based on them, to serve as a check to ensure the vulnerable students who are the focus of federal law are not being subjected to lower expectations than their peers.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky, for example, has made it clear that students can opt out of the state’s public school system, but if they choose to attend public schools, they will participate in assessments. Amendment 2089 would undermine that decision and decisions like it across the country.
“Kentucky State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says, ‘As a state, information on how students are performing is essential to improving learning outcomes for all children. We cannot improve public education without a clear understanding of how each child is performing academically and how schools are meeting the needs of all students. If this amendment passes, it will put students, parents, teachers and schools at a disadvantage by taking away the opportunity to see a complete picture of how kids are performing and how we can help them.’
“Under this amendment students who opt out would not be counted in the 95 percent participation rate requirement for a state’s accountability system, thereby undermining the expectation that schools are accountable for the academic progress of all students. Until federal law insisted that all children be included in statewide assessments, schools could and did mask disparities by excluding certain children — especially low-income students, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities — from tests. This amendment would take us back to that time.”
By Kati Haycock, July 13, 2015.
In fall 2016, Jamillah will leave her Head Start classroom to begin kindergarten in a suburb of Washington, DC. Like many of her Head Start classmates, she is a tiny bundle of joy and curiosity; she loves colored pencils and books of all sorts, and adores singing the alphabet song. But though she will be better prepared for school than many other low-income children — after all, she got one of those coveted Head Start seats — Jamillah won’t arrive in kindergarten with anywhere near the vocabulary, early literacy, and math skills of her more advantaged counterparts.
The question for us as Americans, not to mention for Congress and the White House as they try to complete work on the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is what should we expect of Jamillah and the thousands more like her who will enter school at the same time?
Even more to the point, what should we expect of the school systems charged with educating such students?
By The Washington Post Editorial Board, July 7, 2015.
THE FEDERAL government each year gives states about $37 billion for elementary and secondary schools and students. Of that, about $15 billion goes to Title I, which is intended to help local school districts improve achievement for underserved students. Taxpayers have a right to expect results from that investment; one would hope their elected representatives would agree. Remarkably, though, as they debate a renewal of the No Child Left Behind law, many legislators are fighting to abandon any such accountability. Their success would mark a defeat for the nation’s neediest students.
Congress this week began debating the long-overdue reauthorization of the 2001 law that was a landmark achievement of former president George W. Bush and Democrats including the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.). On the Senate floor is a bill that in April won unanimous, bipartisan approval from the Senate education committee. House Republicans are expected to try to revive legislation that earlier was withdrawn for lack of support.
Posted on The Hill by George Miller and Celine Coggins, July 6, 2015.
This week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate may vote on the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). First passed in 1965, it is now commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002. The next chapter in the story of American education is about to be written. We may represent the polar ends of the education system — a former chairman of the House Education Committee and a former classroom teacher — but we have a shared belief that now is the opportunity to get it right.
Posted on Huffington Post by Kati Haycock, May 15, 2015.
This year, I am spending a lot of my time inside the beltway, advocating on behalf of students and families who have been traditionally underserved.
While the children themselves are always top of mind in the advocacy work we do, the voices of teachers and school leaders who serve them well are also incredibly important. In communities across the nation, these educators are doing the remarkable work of getting all students, including those who arrive at school behind, to reach high academic levels. Their work provides important evidence of what is possible.
As Congress continues to debate what should be in a reauthorized ESEA, it is important for Members to hear from some of the teachers and principals who serve students in some of our most distressed and impoverished communities.
Washington Post Editorial, April 10, 2015
A BIPARTISAN senate bill to revise No Child Left Behind preserves annual testing of students as well as the requirement that test scores, broken down by race, income and special needs, be made public. We are glad to see recognition of how critical these much-maligned measures have been in improving student achievement since the law took effect 13 years ago. But as important as it is for the public to know how students are doing, it’s also urgent that schools be required to respond when students are failing. The bill is deficient on this score. As it advances in the Senate, its measures on accountability need to be strengthened.
Posted on Education Week’s blogs by Lauren Camera, April 6, 2015
In an unprecedented move by the nation’s public school superintendents’ groups at both the state and national level, AASA, the School Superintendents Association, and 49 state affiliates sent a letter to members of Congress Monday urging them to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act, the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Washington Post Editorial, March 28, 2015
U.S. EDUCATION officials in February had some modestly good news to announce: the nation’s high school graduation rate had inched up to a historic high. This month came even more encouraging news: Those rates have improved for all types of students, as the achievement gap that separates minority students from their white peers has narrowed.
Posted on TNTP Blog by Dan Weisberg, March 26, 2015
If you want a surefire way to dampen the mood at a party or heighten the tension at your dinner table, bring up standardized testing. It’s the part of our education system everyone loves to hate.
Posted on The Hill by Arne Duncan, Marc Morial and Janet Murguia, March 23, 2015
All of our children deserve an equal chance to succeed. Being the nation we’re meant to be — the nation we’re proud to be — starts with providing a great education for every child, from every family, in every community. It’s an essential step in ensuring that the reality of America lives up to the powerful promise of America.
New York Times Editorial, February 21, 2015
Congress made the right decision a decade ago when it required states to administer yearly tests to public school students — and improve instruction for poor and minority students — in return for federal education aid.
Posted on Huffington Post by Kati Haycock on February 18, 2015
At first, our coalition of national civil rights, business, and disabilities organizations may seem like odd bedfellows. Indeed, during the course of a typical year, these organizations disagree on many matters of public policy.
THE U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Council of La Raza, Business Roundtable and the Education Trust disagree about many things. That makes all the more significant their common accord that the country can’t afford to retreat from policies that aim to give every child — regardless of race, ability or family income — access to a quality education. We hope it’s a message that Congress doesn’t lose sight of as it undertakes a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind act.
Posted on The Equity Line by Rachel Metz on February 12, 2015
This week, congressional staffers and others had a too-infrequent opportunity to hear from teachers about the role of assessments in education. During a Hill briefing, teachers with Teach Plus spoke from their diverse perspectives, but they all echoed a common theme: High-quality assessments — ones that are aligned to curriculum, measure growth among students at all achievement levels, and ask complex questions — are an invaluable tool for instruction. Here’s what they had to say:
Posted on The Equity Line by Kati Haycock on February 2, 2015
It’s a common refrain on Capitol Hill that the new education law Congress is working on right now should get the federal government out of micromanaging American public schools, letting states and communities decide how to educate their children.
Posted on The Equity Line by Sonja Brookins Santelises on January 27, 2015
As an educator who has spent nearly all of her professional life in urban education, I am deeply concerned about the direction that current (and admittedly much-needed) discussions about over-testing in our public schools has taken.
Posted on The Equity Line by Deborah Veney on January 22, 2015
have a very personal connection to annual testing.
When my daughter began elementary school, I decided to enroll her in a school with ethnic and economic diversity. I didn’t want her to be the only little, black girl in her class, but I also didn’t want to sacrifice academic rigor.
Posted on The Equity Line by Matt De Ferranti on January 21, 2015
Today’s Senate hearing on assessments and accountability reaffirms why annual statewide testing used to prompt meaningful action is essential for continuing the academic progress we’ve seen for students and schools over the last decade.
Posted on The Equity Line by Kati Haycock on January 11, 2015
Today, a large coalition of civil rights and disabilities organizations — including The Education Trust — released its top priorities for Congress to consider when reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as ESEA, later this year. Among those priorities, at least one might come as a bit of a surprise: continuation of the federal requirement that states test all students in grades three through eight once a year, and again at least once during high school.
Posted on The Equity Line by Kati Haycock on January 14, 2015
The joint proposal for ESEA reauthorization from the Center for American Progress and the American Federation of Teachers shows that bad policy ideas aren’t limited to the far right. If adopted, these policies would return us to a time when how much students learned hardly mattered (that is, to anybody but them).
December 10, 2015
December 2, 2015
December 1, 2015
December 1, 2015
Business, Civil Rights and Disabilities advocates call for “Assessment, Transparency and Accountability: Three Critical Elements of a Bi-Partisan Approach to Advancing both Excellence and Equity”
July 16, 2015
Dear Members of the U.S. Senate:
Today’s Senate vote on the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) marks a long-overdue milestone in the effort to update the nation’s main K-12 education law, and we applaud Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray for their bipartisan leadership.
July 16, 2015
Since HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander announced his plans to reauthorize ESEA at the beginning of this year, our organizations have worked together—across lines that often divide us on matters of public policy—to secure provisions in the law that we all think are vitally important to this nation’s future.
July 13, 2015
Dear Members of the U.S. Senate,
I write today to encourage you to vote against Amendment 2162 to the Every Child Achieves Act, offered by Senator Lee of Utah.
Amendment 2162 would require states to allow students to opt — or be opted — out of statewide assessments for any reason, effectively nullifying state policies on test participation. The Commonwealth of Kentucky, for example, has made it clear that students can opt out of the state’s public school system, but if they choose to attend public schools, they will participate in assessments. Amendment 2162 would undermine that decision and decisions like it across the country.
July 10, 2015
Dear Members of the U.S. Senate:
As leaders of the nation’s business, civil rights and disability communities, we support Senate Amendment 2156 to the Every Child Achieves Act, offered by Senators Capito and Durbin.
Senate Amendment 2156 would ensure parents, educators and policymakers have access to publicly reported data on postsecondary enrollment and remediation rates for high school graduates, both overall and for categories of students. This information will provide valuable insights on whether K-12 schools are achieving their ultimate aim: preparing all students to succeed after high school.
July 6, 2015
Under the leadership of Senators Alexander and Murray, the Senate HELP Committee has produced a positive framework for reauthorizing ESEA that will continue moving our country forward in the effort to ensure all our children receive a quality education.
April 14, 2015
Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Senators on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee:
Today, the Committee will take up the Every Child Achieves Act. There is much to like in the framework laid out by Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray, including transparency of student performance for policymakers and the public. However, the accountability sections of the bill concern us and can be improved through the adoption of four key amendments. Collectively these amendments would address a few major shortcomings in the bill and ensure a continued focus on the progress of low-income students and students of color.
April 14, 2015
Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Senators on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee:
Today, the Committee will take up the Every Child Achieves Act. The framework laid out by Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray includes powerful provisions for transparency by requiring public reporting of per-pupil expenditures of federal, state, and local funds — including actual staff salaries — for schools, districts, and states.
April 13, 2015
Members, Senate HELP Committee:
Senators Alexander and Murray have produced a positive framework for reauthorizing ESEA that will continue moving our country forward in the effort to ensure all our children receive a quality education.
April 13, 2015
Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 41 undersigned organizations, we write to express our views regarding the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. We are committed to a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that preserves the critical federal protections of that law and builds on the lessons of the past to ensure greater academic progress for all students.
February 25, 2015
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 24 undersigned organizations, we urge you to support Ranking Member Scott’s Substitute Amendment to H.R. 5, the Student Success Act. The substitute maintains important federal protections for our nation’s students and is a much needed update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The amendment replaces the outdated, rigid mandates of No Child Left Behind, and promotes local and state reforms while maintaining bedrock equity protections for all students.
February 25, 2015
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 47 undersigned organizations, we urge you to oppose H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, introduced by Chairman Kline. H.R. 5 undermines important federal protection for our nation’s students, particularly children of color; children living in poverty; children with disabilities; homeless, foster, and migrant children; children in the juvenile justice system; children still learning English; and Native children. This bill is not a much needed update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Rather, it is a rollback to a time when the needs of students in underserved communities were ignored.
Dear Members of the U.S. House of Representatives,
As leaders of the nation’s business, civil rights, and disabilities communities, we support the current requirement for statewide annual assessment in H.R. 5, the Student Success Act. However, we oppose amendment #74 to H.R. 5, offered by Representative Goodlatte of Virginia.
February 11, 2015
WASHINGTON (February 11, 2015) – Today, The Education Trust issued the following statement expressing our disappointment with the House Education Committee’s passing of Chairman John Kline’s “Student Success Act” or H.R. 5.
“Each previous iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, moved the country forward on correcting longstanding injustices in its educational systems. Unless it is significantly improved as it moves through Congress, the Student Success Act will turn back the clock.”
At the core of the federal Title I program is a bargain: a significant investment of federal dollars for disadvantaged students and a demand for significantly improved outcomes for those students in return. This brief focuses on the investment side. It examines the likely effect of the “portability” provisions currently under consideration as a part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We first explain current law and the proposed changes. Then we present data on the impact of these proposed changes across multiple states, focusing on how districts serving the highest concentrations of students in poverty would lose money at the expense of those districts serving the fewest.
February 5, 2015
Ranking Member Scott and other members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, thank you for the opportunity to address the importance of making sure all students matter in any reauthorization of ESEA that moves forward. In 2001, this committee put the finishing touches on a law that would go on to fundamentally reshape what it means to be a good school in America. Prior to that time, of course, schools could skate by on schoolwide averages, sweeping under the rug the large gaps in achievement among different groups of children. But you changed that when you declared that, in order to be a good school, you had to be good for every group of children that you served. All children had to be assessed and the results for all groups of children had to matter.
February 2, 2015
Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and other members of the Senate HELP Committee:
Thank you for your efforts to jump-start the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While current law has helped to prompt the fastest improvement since 1980 in the achievement of the very children who are the primary focus of federal education policy, the law has become outdated and, in some places, unworkable. We have learned a lot as a country in the 13 years since it was signed — lessons that should be reflected in a new, forward-looking law. While the Chairman’s discussion draft of the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act builds on some of those, we appreciate the opportunity to offer comments aimed at improving the draft to respond to other of those lessons.
February 2, 2015
Washington – Today, a coalition of leaders from the business, education, civil rights, and disability communities issued a joint letter calling on Congress to ensure that a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) includes:
- Annual, statewide assessments of all students grades three to eight, and at least once in high school;
- Public reporting of assessment results in a transparent and accessible way; and
- Accountability systems that expect faster improvement for the groups of children who have been traditionally underserved, and prompt action when any group of students underperforms.
January 11, 2015
Washington – More than 20 civil rights groups and education advocates released shared civil rights principles for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The Education Trust outlines six principles to be included in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Why Strengthening the Accountability Provisions of Every Child Achieves Is So Important
As the U.S. Senate considers approval of the Every Child Achieves Act, members will be asked to vote to strengthen the accountability provisions of the law so schools will be expected to act when any group of students in consecutive years don’t meet state-set goals. Both national and state-level data show clearly why such action is needed.
Click on a state to see national and state achievement data.