On December 10, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. ESSA is the most recent version of the federal government’s biggest K-12 law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which came into effect in 1965.

Download our Overview of ESSA

ESSA contains a number of meaningful levers that education leaders, parents, members of the business and civil rights communities, and advocates can use to advance education equity.

To be clear, none of these levers will guarantee gap-closing and improved achievement for all. No law, no matter how strong, could ever do that.

But taken together, they 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.

We at The Education Trust look forward to working alongside equity advocates from all corners — from classrooms to statehouses, community centers to boardrooms — to take hold of these blocks and together build the schools and systems all students need and deserve.

Our additional fact sheets include more information on each of these levers, including information on what ESSA requires and questions equity-minded advocates should be asking. Those looking for even more detail about the specifics of ESSA can check out our detailed summary.

Use these buttons for a deeper dive into each of the levers:



Accountability Systems

Public Reporting

Teachers and Leaders


What is in ESSA?

Want to share all six factsheets and overview with your colleagues? Download them here!

1. When used on this page, the term “district” refers to both traditional public school districts and charters.