Every Student Succeeds Act
One Law to Educate Them All:
The law was initially passed in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty," a far-reaching federal Civil Rights effort.
ESSA marks a scaling back of the U.S. Department of Education's influence after what was seen by some lawmakers as federal overreach under former education secretary Arne Duncan.
Put to the Test:
The law is also intended to scale back unpopular aspects of its Bush-era No Child Left Behind reauthorization, such as an over-reliance on standardized test scores, that have been seen as stifling innovation.
With an implementation that began in the fall finally putting it into practice, the Every Student Succeeds Act has graduated from 2016's Obsession of the Year to 2017's Policy of the Year. And there's a lot to take in.
Initially passed in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, this latest reauthorization — which replaces the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act — was celebrated by President Barack Obama as a bipartisan "Christmas miracle." With its passage was expected a return of significant power to state and local education officials that would include scaled back approaches to standardized testing, more access to preschool programs, more say in accountability standards and teacher evaluation procedures, and new Title I spending regulations.
The election of President Donald Trump and confirmation of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that followed raised even more questions about how the law's implementation would go, with many regulations written for the law by the prior administration being scrapped. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Senate education committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a former secretary of education himself, questioning the Trump education department's approach to approving states' plans.
But what are states actually doing so far?
We examined the academic indicators named in ESSA plans for the 14 states approved by the Education Department as of September, finding a handful of interesting stats. Among them: Only three of the states explicitly mentioned the implementation of some form of school climate survey in their indicators.
For more interesting stats, check out the chart below.
By the numbers
We took a look at what the first 14 state ESSA plans approved by the U.S. Department of Education as of September named as their academic indicators and pulled the following stats.
Named science in their indicators, with most including it as a school quality/student success metric
Identified chronic absenteeism as a school quality/student success metric
Named physical fitness or physical education in their indicators — the same number using social studies as a school quality/student success metric
The approval process on states' ESSA plans is far from complete, so it's hard to get a clear picture of what the most popular indicators are so far. But it's an issue we'll be revisiting once that process is complete.