Why Does ESSA Matter?
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind, gives states considerable flexibility to craft their own accountability systems — in the process asking states to make crucial decisions about what it means to be a successful school, what rate of academic progress is acceptable, and what to do when schools are not meeting our expectations.
ESSA presents a critical opportunity to improve New York’s education system – a system riven by massive systemic inequities in access, opportunity and performance, especially for students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners.
We Believe New York State Should:
Make the main thing the main thing.
To fulfill our high expectations for all students, New York’s accountability system under ESSA must ensure that academic achievement drives school performance determinations and improvement strategies by:
- Maintaining high academic standards
- Keeping student achievement and attainment front and center
- Including a limited number of key additional indicators, like college and career readiness, chronic absenteeism, and student discipline
Take action when schools are not meeting rigorous expectations for any group of students.
New York’s accountability system must set ambitious performance and gap-closing goals for all groups of students and implement evidence-based strategies when those goals are not met.
To help schools improve, generate additional data beyond test scores — including by addressing teacher equity and resource equity.
New York’s accountability system must incorporate a holistic vision of what contributes to student success and what it means to be a quality school in order to inform the improvement process for schools that are not meeting expectations.
Make families and educators full partners through transparency and inclusion.
New York’s accountability system must clearly communicate whether schools are meeting expectations for all groups of students and, on an ongoing basis, include families and educators in the development and improvement processes.
Read Our “Closer Look” Policy Briefs That Examine Equity Issues That Can Be Addressed By ESSA
ESSA is an opportunity for New York State to focus attention, urgency, and resources on ensuring that schools enable homeless students to achieve at high levels. Read the policy brief, 1-page Executive Summary, and school case studies.
Not every piece of important information can or should be an accountability indicator. ESSA asks New York to determine not just what matters in our accountability system, but what matters for what purpose.
Policymakers should set ambitious and attainable long-term achievement goals that are consistent for all groups of students — and ensure that schools receive the attention and help they need if they start to fall behind.
ESSA can help increase awareness of critical early learning and early grades strategies and provide the urgency, resources, tools and transparency to expand high-quality learning opportunities.
ESSA can help demonstrate whether schools are preparing students for college and the workforce and encourage them to improve access to strong educators and rigorous coursework.
ESSA can help New York create a positive approach to school improvement driven by the needs of students.