Expect Slow Transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act

Transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB, is the product of bipartisan efforts in Congress to give states greater control of accountability and academic standards. State officials are closely watching as the U.S. Department of Education releases more information on what the new act changes in accountability system requirements and funding mechanisms.

States have been given the opportunity to apply to the U.S. Department of Education for waivers to utilize their own systems for school improvement since 2011. Many states successfully requested waivers from certain requirements of federal law by showing a commitment to rigorous state-developed plans for improving educational achievement for all students. 

The ESSA provides all states with the ability to develop their own accountability systems and provides the opportunity for state-level funding decisions.

So what happens next?

The transition from NCLB to the newly reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act doesn’t mean immediate changes for states. The letter below from the U.S. Department of Education hints that there will be a transition versus an abrupt end to NCLB. The transition will take place over the next 1.5 years.  


The ESSA requires that any action taken to support school improvement is driven by student outcomes. This act also replaces more than 50 of the grant programs under NCLB with a block grant, the Local Academic Flexible Grant, to provide states and school districts the funding flexibility to support initiatives based on their local needs. It is also of note that this act consolidates programs under one area of the bill while maintaining separate funding streams. These programs are currently located in different parts of Title I and in Titles III, VI, and VII of the ESEA and include the Migrant Education, Neglected and Delinquent, English Language Acquisition, Rural Education, and Indian Education programs.

The Department of Education will host two public hearings to provide advice and recommendations on issues related to the ESSA on Jan. 11 and Jan. 19.  The meetings will be live streamed at http://edstream.ed.gov/webcast/Play/7592f68fb7404eedb2b89ea72032188c1d.

The agency is also accepting written comments through Jan. 21. Instructions on submitting comments can be found at the Federal Register notice. The department will decide whether to proceed with negotiated rulemaking after considering the feedback received via the public hearings and online.

Key takeaways from the new ESSA are highlighted in the infographic below.