Making the Transition from NCLB to ESSA
Below are the most clearly comparable provisions between the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorizations—the former No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the provisions implemented since NCLB, and the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Many implementation details and requirements of the ESSA are still in the discussion phase, but listed below are some the major points that have been clarified and how they compare to provisions of NCLB.
- ESSA is expected to be fully in place for the 2017-2018 school year.
- Mandatory testing in reading and mathematics in grades 3 thru 8, and once in high school, remains in place. But, the choice of which test to use may be more flexible and will determined by the state. Waivers previously granted will expire in August 2017.
- “Highly Qualified Teachers” by federal definition are no longer required to be verified by individual districts.
- “Effective” teachers must be equitably distributed across the school district.
- Secretary of Education may no longer recommend or require a specific set of standards to be used within a state. No competitive grants can depend upon a certain set of standards being adopted state-wide.
- Title program funds are being consolidated into fewer bundles. Early childhood and pre-kindergarten program funding is explicitly protected.
- States will have latitude in determining criteria to identify districts needing intervention (they still must identify the bottom 5%), and will be expected to identify an acceptable plan for improvement for those districts.
- Class size restrictions funded by Title II will still be allowed, but the reduction will only be funded to the “researched level of proven results.” (What exactly that wording means, or the specific number of students that defines ‘class size restriction’ remains undetermined.)
- Teacher evaluation methods or criteria will be left to the states to manage—no longer a federal mandate.
The National Education Association has an excellent collection of documents regarding the implementation of ESSA:
The following four PDF documents will help further clarify the new ESSA laws: