On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, reauthorizing the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) and replacing the most recent reauthorization of ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). With a few exceptions, ESSA will first take effect at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The law includes provisions to help ensure improved outcomes for all students receiving elementary and secondary education, including the following:

  • States must establish high academic content standards, and schools must teach all students  those standards to help prepare them for college and careers
  • States, districts, and schools must share information with families, students, and communities regarding annual statewide assessments that measure students' progress toward these high standards
  • States and districts must establish systems of accountability and support for all schools, and provide particular support to the lowest-performing schools, schools with low-performing subgroups, and schools with low graduation rates

Memo to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, March 2016

ESSA Overview

Accountability in ESSA: Setting the Context (Presentation for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, September 2016)  pptx format of Accountability in ESSA: Setting the Context
pdf format of                             Accountability in ESSA: Setting the Context

Authorized Programs under ESSA

ESSA contains nine titles, the majority of which provide funding to states and school districts. In return for funding, states and school districts must comply with the various requirements of the law.

Title IImproving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged
Title I, Part AImproving basic programs operated by local education agencies
Title I, Part BState assessment grants
Title I, Part CEducation of migratory children
Title I, Part DPrograms for neglected, delinquent, or at-risk children & youth
Title I, Part EFlexibility for equitable per-pupil funding
Title I, Part FGeneral provisions
Title IIPreparing, training & recruiting high-quality teachers, principals, or other school leaders
Title II, Part ASupporting effective instruction
Title II, Part BNational activities
Title IIILanguage instruction for English learners & immigrant students
Title IV21st century schools
Title IV, Part AStudent support & academic enrichment grants
Title IV, Part B21st century community learning centers
Title IV, Part CExpanding opportunity through quality charter schools
Title IV, Part DMagnet schools assistance
Title IV, Part EFamily engagement in education programs
Title IV, Part FNational activities
Title VFlexibility & accountability
Title VIIndian, Native Hawaiian, & Alaska Native education
Title VIIImpact Aid
Title VIIIGeneral provisions
Title IXEducation for the homeless & other laws
Title IX, Part AHomeless children & youths
Title IX, Part BMiscellaneous; other laws

Anticipated Funding Levels

Early estimates for Massachusetts project some gains and some losses for individual Titles and programs under ESSA in school year 2017-18 as compared to funding for school year 2016-17 under NCLB, and relatively flat funding across all programs combined. Federal estimates are available here: Fiscal Years 2015-2017 State Tables for the U.S. Department of Education.

Massachusetts’ Transition to ESSA

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) is using the 2016 calendar year to plan for its transition to the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and to begin preparing a consolidated state plan that it anticipates submitting to the U.S. Department of Education in March 2017. With a few exceptions, ESSA will first take effect at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

For Massachusetts schools and districts, the most notable changes under the law will relate to the design of the state’s school and district accountability and assistance system.

Stakeholder Outreach

ESE began its transition to ESSA by focusing on changes to its current school and district accountability and assistance system. The work has been organized into four phases:

  1. Listening (Spring 2016): Asking a broad range of stakeholders for their thoughts about the purpose and design of the state’s accountability and assistance system
  2. Modeling (Summer/Fall 2016): Developing specific proposals based on the feedback we heard in the listening phase
  3. Listening (Fall 2016): Sharing our draft proposals with stakeholders to gain further feedback.
  4. Revising (Winter 2016-17): Refine and improve proposed modifications based on additional feedback from stakeholders

Modifications to the accountability and assistance system will be implemented at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

Community Forums on ESSA

In November and December 2016, ESE will be hosting a series of public community forums on ESSA. To participate in a forum, please register online at http://DESE.ESSA.sgizmo.com/s3

If you unable to attend one of our public forums, please give us your thoughts via our online ESSA survey.

Opportunities to Provide Feedback on Accountability & Assistance System Design

In spring 2016, ESE launched an online feedback form to gather high-level feedback from a variety of stakeholders about Massachusetts' school and district accountability and assistance system. ESE heard from approximately 2,200 groups and individuals on issues such as priorities for the system, specific accountability measures used, and the types of supports and assistance that schools and district should receive.

In fall 2016, ESE will develop specific proposals based on the input collected during the initial listening phase and will share draft proposals with stakeholders for additional feedback.

Individuals or organizations interested in providing additional feedback may email letters to essa@doe.mass.edu at any time.

Opportunities to Provide Feedback on Other Aspects of ESSA

In fall 2016 ESE will notify stakeholders about different ways to provide input and feedback on Massachusetts’ overall consolidated state plan under ESSA. To have your organization added to the list of stakeholders to be notified, please email essa@doe.mass.edu.

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