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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015. The measure reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which is the national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. The new law replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and builds on key areas of progress in recent years, made possible by the efforts of educators, communities, parents, and students across the country. ESSA includes provisions that will help to ensure success for students and schools. Below are highlights of the ESSA law:

  • Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America's disadvantaged and high-need students.
  • Requires—for the first time—that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
  • Ensures that vital information is provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students' progress toward those high standards.
  • Sustains and expands access to high-quality pre-school.
  • Maintains an expectation that there will be accountability and action to effect positive change in our lowest-performing schools, where groups of students are not making progress, and where graduation rates are low over extended periods.
  • Requiring that, when students fall behind, steps are taken to help them, and their schools, improve, with a particular focus on the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools, high schools with low graduation rates, and schools where student groups, including students from low-income families, English learners, students with disabilities, and students of color, are falling behind.
  • Empowering State and local decision makers to continue to refine their own systems for school improvement.
  • Continuing to require annual, comparable statewide assessments, so that parents and educators have the information they need to make sure children are making progress, while encouraging review and elimination of unnecessary tests.
  • Encourage states and districts to put in place new supports for teachers and school leaders, including increases in compensation that are based in part on student learning and other measures.
  • Provide continued support for magnet schools designed to improve diversity and increase academic achievement.
  • Protecting students from low-income families and students of color from being taught at disproportionate rates by ineffective teachers – building on existing state plans to ensure equitable access to excellent educators.

Assessment and Accountability under ESSA

Title I Assessment

In general, ESSA did not change assessment requirements. All states accepting Title I federal funds for use by LEAs, must assess pupils as follows:
Reading/language arts and mathematics – assessed annually in each of grades three through eight and once in grade nine, ten, eleven, or twelve.
Science – assess once during each of three specified grade spans: grades three through five, six through nine, and ten through twelve.
English language proficiency – assess ELs annually in each of grades kindergarten through grade twelve.


State and local indicators must be reported. California has organized the data into three categories on the California Dashboard: Academic Performance, Academic Engagement, and Conditions and Climate.

Academic Performance:
  • English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA)
  • Mathematics
  • College/Career
  • English Learner Progress
  • Academic Standards (Local Indicator Priority #2)
Academic Engagement:
  • Chronic Absenteeism
  • Graduation Rate
  • Access to a Broad Course of Study (Local Indicator Priority #7)
Conditions and Climate:
  • Suspension Rate
  • Basic: Teachers, Instructional Materials, Facilities (Local Indicator Priority #1)
  • Parent Engagement (Local Indicator Priority #3)
  • Local Climate Survey (Local Indicator Priority #6)