Thursday, December 8, 2016

Introduction of ESSA

My name is Penny Sweeney and I am currently an elementary librarian in the Liverpool Central School District (LCSD).  I am also President-Elect of the New York State Librarians Association/Section of School Librarians (NYLA/SSL).  Through my work with NYLA/SSL, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the New York State ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Think Tank.  I am excited to use this knowledge to help LCSD stakeholders understand and navigate this new law. I will be using this blog to share information about what ESSA is, what the purpose of the Think Tank is, areas the Think Tank is working on and how stakeholders can contribute to the process.

Let's begin with an overview of what ESSA is.


ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) is the reauthorization of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act). ESEA was enacted in 1965 by President Johnson and was originally a civil rights law designed to increase equity in education. The law focused on closing socio-economic gaps. No Child Left Behind became the new Education law in 2002, and focused on identifying gaps in student education. Eventually it became clear the NCLB was not meeting the needs of US students, so in 2010, lawmakers began to craft a new education law.  The resulting law is ESSA, passed in December 2015.  The state of New York receives  $1.6 billion from this law.  Funding within ESSA addresses many different areas such as:

  • School-wide programs
  • Targeted assistance schools
  • State assessment grants
  • Coverage for specific students (migratory, at-risk, English Language Learners, immigrants, Native Americans, and homeless)
  • Professional training and development of pre-service teacher, teachers, principals and other school leaders
  • Programs such as 21st Century Schools, Charter Schools, Magnet Schools, Family Engagement, Education Innovation and Research, Promise Neighborhoods, School Safety, and Academic Enrichment

Key pieces of the new law include:

  • Accountability plans, goals and systems
  • Low-performing schools- identify and address interventions
  • Testing requirements
  • Standards
  • English Language Learners
  • Programs (Block grants, pre-school)
  • Weighted student funding
  • Teacher and school leader development

 The law takes effect in the 2017-2018 school year, and 2016-2017 is being spent preparing and understanding the changes. This new law is meant to be more flexible for both schools and states in how to best address the needs of students, with less influence from the federal government. It is important that there is consensus in interpreting the law, and so the federal government has released 3 Notices of Proposed Rulemaking Guidances, asking for feedback from the public (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Guidance).  These guidelines include
  • Accountability, State Plans and Data Reporting.  
  • Title I, Parts A and B.
  • Supplement, Not Supplant 

 New York has responded to these here:  New York State Ed's response to these rulemaking guidelines.

This gives a brief overview of what ESSA is, and where the nation currently is with it.  My next entry will be sharing how New York State has created a Think Tank of stakeholders to address the issues, concerns and development of the state plan in regards to ESSA.

Sources of information:

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