The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Our Schools
In 2015, Congress passed a new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. This law works to shine a light on performance gaps between student groups that persist in our schools. In Washington, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is responsible for implementing this law.
One of the key changes in the plan is to provide more flexibility and support to schools. Under ESSA, our freedom to help students has been greatly expanded. We can use evidence-based strategies that will address the unique needs of our students to help all of our students succeed.
Washington’s ESSA Plan outlines initiatives to attract and retain effective educators, especially for students of color and low-income students. Additionally, OSPI will identify more schools that have gaps in student performance between student groups. With this identification comes targeted funding and other supports to help reduce and eventually eliminate those gaps.
ESSA also allowed OSPI to rethink Washington’s federal accountability system. They heard that schools are measured too rigidly on assessments, and made some changes. In the new accountability system, assessment proficiency is still a factor, as assessments are still required by federal law, but schools will also be measured on student growth, graduation rates, English Learner progress, and school climate indicators, including attendance, dual credit opportunities, and 9th Graders on Track to graduation. This approach will help parents understand a fuller picture of school success. The index will launch in Spring of 2018.