Every Student Succeeds Act


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 is the primary education law in the United States for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. It was updated in 2015 and is now called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that was in effect from 2002 to 2015. This law allocates federal funds to states and school districts through specific programs outlined in the legislation.

The main goal of ESSA is to ensure that public schools provide a good education and are accountable for student learning and success. ESSA also includes initiatives to improve the quality of teachers and school leaders, promote evidence-based educational methods, offer more educational options, and address the needs of specific student groups, like those in poverty and English learners.

Why It Matters

ESEA, primarily Title I, has essential rules to make sure that students with disabilities, including those with learning disabilities, are part of the plans to make education better.

ESSA lets states make their owns plans for accountability. Even though test scores are still important, they’re not the only way to judge how well a school is doing. States can choose other measures, like student involvement or college and career readiness. States have to share this information in a clear way, and each state has a public “Report Card” with this information.

Deeper Dive

Deeper Dive

The fine details of any law are often complicated and specific. For more in-depth information on the ESEA, see our Learn the Law breakdown. This PDF document takes a much deeper dive into the Every Student Succeeds Act.

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