Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Protecting the Legal and Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities
|Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)|
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (Pub.L. 114–95) was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015. ESSA is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27, 20 U.S.C. ch.70), a federal statute which funds primary and secondary education; emphasizes equal access to education, establishes high standards and accountability, and aims to shorten the achievement gaps between students by providing each child with fair and equal opportunities to achieve an exceptional education.
There are substantial changes which create new flexibility in accountability and eliminate federally-mandated interventions and turn around strategies. States must conduct a planning process which should include parents and other stakeholders. The highly qualified teacher requirements are gone -- replaced by a requirement that teachers must meet state certification requirements. The ESSA does maintain the basic architecture of standards-based reform and annual assessment requirements and sates must cap at 1 percent of all students the application of alternate academic achievement standards and related assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
COPAA works actively on ESEA/ESSA because students with disabilities have benefited greatly from the law’s continued requirement for their academic achievement to be measured, reported and included in school and district accountability decisions. As a result, more students with disabilities have been afforded the opportunity to learn, master grade level academic content and graduate high school with their peers.
COPAA members have the opportunity to influence state planning as ESSA requires states to refine their accountability systems to provide the right combination of pressure and support for school improvement. This accountability system will identify which schools and districts are required to provide targeted intervention and support when groups of students don’t meet state reading and math standards.
ESSA requires states to engage stakeholders in the planning process. In the coming months, as state leaders hash out what those accountability systems will look like, advocates must actively participate and stand guard to ensure that these new systems focus squarely on raising achievement for ALL students.
To learn more about accountability systems and how to ensure all students matter, visit Students Can’t Wait, developed with COPAA’s input and expertise.
Policy priorities for ESEA include:
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