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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
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The Elementary Secondary Education Act is now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (Pub.L. 114–95). ESSA was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015. ESSA is a reauthorization of the ESEA (Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27, 20 U.S.C. ch.70), the 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 to ESSA which create new flexibility in accountability and eliminate federally-mandated interventions and turn around strategies. 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 the use of the alternate assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

COPAA works actively on 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 along with their peers. 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.

Click here for more details on the changes included in ESSA.

Get Involved

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. Eighteen states have indicated they will submit their ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education by the Spring deadline. All remaining states are submitting in early Fall. See below for a link to what your state is doing. It's important to stay engaged as final decisions are made on state accountability decisions that will impact every classroom. Together, 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 your state’s planning timeline and process, use this resource

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 related to ESSA include:  

o   Assessment

o   Charter Schools

 Teacher Quality Coalition (of which COPAA is a Member)

o   Safe Schools 



Archived ESEA Materials



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