In early December of 2015, Congress, in a bi-partisan vote, replaced the No Child Left Behind Act with the new law, Every Child Succeeds Act (“ESSA”) which is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
The following is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the provisions in the new law but provides a summary of key elements that may impact our clients:
- Transfers authority for accountability, educator evaluations and school improvements from the federal government to the states and local districts.
- Ensures that states are able to choose their challenging academic standards in reading and math aligned to higher education in the state without interference from the federal government. The federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adapt or maintain any particular set of standards, including Common Core.
- Requires consultation with school psychologists and other specialized instructional personal in the development of state and local plans.
- Recognizes school based mental health services as an evidence-based whole-school improvement and targeted intervention strategy.
- Authorizes significant investments for states and districts to implement; comprehensive school mental health services, efforts to improve school climate and school safety, strategies to reduce bullying and harassment, and activities to improve collaboration between school, family and community.
For Children with Disabilities
- Ensures access to the general education curriculum.
- Ensures access to accommodations on assessments.
- Ensures Concepts of Universal Design for Learning.
- Insures provisions that requires local educational agencies to provide evidence based learning in schools with consistently under-performing subgroups.
- Requires states in Title 1 plans to outline how they will improve conditions for learning including reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, overuse of discipline practices and reduce the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).