ASCD logo  MARCH 2, 2016
Capitol Connection

ESSA on the Run

As state and district leaders dive into Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation, the U.S. Department of Education has released a new ESSA FAQ document (PDF). The new guidance highlights accountability system transitions for states with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver flexibility, and addresses changes to Title I, Title II, and Title III programs. The document clarifies which accountability requirements states and districts must meet during the 2016–17 school year, and which previous requirements can be ditched.

The new guidance reiterates that NCLB waivers are null and void on August 1, 2016. Additionally, it says that states do not need to continue to meet waiver requirements that ESSA doesn't address, such as teacher evaluations based on student outcomes, but that waiver states must continue to focus on the lowest performing schools and those with large achievement gaps. This guidance follows other information and resources shared by the department to help states take the reins in assessment and accountability decisions and plan for full implementation of ESSA in the 2017–18 school year.

The department has already committed to issuing more guidance soon. Stay tuned with Capitol Connection in the coming weeks as ASCD’s Government Relations team issues FAQs on topics that are most important to you.

In other ESSA news, Acting Secretary John King testified before the House education committee during a hearing to address implementation of the law. King faced questions about his willingness to adhere to the restrictions ESSA places on the department, and the committee stressed the need for the department to balance new state flexibility with a responsibility to hold states accountable for addressing underperforming schools. Similar conversations took place during King’s nomination hearing before the Senate education committee. The Senate committee is expected to vote on, and approve, King’s nomination next week.

Next steps for ESSA include rulemaking on several specific Title I issues, as required by the new law. ASCD nominated three educators (PDF) to be a part of the negotiated rulemaking process. Additionally, Senate education committee chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) plans to hold five more hearings on ESSA to hear from both U.S. Department of Education representatives and outside witnesses.

Find the latest ESSA updates at


     Did You Know?

The Obama administration is seeking to combat chronic absenteeism though two new projects: the Success Mentors Initiative, which falls under My Brother’s Keeper, and an Ad Council campaign to engage parents on this crucial issue. Chronically absent students hit lower levels of achievement than their peers, and chronic absenteeism is a powerful predictor of which students will eventually drop out of school. Read more.

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