The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. The previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, was enacted in 2002.
- Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America's disadvantaged and high-need students.
- Requires that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
- Ensures that vital information is provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students' progress toward those high standards.
- Helps to support and grow local innovations—including evidence-based and place-based interventions developed by local leaders and educators.
- Sustains and expands investments in increasing access to high-quality preschool.
- Maintains an expectation that there will be accountability and action to effect positive change in lowest-performing schools, where groups of students are not making progress, and where graduation rates are low over extended periods of time.
History of ESEA
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who believed that "full educational opportunity" should be "our first national goal." From its inception, ESEA was a civil rights law.
ESEA offered new grants to districts serving low-income students, federal grants for textbooks and library books, funding for special education centers, and scholarships for low-income college students. Additionally, the law provided federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education.