Will The Every Student Succeeds Act Help Your Family?

New Act Brings Updates to No Child Left Behind

There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the quality of education in the United States. Parents from all backgrounds are becoming more involved in demanding that local schools provide a quality education which will enable their children to excel at higher levels of education and reap the benefits of a higher quality of life. In 1965 the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) was enacted to open education possibilities to more families.

This was amended in 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Now, in December of 2015, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to supplement and strengthen some of the perceived weaknesses of the previous legislation. The President noted that the bill reaffirms the basic right of every child to receive a quality education. Some of the primary provisions of ESSA include:

  • Academic Standards: The Act proposes holding students to higher academic standards in order to prepare them for the rigors of college and careers.
  • Accountability: States will be held more accountable for students who have fallen behind, and will be required to direct more resources into programs aimed at supporting these students and their schools. This should help in identifying and improving school systems where students are falling behind, especially those with low academic achievement rates or high dropout rates.
  • Empowerment: Some states felt that No Child Left Behind imposed too many solutions from the federal level that were not appropriate for individual states. ESSA gives more power to state and local educators to implement their own systems to improve education based on what is most effective for their particular student population.
  • Incentives: High-performing teachers in high-need schools will be identified and singled out for recognition and reward.
  • Testing: The amount of testing required for students has become a major source of contention among parents, educators, academic officials, and political representatives. ESSA will work to reduce the amount of testing required, to ensure that test preparation does not overshadow academic advancement.
  • Preschool: Because of the link between preparation and academic success at the earliest ages, more emphasis will be placed on giving children access to high-quality preschool learning environments.
  • Charter Schools: The Act will seek to identify charter schools which have succeeded and replicate their academic programs in the public school arena.


The key words to success for this Act and for the students it affects are information, involvement and support. Parents need to be aware of what is occurring in the local school system and hold their local educators responsible for ensuring the success of their children. They need to make their voices heard regarding issues that affect learning, testing, goals, and achievement. Most of all, elected officials and those appointed to education oversight entities such as local school boards or state education committees, need to provide unconditional support for all of the schools and students under their jurisdiction.

Although much of this Act is geared at improving access for economically-disadvantaged students, it also challenges students in all communities to succeed academically at all levels. It is yet to be seen how this will affect the overall financial aid and student loan process. The Department of Education committee that will draft regulations for implementing the ESSA has scheduled preliminary meetings for March and April 2016. Stay alert for information on these committee meetings and provide input to your elected representatives as to how you feel college financial aid should be adapted to make these goals come true.