Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Signed into law in December 2015 by President Obama, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)  reauthorizes the fifty (50) year old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 by replacing key requirements of the outdated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Beginning in 2016, the U.S. Department of Education took the first steps to implement ESSA.

ESSA, a federal education law, creates a long-term, stable commitment to equal opportunity for all students. The new ESSA law provides states additional flexibility and encourages states and schools to innovate and build upon past success while at the same time, being accountable for students. This increased flexibility gives states and school districts an opportunity to tailor strategies and interventions to meet the needs of students and schools.

ESSA included provisions that will help to ensure success for students and schools; below are just a few. The law:

  1. Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.
  2. Requires that all students be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
  3. Ensure educators, families, students, and communities receive annual statewide assessment information that is vital to measuring a student’s progress toward high standards.
  4. Helps support innovative approaches including evidence-based strategies developed by local educators and school leaders.
  5. Maintains an expectation of accountability and action to effect positive change in Maine’s most challenged schools.

Policy Resources

Title IV-A Coalition: Frequently asked questions regarding Title IV-A

National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (school climate): The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students. The Center offers information and technical assistance to states, districts, schools, institutions of higher learning, and communities focused on improving student support and academic enrichment.

Evidence for ESSA: In December 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as the main federal law governing K-12 education. Within the bill are provisions with potentially revolutionary implications for education because they promote using federal dollars on programs with evidence of effectiveness. More evidence on what works to increase student success is available now than ever before, and ESSA encourages using strategies with evidence of impact.

Attendance Works: The 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (called the No Child Left Behind Act when it was updated in 2002). ESSA gives states more power to set their own accountability standards within the parameters described in the law. One new requirement is that states define and measure school quality. ESSA also requires states to report chronic absence data and allows federal spending on training to reduce absenteeism.

What Works Clearinghouse


Janette Kirk
Chief,  Office of Federal Programs
Email: Janette.kirk@maine.gov
Phone: 207-441-2958