When Equity Is Optional: ESSA’s Fifth Anniversary and Early LessonsfromImplementation
Panelists Deborah Delisle, President and CEO, Alliance for Excellent Education@DebDelisle John B. King, Jr., President and CEO, The Education Trust@JohnBKing Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League@MARCMORIAL Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS@JMurguia_Unidos Erica L. Green, Correspondent, The New York Times (moderator)@EricaLG
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gave states much more flexibility in designing their school accountability systems. Unfortunately, newanalyses from the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed)show that flexibility and equity often conflict. Under ESSA, the state in which students livematters a great deal.
Our When Equity Is Optional series of analyses finds that states have used ESSA’s flexibility to take wildly varied approaches to school ratings and school improvement. The result is that students in low-performing schools in different states have very different odds of receiving the support they need to improve. Using data from the first year of ESSA implementation, we find that whilesome states ensure thatthe lowest-rated schools and high schools with low graduation rates are consistently identifiedfor support, others made choices that result in these schools—and their students—being overlooked.The variation is especially troubling given that, across all states, students of color are much more likely to attend low-rated schools.
All4Ed held a conversation on ESSA’s fifth birthday to reflect on early lessons of ESSA implementation and the implications for students of color and students from low-income families.
The Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those underperforming and those historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.all4ed.org
To better understand ESSA and its equity guardrails that protect historically underserved students, check out our Every Student Succeeds Act page. To learn more about the ten states we studied and to read all of the analyses in All4Ed’s When Equity Is Optional series on school ratings and identification for support, visit our publication page below.