Policy Update: ESSA

On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Success Act (ESSA), a replacement for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and a build-on of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. ESSA is intended to "ensure opportunity for all of America's students" by holding all students to high academic standards, preparing all students for college and career success, providing more students access to high-quality preschools, and other important initiatives. This plan heavily focuses on making resources and opportunities accessible for students and keeping states and teaching institutions accountable. A crucial difference between NCLB and ESSA is that ESSA is allowing states to decide how it will implement these core foundations laid out by the ESSA. Massachusetts has decided to use the 2016 school year to plan and propose its ESSA transition plan.

For more information on ESSA and the ESEA, click here


On July 26, Massachusetts' Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) held a forum with stakeholders to gather ideas for the state's transition plan. Organizations such as MASSCreative, the Boston Student Advisory Council, Mass Insight Education, Teach Plus and STAND for Children, presented ideas including rewarding schools that lower suspension rates and embrace alternative student discipline, and expanding accountability measures to improve under-performing schools before they fail.

  • Currently, DESE is trying to finish modeling its transition plan and gathering any final feedback from stakeholders.
  • Throughout December, the DESE will propose its plan using the feedback it received and in January, it will revise its model based on the feedback from the presentation.

For a more detailed action plan, please visit DESE's site