Whenever new education legislation is approved, there’s bound to be a great deal of attention. For example, teachers want to know how it will affect their curriculum, and parents want to know how it will affect their kids. The No Child Left Behind Act was put into place in 2005-06. The Every Student Succeeds Act is scheduled to go into effect the 2017-18 school year, but what do we really know about it? Is this a step forward in education or a step back?
The goal of education-based laws is often to improve the quality of the educational system for students. How the law goes about achieving those goals can generate a great deal of information to sift through as an educator or parent, so let’s start by comparing some of the basic elements of these two key statutes.
The chart below offers a comparative summary of some key elements of the NCLB and the ESSA:
|Questions||No Child Left Behind (NCLB)||Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)|
|Is there flexible funding for schools?||No||Yes|
|Who decides if the school is failing?||Federal government||The state and school district|
|How is testing used?||To test and motivate low performing schools||To create innovative assessments and reduce unnecessary testing|
|Are Pre-K resources available?||Limited||A focus on the structure of Pre-K education|
|Can waivers & conditionals be utilized?||Yes, both||Yes, but the secretary is not allowed to issue waivers conditional to a new state requirement|
|Are test scores used to compile data?||Primary tests only||Several tests and other evaluation measures|
|How will students be tested?||Based on a subgroup average||Individually|
The broad difference between the two statutes is the NCLB provides the federal government with oversight of a school’s testing and curriculum, while the ESSA favors oversight by the state, local school district and the teachers. In so doing, the ESSA can be seen as relying more on the decision-making of those who are most directly involved with students’ educational processes. As we move toward 2017 and beyond, expect the ESSA to involve revision of the regulations, data and plans formerly in use under the NCLB, in favor of what could be a more locally-focused approach and series of reportable metrics.