Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Under Trump

The election of Donald Trump to the White House could be a significant diversion in the implementation of the nearly year-old Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA, that was passed in December. It won’t be fully in place until the 2017-18 school year. The Obama administration did propose regulations to set the course for the law’s implementation, which may look very different from here on out.

  1. What happens with the regulations?  
    The Obama administration put out four sets of draft regulations on the law, with none of them final. It will be hard to see significant, initial changes to the regulations governing assessments because those were successfully negotiated by a group of educators and advocates. But parts of the accountability regulations have been controversial, including a requirement that states come up with an overall rating for each of their schools. It’s possible—and in fact, likely—that Trump and Company may tweak or toss those proposed regulations. Less certainty for states, which are slated to start handing in their plans this spring.

  2. What’s the bar for approving state plans?  
    ESSA allows the education secretary to give the final yea or nay on state accountability plans after a group of peer reviewers examines them. The Trump administration will get to name and instruct those peer reviewers, which may sound like an in-the-weeds task, but could have real policy implications. The issues on the table are wonky, sure.

  3. What gets enforced?  
    There were a lot of things under the No Child Left Behind Act, ESSA’s predecessor, that were part of the law but that the Bush and Obama administrations didn’t enforce much. An example is a requirement that highly qualified teachers should be distributed equitably among poor and less poor schools. There could certainly be similar examples of things that are on the books in ESSA. Since the Trump administration will be the first to enforce ESSA, it could be “easier and less disruptive” for it to simply ignore parts of the law.

  4. What happens with those pilot programs?  
    Remember the Innovative Assessment pilot and the Weighted Student Funding formula pilots? The Trump administration gets to decide when to open those up and monitor them.

  5. Is there more to be done through legislation?  
    Congressional conservatives had a lot of priorities that didn’t make it into ESSA, which is, after all, a bipartisan compromise. Pushing through Title I portability, which would allow federal dollars to follow students to the public, or potentially private, school of their choice. A provision along those lines was initially in the House version of ESSA, but it got scrapped in a conference committee, in part because the Obama administration wasn’t enthusiastic about it. Trump, by contrast, has pitched taking $20 billion in federal money and directing it to school choice programs, including private school choice.

  6. Based on http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2016/11/five_things_to_watch_on_essa_u.html


Derek Turner