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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) returns decision making for our nation’s education back where it belongs — in the hands of local educators, families, and communities — while keeping the focus on students most in need.

  • ESSA will help to ensure that all students have the resources and support they need regardless of ZIP code.
  • ESSA departs from the 14-year reign of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) by delivering the time and flexibility needed by schools, families, communities, and educators to do what works for students.
  • ESSA Timeline: All ESSA provisions are scheduled to go into effect by the 2017-2018 school year, so now is the time for educators to raise their voices and impact decisions.

Learn how the states below are already delivering on the promise of ESSA in their communities.


Broad Range of Education Leaders attend ESSA Summit sponsored by the Anchorage Education Association

With just months to go, the conversation around ESSA in Alaska’s largest school district continues to gain momentum. On February 4, almost 70 education partners and community leaders attended an ESSA summit in Anchorage to address how ESSA will impact students, educators, schools, and the community.

Representatives with Great Alaska Schools, University of Alaska at Anchorage, Alaska PTA, Totem Association of Education Support Personnel, Anchorage Principal Association, Anchorage Student Advisory Board, Anchorage School District and others discussed over-testing, teacher evaluations, student assessment, state accountability plans, and other issues.

The event was led by the Anchorage Education Association (AEA) with the intent of further developing their 2016-2017 “Bargaining for the Common Good” campaign. Organizers also wanted to establish a community platform around the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Last November, a similar group of education leaders in Alaska convened in preparation for a statewide ESSA assembly scheduled for March. Their goal is the same as many local and state Associations, school districts, and other stakeholders across the nation: Coordinate efforts around the overhauled federal law before it goes into effect. For that they have until the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

The summit started with a panel of educators, parents, and students who broke into five groups to discuss in detail the new education law. Students were assigned to each group as facilitators and note takers. Their notes are available at

According to organizers, the most discussed issues involved over-testing, oversight of student needs, how to weigh indicators that go into measuring school quality, and how Alaskans should respond to the flexibility in ESSA that is in such contrast with the No Child Left Behind Act, the previous version of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).


Tentative Agreement Reached to Reduce Standardized Testing

Members of the Sacramento Classroom Teachers Association’s (SCTA) ESSA Implementation Team are being credited with leading the way to a tentative agreement to reduce standardized testing within the Sacramento City Unified School District. The team of SCTA members created a broad coalition of students, families, and community partners to participate in the bargaining process. In particular, the group agreed to work together to reduce testing measures.

Members of SCTA plan to help train and host other NEA affiliates interested in strengthening community partnerships to reduce standardized testing in their areas. The goal for many school districts across the nation is to speak up to ensure ESSA implementation policies are in place by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.



ESSA in Your Backyard: Mesa County Valley School District 51, Colorado (PDF)

The new education law raises questions about how its policy provisions will become classroom practice. Learn how one local association is taking action and creating their ESSA plan.



Delaware Gets Ready to Submit State Plan

Throughout the spring of 2017, states will be submitting their ESSA implementation plans to the U.S Department of Education. Representatives from the Delaware State Education Association played a prominent role in these conversations. The Delaware Department of Education tapped into the expertise of all stakeholders in designing its plan. In September, state officials held two weeks of community conversations around the state to discuss student support and improvement, supporting excellent education for all students, and measures of school success and reporting. Additional discussion groups were held throughout the fall.

After the first draft was completed in October, stakeholders continued to provide feedback through February during the public comment phase.

The department of education will submit the final implementation plan in March. DEA is planning to educate and engage members around the state plan via social media, newsletters and local meetings, and ensure they have every opportunity to lend their voice to this conversation.


ESSA Discussion at Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs Annual Conference in Miami

Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of United Teachers of Dade (UTD) in Florida, made a presentation regarding the implementation of ESSA at the Annual Conference of the Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs (BHCC) in Miami, Florida.

The BHCC is a national non-partisan organization comprised of the elected Latino officials serving as the chairs and vice chairs of their respective state Hispanic legislative caucuses as well as other Latinos serving in leadership positions. The conference brings together Hispanic state legislative leaders, policymakers, and other community leaders from government, business, law, education and other areas.

At the conference, Hernandez-Mats facilitated the Education Work Committee discussion that included the following highlights:

  • State legislators from nine states who serve on the BHCC education committee proposed to do a Facebook Tele-Town Hall with NEA in spring. The event would advocate for policies that support public schools. The legislators also requested to work with NEA on other social media campaigns involving students, families and educators in their states.
  • It was proposed that NEA and BHCC host a pro-public education event in Arizona, Colorado, or Michigan in spring. Also, that both organizations host an education panel at NEA headquarters during National Hispanic Heritage Month, the period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States when people recognize the contributions of Hispanics to the nation’s heritage and culture.
  • Model legislation from NEA around ESSA and the prevention of charter school takeovers was requested from 37 Latino state legislators serving in more than 20 states.

For more about BHCC and the conference visit:

For more about United Teachers of Dade visit:




Hawaii’s Blueprint for Education

Very few states have seen the level of educator engagement on ESSA that has been occurring in Hawaii. Aloha state educators know this is their opportunity to add their voice to this conversation if ESSA implementation to advocate on behalf of their students and their profession.

In 2016, Gov. David Ige assembled an ESSA task force, made up of educators, lawmakers, parents and members of the private sector, charged with creating a “blueprint for education” to implement the law in the state. After an initial version was completed in late 2016, the task force took the design ideas back out to the community for further discussion, feedback and elaboration.

Prior to the passage of ESSA, members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) were already mobilizing around “Schools Our Keiki Deserve,” an evidence-based report by the HSTA Speakers Bureau used to guide public policy decisions around public education. HSTA member Amy Perruso, a nationally recognized social studies teacher and member of the ESSA taskforce, created the Speakers Bureau to organize the community in support of public schools, which had proved invaluable during the ESSA implementation process. The Speakers Bureau has been incredibly active in the ESSA town halls and other opportunities for community engagement that have been occurring in multiple locations on every island across the state.

“We are building not only a movement around the ‘Schools Our Keiki Deserve’ via ESSA organizing,” explains Amy Perruso, “but also school-based leadership familiar with the language and possibilities of ESSA that will help us as we move into implementation.”

Blueprint for Education


New Member Growth Tied to ESSA Implementation Advocacy

Despite membership falling below 60 percent, officials with the Fort Wayne Education Association (FWEA) rallied members around the implementation of ESSA and consequently recruited approximately 100 new members last fall. Fort Wayne members weighed in on their priorities for implementing the federal law while working with the superintendent, school board and other community members. During the ESSA advocacy campaign, FWEA leaders also boosted FWEA committee participation.



Report Produced By State Association May Prove Game-Changer

Last fall, members of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) convened 750 educators, parents, young people, and community advocates from nine communities statewide.

The objective:

  • Create open conversations among diverse community members.
  • Enhance collaboration, mutual support and common ground.
  • Build a holistic vision of the services and supports children need.
  • Consider next steps for ensuring a better future for Louisiana youth.

The result:

A community conversation guide and report titled, Ensuring a Better Future for Louisiana’s Children.

Parental involvement, building community relationships, rating school quality, school funding, and resource equity were several issues and concerns documented in the report. Teacher preparation, test reduction, and improving struggling schools were also identified.

“Louisiana is home to pockets of significant wealth alongside poverty and instability. The differences between these two worlds exist most significantly within our public school classrooms,” according to the report. Association leaders plan to use the report’s findings to achieve greater buy-in for ESSA implementation measures across the state.



ESSA Campaign Sparks New Advocacy Among Member Base

The ESSA implementation campaign led by the Lyon County Education Association (LCEA) typifies how local Associations can help to shape the specifics of the new law, particularly in such areas as student equity, teacher evaluation, standardized testing, and how to fix low-performing schools.

With regard to testing, LCEA and members of the Time to Learn Committee of the National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA) visited 15 and conducted 170 one-on-one interviews to learn more about testing challenges facing educators. Initial survey results identify redundant or unnecessary testing at all grade levels. Also, that counselors spend over 50 percent of their time during the school year prepping and proctoring tests.

The site visits were in most cases the first time that non-members had been invited to join LCEA. As a result, 37 new members joined LCEA and 17 follow-up interviews were scheduled.


New Mexico

In New Mexico, the state chapter of PTA and NEA New Mexico have been working together to bring parents into the process, and to learn from each other as well. Learn more. >>


ESSA Webinar: The Gamechanger for Parents and Educators
New Mexico: December 13, 2016

NEA and the National PTA discussed implementation of the law at the state and local level and the opportunities that educators and families have to become involved. The event featured National Education Association – New Mexico and the New Mexico PTA. Register and view the webinar.



Using ESSA to Support Inclusion

Educators in Ohio recently got a firsthand look at how ESSA can help create a more inclusive classroom that meets the needs of all students, regardless of race, religion, culture or socio-economic background. In December, the Sylvania Education Association (SEA) conducted a cultural competency training of 80 educators, using ESSA as a framework to support effective instruction. This training included principals, administrators, support professionals and parents. As a result of this training, SEA partnered with Sylvania Schools to embrace and support inclusion in their city.  SEA, with the support of the school district and community partners, coordinated the One Sylvania: Rally for Refugees on February 1.  More than 1,300 people came together to listen, learn and show their support for members of the community. Over the course of this year, SEA has used ESSA as an impetus to reach out and include the community in crafting an inclusive curriculum for Sylvania schools.

“The training made me think about the things that really matter, not test scores or evaluations, but what students need and how as educators we play a critical role in creating those experiences,” said SEA President Dan Greenberg. “Being a part of a school community that values learning and prioritizes meeting the needs of all students is really amazing.”



Collaborating for a Successful, Student-Centered ESSA
Webinar: October 17, 2016

Learn about ESSA successes and lessons learned in Oklahoma. Register and view the webinar




South Carolina

South Carolina Local Association Spotlights ESSA’s Impact on students, educators, classrooms at Town Hall

On Feb. 6, the Beaufort County Education Association (BCEA) hosted a town-hall event in Beaufort County, South Carolina, parents, educators and other community members gathered to discuss how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives them a voice to change the direction of public education in their state. Participants heard an overview about ESSA from BCEA member and high school Chemistry teacher, Dawn Peebles. The event showcased how ESSA – if it’s implemented successfully – provides educators the opportunity to advocate for reductions in high-stakes testing, but most importantly how this new law can be used to help close the achievement gap for students in the state.

The South Carolina Education Association, which has hosted five ESSA-related town-halls across the state, is supporting a proposal by the S.C. Education Oversight Committee, an independent, nonpartisan group made up of educators, business people, and elected officials, to reduce testing by alternating when, and what subjects will be tested. The proposal was discussed at the town-hall, and was presented as just one of the many opportunities for educators and parents alike to take a seat at the table and influence multiple policy decisions around ESSA.

Local news coverage of the ESSA town hall.



Educators Meet to Discuss ESSA Opportunities and Challenges

ESSA’s implementation remains a work in progress at both the federal and state levels. To examine and discuss the wide range of efforts now underway, Virginia Education Association (VEA) affiliates in Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York, Williamsburg, and Gloucester, along with the Hampton University student chapter, organized an ESSA public forum last November attended by 50 participants, including the superintendent of Hampton City Schools, school board members from each participating local, and officials with the Virginia Department of Education.

Attendees conveyed to education department attendees how ESSA impacts their classroom and other duties. Participants were encouraged to join NEA online ESSA groups on