President Signs ESSA

December 10th, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 into law. This landmark legislation—which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate—reauthorizes the long overdue Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB).

This new law brings needed improvements to K-12 education in the United States, provides greater responsibility to states to meet the needs of all students and acknowledges the essential role of family engagement to student achievement.

For years, PTAs and families have been advocating for a comprehensive, bipartisan reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB that includes robust family engagement provisions. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) contains a Statewide Family Engagement Centers program that will provide states and districts with the capacity to support effective implementation and enhancement of family engagement policies and initiatives. The law also includes improvements to Title I that will require districts to conduct family engagement activities that are proven to make a difference for students and schools. PTA remains committed to working with policymakers to embed evidence-based family engagement policies and practices in all aspects of a child’s educational continuum. 

Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) does not expect major shifts in Missouri’s current education policy as a result of ESSA. “The increased flexibility provides the chance to work together to do what we know works for children in our state,” said Commissioner Margie Vandeven. “Missouri is well-positioned to use the new legislation to improve opportunities for students and teachers.”

The act returns responsibility to the states in holding schools accountable and for helping school districts, educators and students find success in classrooms. ESSA outlines parameters for state accountability systems, but the act gives Missouri the flexibility to design an accountability system that best meets the needs of Missouri students.

The act maintains the current assessment requirements which the state carries out through the Missouri Assessment Program or MAP tests. It also reaffirms that states are in control of academic standards and assessments. ESSA will not affect the state’s review of the Missouri Learning Standards, which is expected to wrap up this spring.

ESSA ends the federal practice of prescribing specific reforms for educator evaluation and support systems. Missouri will move forward with its Missouri Educator Evaluation System. ESSA will allow Missouri to continue to use the Missouri Educator Standards and provide a model educator evaluation system for districts.

The Department states on its website that it will continue updating the public about the law as federal officials create new rules and regulations for implementing ESSA. The rulemaking process will take up to a year once the public starts to give its input.

For more information on Missouri’s Learning Standards, see DESE’s website:

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