School Accountability in First-Round ESSA State Plans

Part of a Series on Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act

    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is the primary legislation related to federal K-12 education programs. ESSA replaces many provisions contained in the previous reauthorization—the No Child Left Behind Act—to give states more authority in the design of their school accountability systems and to encourage them to use measures beyond test scores to measure school performance. States, districts, and schools also have greater autonomy to design and implement school improvement strategies for struggling schools.

    The law, however, continues to require states and districts to track and respond to low performance of schools and subgroups of students within schools. They must also be able to disaggregate the data they use to determine interventions by race and ethnicity, disability status, English language learners, and income. These critical protections ensure that all students—including the most disadvantaged—cannot be ignored.

    Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., submitted their ESSA plans—which cover multiple provisions of the law—to the U.S. Department of Education for review during the first submission window. The Center for American Progress reviewed these submissions for their school classification systems and school improvement plans. The summary provides critical context and methodology. The 17 individual state fact sheets break down each state’s school classification system in addition to school improvement timeline, grant structure, types of schools identified, and key improvement strategies.

    Laura Jimenez is the director of standards and accountability at the Center for American Progress. Samantha Batel is a policy analyst with the K-12 Education team at the Center.