The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015. ESSA will replace the No Child Left Behind Act. States are expected to submit an implementation plan to the United States Department of Education (USDE) by August 2016. ESSA offers improved flexibility for states to develop their own student performance targets and school ratings.

Pennsylvania is focusing on a few key issue areas that states are required to address in their plans for the USDE:

  • Accountability: Pennsylvania is now responsible for setting their own goals and must address proficiency on tests, English language and graduation rates. PDE must determine what criteria are best and how this will be reflected in their development of revisions of the School Performance Profile (SPP).
  • Standards and Assessment: PDE will be reviewing Pennsylvania’s assessment system and specifically focusing on when tests are administered, testing times and lengths and testing schedules. ESSA requires assessments to challenge academic standards.
  • School Intervention and Improvement: Under ESSA, Pennsylvania can establish objectives and measures for performance and progress of low-performing school. PDE is responsible for identifying methods to intervene and help low-performing schools as a part of their accountability systems.
  • Educator Evaluation: Pennsylvania has the freedom to design their own evaluation system for teachers without federal oversight. However, there is a state-level requirement, Act 82 of 2012, that ties educator evaluations to students’ performance on standardized tests. PDE is opening a discussion with lawmakers to discuss modifying act 82.