NEA Parents' Resources

The Future Is ESSA

Meet the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA, for short. It has the power to change the way your children experience education.

ESSA is replacing the 14-year-old No Child Left Behind Act that was focused on standardized testing. Unlike the former law, ESSA will do more to accurately measure the quality of a school.

With the new law, states can rely on more than just math and reading test scores when determining a school’s success. They can look at things like robust arts and athletics programs; full-time counselors, nurses and librarians; strong parent and family engagement programs; and rigorous AP classes and engaging electives.

ESSA ensures that every student will have access to a high-quality education regardless of his or her zip code. It also introduces provisions to greatly improve schools, like school safety initiatives including anti-bullying and anti-harassment programs. It will also incorporate support programs with greater transparency in communicating with parents and families about their child’s progress in school and in the community.

The new law puts decision-making back into the hands of parents, local educators and their communities. As a parent, you know how important it is for your child to have access to a good education. You have the power to help shape the way ESSA will impact your child, so take your seat at the table and get involved in advocating for the new law.

Some Ways You Can Help

  • Ask the difficult questions. Things like “What makes a great public school?” and “What resources, policies and practices do we need to implement to achieve a great public school?” These are key questions for ESSA implementation. Asking the tough questions will pave the way for important discussions about what parents and educators are looking to see from the new law.
  • Engage in a productive dialogue. Talk about ESSA with educators, community activists and fellow parents. Stakeholder engagement in the new law is crucial for its success. Being open and honest about what the expectations for ESSA are from the beginning will set the stage for the planning process.
  • Be a part of the collaborative planning process. Work with your community to develop an ESSA game plan. The success of ESSA is reliant upon the support of its stakeholders. Therefore, involvement in initial planning through implementation will be key for the success of the new law. Parents can be a critical part of the game plan to brainstorm plans for ESSA, like building an accountability plan that shows a full picture of progress, deciding elements of report cards or work on school improvement plans.
  • Speak up about what your school needs. Do educators and students need to have an effective school? Does your child’s school have a healthy school climate, a well-rounded curriculum, quality educators and a welcoming community? Evaluate what your school still needs with our school checklist.

Is your child getting the best possible education? Now is the time to speak up and make your voice heard. ESSA has the power to make a positive, lasting impact on education in our country, but we need your help to make it happen. Reach out to local policymakers and educators today to be part of the conversation and advocate for your child’s education.

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