Editorial: every student succeeds

At the end of 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed with little awareness. The successor of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), the new law is supposed to preserve the concept of NCLBA, but makes improvements on it after decades of its inability to allow success to our education system. Essentially, it was designed to help focus on the disadvantaged students who were left behind in the education system, but led to wider achievement gaps between minority and poor students in failing school systems. The NCLBA introduced support for standardized testing and federal control.
The ESSA was introduced by President Obama earlier in his presidency. He slowluyimplemented aspects of it until now, where the entirety of the law is in effect. The main purpose of the ESSA is to decrease the dependency on standardized tests, allow schools to have more flexibility within their own curriculum, maintain school accountability for their students and increase education at an early age. Essentially, the ESSA allows states to focus their resources more appropriately for their schools versus a rigid structure mandated by the federal government. Schools are in charge of setting up the standardized tests and score minimums as well as graduation requirements and goals.

Nationally, common core will not be mandatory, but if a state wishes to make it mandatory, it is allowed to do so. President Obama primarily hopes that each state will make its curriculum increasingly college preparatory for students in hopes to prepare them for their secondary education. In hopes to increase the amount of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)  students and teachers, President Obama wants the ESSA to raise the standards of K-12 education. Part of  the ESSA is to divert more funding to early childhood education in order to prepare students for these expectations.

ESSA provides a hypothetical plan for the future of America’s education system. Even though the pressure for standardized tests will be decreased, schools will still have to implement them. The difference is that schools decide what they do with the lowest scores. The problem with the little inconsistencies of this process is that schools can lower their standards in order to raise graduation rates. According to the New York Times, South Carolina’s graduation rate increased to 81% from the previous 65%, however only about one tenth of the students were college ready and one in 14 were college math ready.  Nationally, graduation rates are rising but only 40% demonstrate the skills they need to succeed in college. The ESSA is a step in the right direction, but its responsibility will really only be to clean up the mess the NCLBA left behind.

The recency and silence on this education reform is what brings the majority of concerns. Most have not heard or seen anything on the day to day media to inform them about the ESSA. Overall, the education system is not perfect and will not be for a long time. The ESSA is not a cure all for the NCLBA or the education system dysfunction. Change and progress is slow and it will take a long time to set up the wanted and most effective education system that benefits the nation’s system.