School Diversity Potential in the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the latest reauthorization of the country’s premier K-12 education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Under ESSA, state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), and individual schools assume significant new responsibilities with regard to academic accountability and improving student performance.

BriefNo6_coverIn cooperation with the students, parents, and communities they serve, ESSA authorizes SEAs, LEAs, and schools to develop evidence-based academic interventions to turn around persistently low performing schools using Title I funds.

This new state and local authority is an opportunity for proponents of school diversity to advocate for the inclusion of racial and socioeconomic integration as one method of evidence-based school improvement strategies.

Our policy brief, Prioritizing School Integration in ESSA State Implementation Plans, explains how the new federal education law can be used to create and support diverse, equitable, excellent public schools for all students. There are additional materials listed below.

In 2017, states submitted their ESSA plans to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for peer review. Education Week has created a map to help keep track of which state ESSA plans have been approved. Following the USDOE’s approval of state plans, state educational agencies will work with districts to establish timelines and criteria for district turnaround plans.





New York State’s ESSA plan provides an excellent example of how state and local flexibility can be used to promote school diversity. As a result of school diversity advocacy at the state and local level, the New York State Education Department not only elected to include the promotion of diverse schools as an evidence-based school turnaround intervention for schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement, but stated more broadly that the State would use ESSA flexibility to “mutually support the development and adoption of policies and programs that promote the values of socioeconomic, racial, cultural, and other kinds of diversity.” See materials regarding New York’s ESSA plan below.

Related News & Media