ESSA stands for the Every Student Succeeds Act, a new bill signed in last month by President Obama. ESSA is basically a renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and seeks to fix many of the issues found in NCLB (No Child Left Behind).
In short, ESSA gives the states more power over how to teach our students. Basic changes include:
- The number of tests and the grades tested remains the same, but states now have the flexibility in how and when they administer those tests.
- Common Core is no longer required by states.
- Accountability goals are now almost entirely up to the states.
- “Failing” schools have more choices regarding interventions for improvement.
“Specialized instructional support personnel” in ESSA now includes school librarians! This means local educational agencies (LEAs) must develop plans to implement federal education activities including:
- Effective school library programs to provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy skills and improve academic achievement and the funds to support them.
- Time for school librarians to meet to plan comprehensive literacy instruction.
- Presidential and Congressional Academies for libraries with demonstrated expertise in historical methodology or the teaching of American history and civics.
- Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants to help states and school districts access the internet and school libraries.
- Technology professional development for librarians.
- Grants to support expanded library service hours.