Equity and ESSA: leveraging educational opportunity through the Every Student Succeeds Act

Author(s): Lam, Livia; Darling-Hammond, Linda; Roc, Martens; Mercer, Charmaine; Cook-Harvey, Channa M.

Organisation(s): Learning Policy Institute (USA)

Date: 2016

Pages: 26 p.


Despite the American promise of equal educational opportunity for all students, persistent achievement gaps among more and less advantaged groups of students remain, along with the opportunity gaps that create disparate outcomes. However, the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) represents an opportunity for the federal government, states, districts, and schools to equitably design education systems to ensure that the students who have historically been underserved by these same education systems receive an education that prepares them for the demands of the 21st century. ESSA contains a number of new provisions that can be used to advance equity and excellence throughout our nation’s schools for students of color, low-income students, English learners, students with disabilities, and those who are homeless or in foster care. This report reviews these provisions in four major areas: (1) access to learning opportunities focused on higher-order thinking skills; (2) multiple measures of equity; (3) resource equity; and (4) evidence-based interventions. Each of the provisions can be leveraged by policymakers, educators, researchers, and advocates to advance equity in education for all students.

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