What ESSA Means for Teacher Effectiveness

USDOEAs this blog reported, the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act was signed into law on December 10, 2015. The new law, deemed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is good for the next four years. SY2016-17 is a transition year, and the law will be in full effect in SY2017-18. We have previously provided an overview of the provisions of this law, but what changes will impact teacher effectiveness?

The first big piece of news is that there are no regulations around teacher evaluations; this will be left entirely to states. Also removed from regulation is the highly qualified teacher provision.

Title II of ESSA allows for the continued used of funds for  class-size reductions, but only “to evidence-based levels.”

The teacher equity requirement is maintained, and states are required to describe how they make sure low-income and minority children “are not served at disproportionate rates by ineffective, out-of-field, and inexperienced teachers.”

Teacher preparation has some major changes. Under Title II of the new law, states are allowed to, but they are not required to) allocate up to 2% of their Title II funds (which comes out to roughly $46,000,000 nationally) for teacher preparation academies, which are alternative preparation, residency-based programs. These teacher preparation programs could operate apart from states’ usual rules and regulations for teacher preparation (bypassing program approval, and exempting them from course credit requirements and transcript review requirements), but their students would be eligible for federal financial aid. The programs would have rigorous selection criteria and would only be able to graduate teachers found to be effective at boosting student achievement. States are allowed under the law to recognize the certificate of completion of an academy program as the equivalent of a Master’s degree in education for the purpose of hiring, retention, compensation, and promotion in the state.


Several funding streams are also slated to support teacher effectiveness. Please note that funding amounts will not be finalized until Congress passes the budget each year.

Selected grants include the following:

Teacher Quality State Grants. $2,295,830,000 for each year, FY 17 through FY 20

Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program (this is the updated Teacher Incentive Fund). $230,221,000 for FY 17 and FY 18; $230,361,000 for FY 19; $229,909,000 for FY 20

Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED). $53,000,000 per year, FY 17 through FY 20

STEM Master Teacher Corps. $1,500,000 per year, FY17 through FY20

Education Innovation and Research (this is the updated Investing in Innovation program). $70,467,000  in FY 17 and FY 18; $90,611,000 in FY 19 and FY 20.

For more information on authorized programs, see http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/Programs%20Authorized%20in%20the%20Conference%20Agreement%20on%20S%20%201177v2.pdf