Advancing Equity through ESSA: Strategies for State Leaders


By The Council of Chief State School Officers and The Aspen Education & Society Program


Publication 10/13/16

With the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have a new opportunity to lead on educational equity. Federal funding under ESSA can be a critical contributor to advancing the equity agenda. Whereas implementing prior federal policies has been characterized by bureaucratic oversight and a culture of compliance, ESSA offers a chance for states to be more creative and strategic in ensuring federal funding advances a state’s equity agenda – and not the other way around.

To help states use ESSA to close opportunity and achievement gaps, this document identifies eight equity priorities – closing funding gaps, improving low-performing schools, increasing access to effective teachers and leaders, supporting English learners, increasing access to advanced coursework, addressing disproportionate discipline practices, addressing students’ social-emotional learning needs, and improving access to high-quality instructional materials – and illustrates how states can use ESSA to improve equity in opportunities and outcomes.

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