Chiefs for Change statement on the release of ESSA regulations

Chiefs for Change
May 26, 2016

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reflects many of the key priorities of Chiefs for Change, and we are firmly committed to its successful implementation. Chiefs for Change is a network of bipartisan state and district education Chiefs dedicated to preparing all students for today’s world and tomorrow’s. We want our members to be equipped to lead the 2.8 million students, 176,000 teachers, and 5,000 schools in their states and districts to success in the age of ESSA.

We commend the U.S. Department of Education for working quickly to produce comprehensive proposed regulations that prioritize civil rights and equity for all students. The timeliness and efficiency of this process will aid states as they prepare to implement the new law. Our members look forward to reviewing the regulations in full and working closely with one another as they move forward with ESSA implementation.

ESSA empowers Chiefs to take on this work at the state and local levels. We believe the law will strengthen local accountability to a degree that No Child Left Behind could not. We enthusiastically support ESSA’s focus on ensuring more flexibility, providing choices for children in struggling schools, and maintaining provisions to help ensure no student falls through the cracks.

The federal government must strike a crucial balance, providing the flexibility state and local leaders need to be successful to adapt ESSA policy goals to conditions “on the ground,” while also providing the oversight and direction needed to ensure that the educational needs of all children are adequately addressed throughout the nation. We recognize that this balancing act will not be easy, but we trust that it can be achieved through a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Education and the entire education community.

Robust stakeholder engagement, particularly with parents and with teachers, will be essential to our collective success. With the input of their communities, state and local leaders will design new accountability systems that leverage the expanded flexibility provided under ESSA to provide meaningful identification of schools in need of support and to develop evidence-based interventions designed to improve student outcomes.

Chiefs for Change believes that ESSA signals a new era for local, state, and federal efforts to improve educational achievement for all students. We realize that along with the greater flexibility granted to states under this bill comes more responsibility for states to get this right. Our members look forward to working with the Department and with one another to advance equity and outcomes for all students.