ESEA Legislation Overview

Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, formerly No Child Left Behind) with President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law in December 2015. ESSA authorizes the principle funding stream supporting afterschool and summer learning programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.

The Every Student Succeeds Act:

We now have a map of your state linking to the page with any available draft plan - if it needs to be updated, let us know. States that have submitted plans for the April 3rd deadline are listed here.

For the first time since 2002 there is a new education law of the land and with change comes opportunity. Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015, reauthorizing the nation’s largest education law 8 years overdue, with many much needed updates and revisions.

  • At the federal level, within the Department of Education the law is being clarified through regulations and guidance in ways that allow the new provisions to be practically translated into practice.
  • At the state level, states are creating new plans (found on state ESSA webpages) with the help of a broad, diverse group of stakeholders including parents, students, teachers, statewide afterschool networks and many others to define how best to support students and schools.

Afterschool has a big role to play:

Afterschool Advocates can set the stage now for increasing student access to quality afterschool programs. Some ways states are doing this are by:

  • asking schools to report on how many students participate in afterschool and extra-curricular activities,
  • making sure principals and superintendents are aware of the strong research connecting afterschool with school day student engagement, behavior, attendance and academic performance,
  • securing joint training opportunities for afterschool and school day teachers and connecting school day teachers with hands on learning experiences including fields like Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (known as STEM) in afterschool settings,
  • using afterschool and summer programming as supports that help struggling students build connections whether they be homeless or migrant students, students making the challenging transition between middle and high school, or other students in need
  • and other creative ways

Where to start:

The Afterschool Alliance has an ESSA Toolkit for Advocates page that provides fact sheets, talking points, PowerPoints, background materials, infographics and other aids to help advocates inform themselves and others of the important role afterschool can and should play in student success.It also includes a list of afterschool friendly language in state plans across Titles and plan subject areas.

State Activity/Examples:

  • Kentucky: Look at Kentucky’s Draft Accountability System (pg 12) which includes a student’s exposure to essential skills and lists co or extra-curricular activities as one method.
  • Oregon: Visit Oregon’s Draft Plan (pg. 8) to see how they plan to use extended learning opportunities to track indicators of student success.
  • Tennessee: Tennessee’s Draft Plan (pg. 63 of PDF) has schools report on the percentage of students involved in at least one extra-curricular activity.

We also have a map of your state linking to the page with any available draft plan. And learn on what deadline April or September your state plans to submit here.

Learn More:

The ESSA law has 10 Titles (sections), three of which are very important for afterschool:

  • Title I – Includes school accountability and interventions (like afterschool) to help support students. Each state is now determining how schools will be held accountable (i.e., how to measure a good school) and local districts with community input will be expected to determine what supports they need to be successful. Find your state's Title I coordinator here
  • Title II – Includes teacher professional development including ways where school day and afterschool teachers can work and be trained in coordination.
  • Title IV – Includes two important parts:
    • Title IV A has funding for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants which can be used to support afterschol STEM and Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA).
    • Title IV B funds the 21st Century Community Learning Centers – the largest federal funding stream for afterschool, before school and summer programs.

Additional Resources:

The Afterschool Alliance:

Other Resources:

Below is a list of links to other resources and organizations working on ESSA. Where the word "state" is bolded, you can find information specific to individual state plans.




Department of ED

State Map of plans approved with links to  feedback

Department of ED

ESSA Resources Website - main

Legislative Comparison of NCLB/ESSA Changes

From Alabama Department of ED- Legislative Comparison of ESSA/NCLB

Education Commission of the States (ECS)

ESSA Quick Guide on changes from NCLB

Collaborative for Student Success

Map with state plan updates and links to latest ESSA news in each state

CCSSO Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA
Center for American Progress State by state fact sheets on accountability portions of plan
Evidence for ESSA Provides programs and practices that meet ESSA evidence standards

Learning First Alliance

Stakeholder engagement provisions in ESSA


Parent Teacher Association – ESSA Roadmap


Independent reviews of state ESSA plans submitted by 1st deadline

SHAPE America

Society of Health and Physical Educators -Really thorough ESSA toolkit for advocacy and education with state pages

Cairn Summaries

Social emotional, physical and mental health. Includes “Reasons to Cheer” – and goes through each section of state plan in easy to read format

Knowledge Works

Personalized Learning with state plan summaries

Center for Standards and Assessments Implementation

Links to state plans and key documents from state decision process; links to map of state standards including NGSS; also neat research links like state grad rates, AP, charter enrollment, teacher salary

Alliance for Excellence in Education

State Equity Dashboards – color codes plans in reference to helping and monitoring all students and interventions with schools within a state plan

National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)

5th Indicator series- looks at state plans in areas of CTE, School Climate and Student Discipline, Social and Emotional Learning, Chronic Absenteeism and Access to High Level Coursework

American Institutes for Research (AIR)

ESSA Co-pilot page and What Policy Makers Need to Know Page; Includes “Reflections on State ESSA” Plans document

ED First

Making the Most of Title II (Teacher Prep/Development)- state proposals

Learning Policy Institute

Information on Identifying Schools for Support and Intervention including Community Schools and Social and Emotional Learning

Aspen Institute and CCSSO

Equity in ESSA Think Piece

Council for Chief State School Officers

Ongoing ESSA related work

Results for America

Leverage points on Using Data and Evidence in ESSA

Chiefs for Change

Evidence Based Practices

National Task Force on Assessment Literacy

Describes a role for assessments in advancing equity in ESSA plans

Excellence in Ed

Playbook for A-F school accountability Under ESSA