The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is designed to establish rules and guidelines that help provide all students with an adequate education. The Every Student Succeeds Act was enacted in late 2015. ESSA essentially replaces the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which had been in effect since 1965. Since 2011, the reauthorization of ESEA was stalled, in part due to complications with the details of incorporation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was signed into law in 2002.

Changes to Rules

ESEA is supposed to clarify the rules and assist in providing schools with a better understanding of compliance. In the past, schools may have had difficulty attaining the goals of the ESEA program, thus putting them in a difficult position. Some states, including Arizona, were issued waivers to the NCLB starting in 2011, to ease some of the penalties for failing to meet the stringent requirements. ESEA places less emphasis on standard test results, and general academic standards were changed. The Every Student Succeeds Act resolves some of these issues that have been problematic for schools.

Negotiated Rulemaking

Every Student Succeeds Act rulemaking sessions have been ongoing. Recently, a committee that consisted of teachers, state legislators, and others met to review and assess parts of the ESSA. Federal officials then added legal information. The Every Student Succeeds Act is now being completed, and will include assistance for states to interpret the new laws. Once the process is complete, there will be an implementation timeline during which states must become compliant.


There is a timeline in place for decision-making and implementation of ESSA.  . Some of the rules are still in the development stages. The final rulemaking and state processes will be done throughout the 2016 – 2017 school year. The final ESSA compliance and accountability plans are to be in place for all schools for the 2017 – 2018 school year.

Moving Forward with ESSA

ESSA will be in place soon. This means that school administrators and teachers must prepare for the new rules. A new assessment system will need to be put into place that aligns with the new guidelines. Waivers must be revisited and new accountability methods will have to be put into place. Everyone involved needs to stay up to date on the latest developments, and make sure they properly prepare for the implementation. Since ESSA is still being finalized, there may be some changes and further instructions will be available once ESSA is completely ready to go.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Every Student Succeeds Act,  or any other education law matters, please feel free to contact our Education Law section at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.