Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is Iowa’s new system for school accountability and support. It was created with broad public input and reflects statewide education efforts already underway. This statewide system meets federal requirements outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), but fits Iowa’s context.

ESSA, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, maintains a focus on school accountability and equity for all students but shifts decision-making back to states and local school districts. Iowa’s system for accountability and support focuses attention and resources to schools that need it most.

Accountability Determinations/School Identification

ESSA requires states to identify schools that need the most support, for the purposes of ensuring students have the same opportunities for success that exist for students in other schools.

The state will identify schools for support and improvement every three years based on their performance on the following measures:

  • Student participation on state assessments, academic achievement (proficiency and average scale score), student growth, graduation rate, progress in achieving English language proficiency, and a student survey of safety and engagement (Conditions for Learning).

Each school receives an overall score based on performance on these measures. Schools also receive a score for each subgroup of students, such as students with disabilities (subgroups must have 20 or more students to receive a score). A school will be identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement if its overall score falls within the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools in the state or its graduation rate falls below 67.1 percent. A school will be identified for Targeted Support and Improvement if a student subgroup score is as low as the lowest 5 percent of schools in the state.

Comprehensive Schools

  • Iowa is identifying five percent of schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement.
  • Comprehensive schools are either high schools that graduate fewer than 67.1 percent of students or schools that are in the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools in Iowa based on performance on accountability measures.
  • Generally, these schools need assistance and support based on the performance of the entire student population.
  • Schools exit Comprehensive status when they have demonstrated consistent improvement at the end of three years.

Targeted Schools

  • Iowa is identifying any public school with an underperforming subgroup of students for Targeted Support and Improvement.
  • This means schools that have one or more subgroup of students performing as low as the lowest 5 percent of schools in the state.
  • Performance is considered for the following subgroups: Low-income students (based on eligibility for free or reduced-price meals), English learners, students with disabilities and students by racial/ethnic group (white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and multi-racial).
  • Schools exit Targeted status when they have demonstrated consistent improvement at the end of three years.

Support for Comprehensive & Targeted Schools

  • Comprehensive and Targeted schools receive federal funding and support through the state’s Differentiated Accountability system. Schools are responsible for developing improvement plans with local stakeholders.
  • State support includes assistance in identifying causes of performance issues, strategies, and interventions to put in place, and an evaluation of what’s working. This is a continuous improvement model.
  • Improvement plans will be tailored to meet the individual needs of schools.