ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)

ESSA Implementation and Online Resources

NAEA continues to carefully monitor the implementation and appropriations process for the Every Student Succeeds Act; signed into law in December 2015, implementation begins with the 2017-2018 school year. 

Much of the activity since passage of ESSA in December 2015 has been both national and state-level efforts to further understand the provisions of the legislation, in an effort to develop guidance for state and local planning to implement the legislation next year. The U.S. Department of Education has just issued the following two related guidance documents - one for Title IV Part A Well-Rounded Education; and one for Early Childhood guidance. They are also listed below under Additional Resources or here.

NAEA is playing a leadership role through service on the ESSA Working Group of the Arts Education Partnership which is bringing together leaders across the arts education associations to develop collective resources. In addition, the Education Commission of the States (the parent organization of the Arts Education Partnership) has issued the following ESSA Issues Briefs, also available at

ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts: This special report highlights the ways that states and districts can engage the arts in the ongoing work of ESSA.

ESSA’s Well-Rounded Education: This report reviews the components of ESSA’s prevalent “well-rounded education” concept and potential ways that states can support educational access for every student under this new law.

ESSA: Quick Guides on Top Issues: This report provides insight into 10 key areas of ESSA that have prompted questions and concerns from education leaders and policymakers as they prepare to implement this new law.

Collaborative Stakeholder Engagement: This report offers a framework for going beyond simply engaging stakeholders for input when creating a state plan for ESSA to collaborating with them to create shared goals and improved results.

Tiers of Evidence: ESSA builds on NCLB’s legacy of supporting effective programs by requiring that programs and strategies be evidence-based. However, the definition of evidence-based has significantly expanded from the limited scientifically based research in the earlier law. Rather than the two acceptable research designs allowed under NCLB, ESSA provides four tiers divided into two categories.

Additional Resources:

NAEA is part of the group of leadership organizations who worked with the Arts Education Partnership to issue “ESSA Mapping the Opportunities for the Arts”. This Issues Brief is focused most on Title I; a series of these Issues Briefs will be issued by the ESSA Working Group – we are hoping that the next one will focus on Title IV Part A (Well-Rounded, which also cites support for the arts and STEM, school/community/higher education/nonprofit partnerships) which is new with ESSA and which we believe will provide many opportunities for the arts once the law is in place and funding is appropriated.

There is no one set of “next steps” for supporting the arts within ESSA which applies to NAEA members in every state. Some states are convening more open forums for determining their state plans, while others are handling their ESSA “next steps” more discretely. 

If you are interested in getting involved with the plans for ESSA, and supporting ways that the arts can be included in your state plan, NAEA encourages you to contact your state department of education fine arts specialist and/or ESSA contact identified by your state department of education. Ask -

  • if and how your state is involving community stakeholders in the planning process and needs assessment required by the legislation;
  • how the arts and arts and STEM initiatives are part of the state ESSA plan;
  • if your state department of education ESSA team is aware of the many ways in which other communities have used Title I funds to support arts learning

ECS was created by states for states in 1965 to track policy, translate research, provide unbiased advice and create opportunities for state education policymakers to learn from each other. Education Commission of the States’ policy team conducts research, delivers reports and provides expert counsel on the full spectrum of education policy issues – from early learning through postsecondary and workforce readiness. To assist state education leaders and policymakers, Education Commission of the States is creating resources and providing assistance related to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The Arts Education Partnership is dedicated to advancing the arts in education through research, policy and practice towards a time where every student in America succeeds in school, work and life as a result of a high quality education in and through the arts. A national coalition of more than 100 education, arts, business, cultural, government, and philanthropic organizations, AEP was established in 1995 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA).

NAEA works collaboratively with all of the arts education professional associations and national arts associations engaged with monitoring arts and education policy and federal appropriations for arts education.