ED Releases Final Rules on ESSA Accountability, Data Reporting, and State Plans

December 9, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released final regulations to implement the accountability, data reporting, and state plan provisions for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The regulations focus on supporting states by using their flexibility to provide a high-quality, well-rounded education and to ensure that equity remains at the core of implementation. The incoming Trump Administration has indicated that it may rescind all recently released ESSA regulations; however, until such time, the requirements of these regulations must be adhered to effective January 1, 2017.

As part of the regulations, ED reinforces ESSA's strong commitment to transparency and emphasizes meaningful engagement and an active role for parents, educators, students, civil rights and community groups, and other stakeholders—including specialized instructional support personnel (SISP)—in implementing the new law. ASHA advocated for the inclusion of SISP, specifically among stakeholders, and emphasized that states must meaningfully consult and engage with SISP through the design and implementation of accountability and support systems/structures. SISP is reflected in a number of provisions throughout the rules, and where it is not specifically listed, states have the flexibility to include this category of professionals, which includes audiologists and speech-language pathologists. 

Impact on ASHA Members

Currently, ASHA is reviewing the final ED rules to determine the impact on ASHA members. Some highlights are detailed below.

Accountability. Give states flexibility to incorporate new measures of school quality or student success into accountability systems while maintaining the core expectation that states, districts, and schools will work to improve academic outcomes for all students, including individual subgroups. States will, among other things,

  • set their own ambitious goals and measurements of interim progress for academic outcomes and
  • choose their own indicators of academic progress and school quality, or student success, that are supported by research; doing so indicates that high performance or progress on these indicators is likely to increase student learning. In the case of high schools, high performance of progress on these indicators will likely lead to an increase in graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, persistence, completion, and/or career success.

School support and improvement. Require meaningful action in cases where whole schools or groups of students within schools are struggling, but allow states to work with stakeholders to choose locally designed, evidence-based strategies to fit a school’s unique circumstances. Under the final regulations, states must do the following:

  • Recognize the critical role of stakeholders—including parents, students, educators, principals, and other school leaders—in developing and implementing school improvement activities.
  • Identify resource inequities related to per-pupil expenditures as way of supporting school improvement; access to advanced coursework; access to ineffective, out-of-field, or inexperienced teachers; access to SISP; and, in elementary schools, access to full-day kindergarten and preschool programs.

Consolidated state plans. Give states the flexibility to think holistically about how to improve outcomes for all students while helping to ensure access to a well-rounded education. The regulations require each state to engage in timely and meaningful consultation with an array of stakeholders, including SISP, and to promote better coordination across Elementary and Secondary Education Act formula grant programs to improve student outcomes and to close achievement gaps while reducing the burden and logistical complexity on states. The regulations require, among other things, broad, robust, and transparent consultation with a diverse, representative group of stakeholders.


The final regulations will replace the rigid and prescriptive systems that defined No Child Left Behind requirements with greater flexibility for states and districts, a more holistic approach to measuring a quality education that will help prepare all students for success in college and careers, and strong protections to ensure that academic progress and equity for all students matter. 

ESSA, signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015, reauthorized the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation's national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. The new law (ESSA) provides greater flexibility to state and local governments when implementing programs and ensures that all students are prepared for college and careers. 


For more information, see the Federal Register [PDF] (November 29, 2016) notice on the final regulations, or contact Catherine D. Clarke, ASHA's director of education and regulatory advocacy, at cclarke@asha.org or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 5611.

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