Frequently Asked Questions
Click to view our
factsheet with an overview of local impacts of the new federal education law.
What is ESSA?
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a reauthorization of the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It replaces the prior reauthorization, most commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10, 2015, and had broad bipartisan support in Congress.
ESSA is a welcome change that provides states with more flexibility than NCLB. Hawai‘i is taking advantage of this flexibility by using our state’s Strategic Plan and the Governor's Blueprint for public education to guide preparation of the state’s ESSA plan for federal funding.
In 2016, the BOE and HIDOE conducted a statewide review to extend the Strategic Plan, last updated in 2012, to adjust our strategies to reach our goals. The joint Strategic Plan provides a blueprint for supporting success for every student in Hawai‘i and for our state’s future, and addresses priorities for all aspects of education — from student learning to teacher recruitment and quality to school facilities and infrastructure. The updated plan covering 2017-2020 was approved by the BOE on Dec. 6, 2016.
HIDOE anticipates submitting the state’s ESSA plan for funding to the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 18, 2017. The ESSA law requires full implementation of the federal requirements during the 2017-18 school year.
ESSA is one of the federal laws impacting public education in Hawai‘i. Others are the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (Title IX, Civil Rights Act), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, and the National School Lunch Act. Hawai‘i’s education budget is 14-percent funded by a variety of federal funds including ESSA.
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has the full text of the law and other resources posted here:
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When does ESSA begin?
ESSA is authorized for federal FY 2017-20, and requires full implementation in the 2017-18 school year. In the interim, USDOE will provide states with additional guidance, which HIDOE will use to inform the transition to the 2017-18 school year.
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What about Strive HI?
Strive HI Performance System is Hawaii's school accountability and improvement system. HIDOE began implementation of Strive HI in 2013, after receiving approval from USDOE for a waiver from NCLB. The components of Strive HI — the Strive HI Index, classifications for schools, and school improvement efforts — are well aligned with the new requirements in ESSA. The Department will take a fresh look at the Strive HI Performance System as part of the planning process for ESSA implementation.
As school year 2015-16 is a transition year to new ESSA requirements, Strive HI reports for that year show how schools and the state performed on its multiple performance measures, but neither index points nor classification step were assigned to schools. BACK TO TOP
How will ESSA change Hawaii’s academic standards?
The requirements of ESSA are:
States must adopt challenging standards in reading, math and science, aligned to credit-bearing college entrance requirements and technical standards. States must also maintain English language development standards aligned to content standards.
Hawaii meets the ESSA requirements with the BOE’s adoption in 2010 of the
Hawaii Common Core for English language arts and math and the 2016 adoption of the
Next Generation Science Standards. The 2009 BOE adoption of the
WIDA English Language Development Standards satisfies the requirement for English language development standards.
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How will ESSA impact assessments in Hawaii?
There is no change in federal requirements for testing. With exception of grade 11, when high school juniors take both the ACT and the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Hawaii students take the minimum number of tests required by the federal government. (See our
factsheet on student testing.) The requirements are:
States must assess students in grades 3-8 and once in high school in reading and math; once in grades 3-5, 6-8, and 10-12 in science; and in English language proficiency.
Hawaii meets the requirements in ESSA with statewide assessments for students:
ESSA also supports states’ efforts to reduce testing. Hawaii has already taken steps to
streamline the state assessment portfolio. After a review in 2015, the Department announced that the ACT for all grades (except grade 11) and four of the five end of course exams would no longer be required.HIDOE is reviewing current assessments and considering options. BACK TO TOP
What about opting out of tests?
ESSA requires that all schools and the state be held accountable for testing at least 95 percent of their students. States that fail to meet the 95 percent participation requirement risk losing federal funds.
ESSA also respects state authority by preventing the federal law from superseding any state laws with respect to a parent or guardian’s decision on participating in assessments. The law requires that, upon request, parents be provided with information regarding state policy, procedures, and parental rights regarding student participation in mandated assessments. BACK TO TOP
Photo: Feedback from principals on ESSA impacts, gathered at monthly principals' meetings, which is shaping the draft of the state plan.
How will ESSA impact school accountability?
Here’s an overview of what ESSA requires for school accountability systems and how HIDOE stacks up against those requirements:
GOALS: ESSA replaces NCLB’s Adequate Yearly Progress with state-defined goals for schools and the state:
- Achievement on state assessments;
- High school graduation rates; and
- English language proficiency for English Language Learners.
HIDOE will work with principals, teachers, and other stakeholders to develop these goals in alignment with the Strategic Plan.
MEASURES: Our Strive HI Performance System fits many ESSA requirements, which includes:
- A state-defined performance
index that meaningfully differentiates school performance annually and includes academic indicators and at least one measure of “school quality” or “student success.”
HIDOE is looing at ways to further innovate the school accountability system.
SUBGROUPS: ESSA requires additional data points that HIDOE will need to collect and report on. These data include:
- Adding English Language Proficiency for English Learners to the Strive HI Index;
- Current student subgroup performance reported as part of the Strive HI System includes economic disadvantage, disability (special education), English Learner (EL) and various ethnicities/races. Additional student subgroups to be included are:
- Homeless students
- Students in foster care
- Students with parents in the military
SUPPORTING SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT: The Strive HI Performance System meets and, in some instances, exceeds the requirements in ESSA. ESSA requires:
- At least once every 3 years, states must identify and intervene in schools that: (1) are in the bottom 5% of the state’s index, (2) have graduation rates less than 67%, or (3) have subgroups that are consistently underperforming in the same manner as a school under the lowest 5% category for a state determined number of years.
- States also have to identify schools with consistently underperforming subgroups.
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How will ESSA impact expectations of teachers?
ESSA makes changes to the provisions of NCLB that dealt with the definition of "Highly Qualified Teacher" or HQT. However, there is additional guidance pending from USDOE regarding clarification and implementation of those changes. In the interim, HIDOE will review the federal criteria for determining highly qualified status and will continue to implement criteria similar to current practice. BACK TO TOP
How will ESSA impact educator evaluations?
ESSA eliminates the federal requirement for an educator evaluation. However, in Hawaii, state law, BOE policies, collective bargaining agreements, and memoranda of understanding with the unions provide the mandate and policy framework for educator evaluations (Hawaii’s educator evaluations are
EES). This framework pre-dates the federal requirement in ESEA flexibility for the connection between evaluations and student performance.
UDPATE: The Board of Education approves change to teacher evaluation policy removing student test scores as a measure. This will be reflected in the 2016-17 Educator Evaluation System.
Read press release.
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How will ESSA affect charter schools?
Similar to NCLB, ESSA also applies to charter schools, since charters are public schools. Some examples of how this applies to charters, include:
- Charters must be included in the Strive HI Performance System;
- Charters must implement the academic standards adopted by the BOE;
- Charters must administer the statewide assessments; and
- Charter schools must comply with the federal requirements regarding expenditure of federal funds.
In addition, ESSA increases funding and makes changes to the pre-existing federal Charter Schools Program — a competitive grant program that supports replication and expansion of high performing charter schools; credit enhancement and facilities funds; and replication and expansion of charter management organizations. There are stringent assurances that state entities interested in applying for the grant must meet, including but not limited to ensuring that charters have a high degree of autonomy that is balanced with quality authorizing that includes assessments of annual school data on student performance (graduation rates, academic growth, student attrition); annual audits of financial statements; and holding schools accountable to academic, financial and operational quality controls.
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How will ESSA impact regulations around English Language Learners?
HIDOE will need to establish and measure long-term objectives and interim progress of English language learners achieving English language proficiency. ESSA also changes the term to English Learner (EL) from the prior “Limited English Proficient,” and folds accountability for this subgroup into the broader statewide accountability system (Strive HI Performance System). There are no changes to use of federal funds.
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How will ESSA impact the Native Hawaiian Education Act (NHEA)?
NHEA will continue under Title VI, which provides grants for Native Hawaiian early learning, curriculum development and more. $32 million a year is authorized, and includes charter schools as eligible applicants. These grants are competitive federal grants awarded by the USDOE.
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What are next steps?
HIDOE is receiving regular updates from USDOE with guidance on transitioning to ESSA. HIDOE anticipates that federal regulations for Title I will be available in October 2016. A state plan will be submitted to the USDOE in March 2017.
Through 2016, HIDOE and the Board of Education are embarking on a review and extension of the Strategic Plan that includes significant community outreach to support a common understanding of what student success and high quality education looks like. That effort will culminate in December, and will inform the state plan for ESSA (see timeline graphic, below). BACK TO TOP