Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

It's time to replace the nation's most important education law with one that ensures opportunity for every child, expands support for schools, teachers, and principals, and preserves accountability for the progress of all students.

Recent Updates

History of ESEA

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who believed that "full educational opportunity" should be "our first national goal."

ESEA offered new grants to districts serving low-income students, federal grants for text and library books, it created special education centers, and created scholarships for low-income college students. Additionally, the law provided federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education.

NCLB and Accountability

In 2002, with bipartisan support, Congress reauthorized ESEA and President George W. Bush signed the law, giving it a new name: No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

While NCLB put in place measures that exposed achievement gaps among traditionally underserved and vulnerable students and their peers, and started an important national dialogue on educational improvement, the law is long overdue for reauthorization.

Many parents, educators, and elected officials have recognized that a strong, updated law is necessary to expand opportunity for all students in America; to support schools, teachers, and principals; and to strengthen our educational system and economy.

In 2012, the Obama administration began offering flexibility to states regarding specific requirements of NCLB in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive state-developed plans designed to close achievement gaps, increase equity, improve the quality of instruction, and increase outcomes for all students. Thus far 42 states, DC and Puerto Rico have received flexibility from NCLB.

The Need for a New Law

Secretary Duncan has called for replacing NCLB with a new ESEA that takes advantage of the lessons of the last several years and builds on the progress that America's students and educators have worked hard to achieve.

The Obama Administration's plan would ensure that all young people are prepared to succeed in college and careers, that historically underserved populations are protected, and that educators have the resources they need to succeed.

On January 12, 2015, Secretary Duncan laid out a bold vision for ESEA. Duncan called on Congress to create a law that will improve access to high-quality preschool, foster innovation, and advances equity and access.

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