The policy-making process in different public spheres at local, federal, or state levels occurs upon the identification of a problem solution to it through the agenda. The educational field entails a broad system of issues that require a thorough plan of action. One such issue is the problem of low local accountability of authorities for the educational performance of students in public schools, as well as unequal opportunities for learning among diverse groups of the population.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed by Obama’s administration in 2015, is a policy that addresses these issues and aims at restructuring the educational system of the USA; however undergoes an array of obstacles and imperfections on its way to complete implementation. In this paper, the policy is analyzed from the perspective of the policy-making process with regards to its rationale, relevancy, effect, and possible implications for improvement.
The rationale for the Every Student Succeeds Act
ESSA is a policy initiative that became a national law to reconstruct and update the national educational system by the new requirements of the twenty-first century. According to Darling-Hammond et al. (2016), previously active law under the title, the No Child Left Behind Act did not suffice the needs of the modern-day schools in America. Among the issues that needed immediate action and became a rationale for the new policy is low accountability for students’ success at the local level, inequality in access to education, disparities among subjects and the methods of testing students’ performance, and inadequate special education system. Therefore, the new policy targets the areas of poor performance within the whole field of public schools across the US and intends to apply a series of measures.
Indeed, the previous system imposed an unrealistic analysis system that did not depict the true picture of students’ knowledge and skills. The multiple-choice tests used to evaluate knowledge in two subjects decreased the opportunities for achieving better expertise in other subjects. Also, the failure to adhere to the set standards was punished by sanctions; such a state of affairs encouraged local facilities to prioritize test results instead of students’ overall knowledge (Darling-Hammond et al., 2016).
ESSA provides more opportunities for state authorities to develop their systems of students’ achievement measurement. The designated priority of the policy is to guarantee all students’ success at school to ensure their ability to continue college education and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a career (Darling-Hammond et al., 2016). Overall, the measurements of school achievements, students’ engagement, parental inclusion, and equal access to resources are integrated to ensure continuous improvement of the educational system.
Relevancy and Effect of the Policy
ESSA enables applying a holistic approach to evaluating and improving the academic performance of the students. The overall policy is relevant to the current needs and requirements of the American school system. It has shown its positive effect on the state’s inclusion in policy implementation. The schools are now viewed more holistically with regards to the student’s background, their cultural and social characteristics, access to educational resources, and parental inclusion into accountability for the students’ outcomes (Darling-Hammond et al., 2016).
The needs of all students, including those with special needs and underprivileged, are met through the encouragement of state facilities to develop personalized learning strategies according to the particularities they observe locally. At the administrative level, schools are expected to be more proactive in diagnosing and timely addressing the issues that obstruct every student’s learning success.
Implications for Improvement
The policy intends to address inequality in public schools by providing equal opportunity to access high-standard education for all students. However, the legislation does not provide any guidelines or ways of eliminating the causes of inequality. For example, in the case when underprivileged children or those coming from low-income families fail to perform adequately within the learning process, it might be possible to initiate additional funding for such families to eliminate the root of the problem. To evaluate the changes in funding, it might be relevant to conduct research comparing the level of low-income students’ academic drop-outs before and after financing. In addition, the national government should provide a congress-level oversight to ensure adequate implementation of the policy.
Summarizing the discussion, the field of education is one of the public domains that require thorough and systematic policy-making. ESSA is an initiative that targets complex restructuring of accountability approaches and aims at learning outcomes improvement for all students within the inclusive setting.
A holistic approach to diagnosing and addressing the tentative issues is applied. Moreover, state authorities are allowed to develop their measurement systems so that all schools can easily deal with their particular problems and resolve each student’s difficulties. Despite ESSA’s overall relevance to the current situation and its effectiveness, there are areas for improvement, including additional funding to help eliminate such a cause of inequality as poverty. In the case of the policy’s successful improvements, the goals it pursues will be fulfilled throughout the target sphere.
Darling-Hammond, L., Bae, S., Cook-Harvey, C. M., Lam, L., Mercer, C., Podolsky, A., & Stosich, E. L. (2016). Pathways to new accountability through the Every Student Succeeds Act. Web.