Major Revision to “No Child Left Behind” a Step in the Right Direction

Washington – First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC) today welcomed Congressional approval of a major re-write of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that includes key provisions to boost educational outcomes for low-income students and improves early childhood education initiatives across the country.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), approved today in the Senate, is a refreshing example of how strong bipartisan efforts can lead to improved outcomes for children. ESSA puts an end to the patchwork federal waiver system and allows states to develop more tailored accountability measures and interventions that are more reflective of their student populations.

“When Congress works together, good things happen for kids,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “While ESSA takes great strides toward improving the outcome of the nation’s most vulnerable students, there is much more that can be done to strengthen our obligation to provide a high-quality public education to all children in this country.”

Included in the ESSA is the Community Support for Schools Success Program, which provides grants to community schools that offer more holistic approaches to children’s education by pairing classroom curriculum with social services. Full-Service Community Schools provide students in-house services such as primary health and dental care; mental health and counseling; nutrition services; mentoring; and adult education and job training for parents.

“Providing educational spaces where children’s academic, health, and mentoring needs are met benefits the students, their families, and the schools,” Lesley said. “With this program, we move closer to eliminating a blind-spot in federal policy, recognizing that what happens outside the classroom affects what happens inside the classroom.”

ESSA also provides additional support for foster children and homeless youth, children with disabilities, and neglected children. It also allows states to redirect resources to under-performing schools, high schools with high drop-out rates, and schools with achievement gaps.

On Dec. 8, 2015, FFCC sent a letter to members of Congress praising their support of ESSA and thanked them for taking a strong bi-partisan approach to its major overhaul of No Child Left Behind.

ESSA will “allow states to develop their own accountability measures and interventions to ensure every student is thriving in the classroom,” the letter reads.

FFCC will continue to advocate for improved educational initiatives, including a need for better funding equity and an end to the over-reliance on testing – areas where ESSA falls short. Education funding remains highly inequitable and statewide assessments in reading, math, and science are still required under the new law, as well as a 95 percent participation requirement.

“This Administration and Congress have begun to recognize the extent to which America’s schools are over-testing their students. I’m confident that lawmakers can work together on common-sense approaches to learning evaluation in the future,” Lesley said.


The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit

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