Gifted Education Provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a 2015 legislation that revises and reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), a federal K-12 education law. The law was also referred to as ‘No Child Left Behind’ to eliminate achievement gaps between white students who are more affluent and those who are from disadvantaged backgrounds such as minorities and English language learners. So what is the ESSA all about? This acts as a source of major K-12 education initiatives and includes Title I schools (courses for English language learners, maths-science partnerships and student achievement), and Title II. An estimated $21 billion of funds are directed to states and schools districts and this is divided based on student population, economic status and grant programs for individual students. Let’s learn more about this act.

Changes and implications for the gifted and talented

This is a formula funded program that goes out to states and districts with targeted assistance programs for those in poverty. Jane Clarenbach, Director of Public Education (NAGC) points out that “There are two major additions in the new law and the first one – additional data reporting requirements – is long-lasting and high impact. Now we are able to see at the local and state level the percentage of students achieving at the advanced level on state assessments and from what populations. The second addition is that Title 1 funds can be used to support gifted and talented learners especially in lower income populations”.

The professional development portion of the law for improving teacher quality

There are three new provisions aimed at improving the quality of teaching and skills of those that are supporting the needs of gifted and talented children. Two of them are mandatory and the third can be called the ‘allowable use’ of Title 2 funds. The first relates to the state which submits plans relating to requirements in education and then to equip teachers with the skills to provide instruction in response to the learning needs of high achieving learners. Allowable use of funds relates to providing instructional services and training for the teachers (including acceleration & enrichment).

The new law also allows computer adapted assessments for accountability purposes.

Jacob Javits program and ESSA

This program funds the National Research Centre for the gifted and talented and also provides demonstration grants. Both are retained in the new law but it does not retain the specific statewide grants. But funds can be used for innovative projects so there is a possibility that state education agencies still have access to grants. Also research should be coordinated with other education initiatives and this is important to ensure that the research group does not stand out on its own but aligns with the rest of the program.