Now We Confront the Real Equity Challenge: Providing Access to 21st Century Learning

Renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was once considered a long shot, but yesterday the new, bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law. This historical accomplishment comes not a moment too soon. No Child Left Behind, the previous iteration of the act, importantly aimed attention on the achievement of underserved students. However, it was criticized for focusing schools almost exclusively on teaching for low-level multiple-choice tests in reading and math to the neglect of other subject areas and higher-level skills. Two key questions now are whether federal regulators will encourage states to take advantage of the new flexibility provided by ESSA to move teaching and learning purposefully into the 21st century–and whether states will assure that these opportunities are made available to all students, rather than…


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