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ESSA Opportunity Dashboard

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) attempted to measure student and school progress based almost exclusively on standardized test scores. These test scores provided only a narrow glimpse into student and school performance and, even worse, the NCLB regime did not drive additional resources to so-called “failing” schools, it used test scores to take resources away from our most vulnerable students and schools. Thirteen years later, the outcome is clear: too often and in too many places, a student’s zip code dictates the quality of education available.

The recently revised version of ESEA -  the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) - has been revamped to include an “Opportunity Dashboard,” comprised of a range of school quality indicators, which will allow leaders to quantify and track the things that really matter when it comes to student success. This will allow parents, educators, and leaders to hold states accountable for providing students with the resources and opportunities fundamental to their success.

It is incumbent upon states to collect and report on the below indicators, disaggregated by student subgroup, and quickly remedy any gaps in the resources, supports, and programs provided to students.


  • Student attendance (elementary and middle school)
  • Graduation rate (high schools)
  • School climate index (such as bullying intervention and prevention, positive behavioral supports, parent and student surveys, and restorative justice practices
  • School discipline policies and the disparate impact on students of color, students with disabilities, and students that identify as LGBT
  • Appropriate assessment system
  • Students’ success in advanced coursework (AP/IB, honors, dual enrollment, college gateway math, science classes)
  • Students prepared for college or career technical education certification programs without need for remediation or learning support courses


  • Students’ access to fully qualified teachers, including Board-certified teachers
  • Students’ access to qualified paraeducators
  • Students’ access to optimal ratios of specialized instructional support personnel (school counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists)
  • Students’ access to fully qualified school librarians/media specialists
  • Quality professional development for all educators, including education support professionals
  • Fully funded mentoring and induction support for educators
  • Opportunities for job-embedded collaboration
  • Percentage of teachers who are teaching outside of their field
  • Percentage of teachers who leave the profession within their first three years
  • Educators empowered to make site-based decisions


  • Students’ access to modern materials, facilities, technology, books, and libraries
  • Students’ access to class sizes that allow for one-on-one attention
  • Students’ access to health and wellness programs, including social and emotional well-being
  • Students’ access to high-quality early education programs
  • Students’ access to full-day, five-day-a-week Kindergarten
  • Family and community engagement
  • Students’ access to and success in advanced coursework (AP/IB, honors, dual enrollment)
  • Students’ access to fine arts, foreign language, daily physical education, library/media studies, and career technical education


  • Resources still matter. State governments must be accountable for allocating sufficient resources—dollars, curriculum and learning tools, well-qualified educators, and safe, healthy environments for learning—to meet student needs and support meaningful learning.
  • A necessary first step is for each state to determine the resources needed to meet challenging and rigorous state academic standards and be assured of graduating college and career ready.
  • Equitable does not mean the same. Equitable means resources according to need. The greater the need, the greater the resources.
  • Each student should be given the same meaningful opportunity to learn regardless of one’s circumstances.

ESSA will measure whether meaningful opportunities are being provided through an Opportunity Dashboard.


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