ESSA: Will Adding a Nonacademic Accountability Indicator Enhance Student and Learning Supports?

School accountability is a policy tool with extraordinary power to reshape schools – for good and for bad. Systems are driven by accountability measures. This is particularly so under “reform” conditions. Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) brings with it concerns and issues about what will and should be done to ensure that every student succeeds. The months ahead are a critical time for reversing the marginalization and fragmentation of student and learning supports that policies over many years have created. Detailed discussion relevant to these concerns started with the rule-making related to Title I. The U.S. Department of Education issued a Request for information “seeking advice and recommendations for Title I regulations under ESSA.” While only a small part of the new act, it does call for a focus on what widely are referred to as “nonacademic” indicators (see Exhibit A). This is an especially important matter for those eager to expand accountability as a step forward in broadening school improvement efforts, especially those related to student and learning supports and whole child development.