The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in 2015 and replaced the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. It reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, the national kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) education law emphasizing equal educational opportunities for all students. The law maintains a focus on equity for all students while giving states and local school districts much more ownership over systems of school accountability and support.

ESSA requires states to develop comprehensive plans for accountability and support, identify schools for support and improvement (Comprehensive and Targeted), and publish school report cards reflecting performance. Iowa’s system for accountability and support under ESSA was developed with broad public input, fits the state’s context, and focuses on helping schools find solutions that work for them.

Iowa’s new report cards, called the Iowa School Performance Profiles, include each school’s scores on a set of accountability measures, such as state assessments. The reports display results based on a school’s overall performance and the performance of subgroups of students, such as children from low-income backgrounds.

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ESSA Guidance & Allocations

The ESSA Guidance and Allocations webpage provides federal program contact information, up-to-date program-specific guidance and general ESSA resources to help implement and apply for federal funds.

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Conditions for Learning (CfL)

The Iowa Department of Education has included Conditions for Learning (CfL) as part of the plan under the new federal education law, Every Student Succeeds Act. All Iowa public school districts will use Conditions for Learning Surveys (Surveys) to improve safety, student engagement and the overall learning environment so that all Iowa students have optimum conditions for learning. Studies have shown this work matters. Improving skills such as solving problems, working out conflict, and working with other people in a group has led to double-digit increases on achievement test scores, improved classroom behavior and improved attitudes. Therefore, this work to improve safety, student engagement and the overall learning environment will have a lasting impact on the future.

All public schools in Iowa will use statewide online Surveys to assess Conditions for Learning in grades 3 through 12. Two versions of the Survey will be administered to students; one for students in grades 3-5 which has been adapted to be age appropriate for the lower grades, and one for students in grades 6-12.

The Surveys are (1) confidential, anonymous, and voluntary, (2) completed annually in the spring, and (3) focus on issues ranging from student safety, to positive student relationships, to school rules and how they are enforced. The information from the Surveys does not provide student-level results [all data are anonymous and aggregated],but does provide aggregated information that may be used by a school building to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and serves as a foundation on which to build an action plan for improving the learning environment for all students. The information will also help to determine the level of support needed by schools, and the resources they may need to provide an optimal learning environment for all learners.

Information will be provided to schools each fall as part of the ESSA Accountability Index. This Index is a broad indicator of a school’s needs, comprised of several measures such as student participation, academic achievement, student growth in academic areas, graduation rate, progress in achieving English language proficiency, postsecondary readiness - and Conditions for Learning for students in grades 3-5 and 6-12.

Beginning in 2020, two additional and voluntary Surveys will be available for school staff and parents. These Surveys are optional for schools and are not included in the ESSA Accountability Index. Results from these confidential, anonymous and voluntary surveys provide schools with additional information regarding the culture and climate of the school.

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ESSA Plan Development

Iowa Department of Education leaders finalized the state’s plan for meeting requirements of ESSA on September 18, 2017. Based on feedback from the U.S. Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Education made revisions to the state plan, which received federal approval on May 16, 2018.


Iowa Department of Education officials collected broad public input on development of the state’s ESSA plan. This outreach effort included 18 public meetings across the state in the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017, meetings of a state advisory committee and 11 education work teams, convening of focus groups, and collection of written comments through online feedback surveys, email and mail. The Department released three drafts of Iowa’s plan for public review in 2017.

ESSA Plan Stakeholder Feedback - Document representing the raw data from the Department's outreach effort in 2016 and 2017 to Iowa's Draft Plan.

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