ESSA accountability regulations were overturned. What now? We know reform advocates will continue their work to support ESSA engagement and implementation at the state level. At the same time, a complicated landscape just became even more murky for those on the front lines. To help navigate through the complexities, we’re tapping the expertise of eight PIE Network federal-facing partners. The National Council on Teacher Quality weighs in below.
Equal Access to Highly Affective Teachers
While Congress’ repeal of key ESSA regulations likely raises many questions within state education agencies on how best to move forward with their state plans, there is language within the federal statute—as well as precedents from before these regulations were written—that show states a way to advance a pro-student, pro-equity agenda.
ESSA requires that state agencies ensure that “low-income and minority students … are not served at disproportionate rates by ineffective, out-of-field, or inexperienced teachers”. It further mandates that local educational agencies describe how they will identify and solve such disparities.
Consequently, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and state agencies can require that states must determine whether their low-income students and minority students are taught by an unfair share of teachers who are less likely to increase student learning, and, where such inequities exist, require districts to address this problem.
ESSA reinforces the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)’s vision that no child should be taught by an ineffective teacher due to the color of her skin or her family’s income. NCTQ calls on the U.S. Department of Education and state agencies to enforce these strong statutory provisions vigorously. They should require state agencies and districts to annually calculate and report the rates at which low-income and minority students are served by ineffective, out-of-field, and inexperienced teachers, as well as communicate what they did to eliminate these disparities.
An important point to remember: there is strong precedent for enforcement of similar equity provisions based on statute alone.
In 2006 and 2015, in the absence of implementing regulations on this provision, ED still required states to address the equity provisions in the then-current version of the ESEA. So, ED and the states both can and must take steps to demand better teachers for those who need them most.
 Section 1111(g)(1)(B)
 ESEA section 1112(b)(2)