State-Level Assessments and Teacher Evaluation Systems after the Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act: Some Steps in the Right Direction

Federally mandated standardized testing (i.e., in core subject areas and certain grade levels), as an element of educational accountability, began in 2002 with the No Child Left Behind Act. With that step, large-scale assessments came to serve as one of the foundations of accountability-based systems and policies not only for districts, schools and students, but for teachers as well.

Yet, as a result of identified weaknesses of such practices, especially at the student and teacher levels, Congress passed the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The new law reduced federal oversight and gave states more control over their state assessment and accountability systems.

This brief examines the results of this element of ESSA, and offers a thematic analysis of state-level assessments in ESSA plans from every state and the District of Columbia. It also includes results of a detailed survey, completed by department of education personnel from 34 states and the District of Columbia, which explores additional information pertinent to state teacher evaluation systems.