Archive for January 4th, 2016


Every Student Succeeds Act

January 4, 2016

The State of Things

Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Maine Department of Education, Beth Lambert will 4747f3_e307e6fa3fd747b697c839e1e95fd0f9periodically be writing blog posts under the title of “The State of Things”. Today is her first offering on the topic of Every Student Succeeds Act, the new legislation from the federal government. I know you join me in appreciating what Beth has to offer in this post and in future posts. If you have questions or feedback for Beth please contact her at

On Thursday, December 10th, 2015, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became the new federal education law of the land. In an effort to contrast the heavy-handed federal accountability requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), ESSA has shifted much more responsibility for educational policy to the state level.

So, what does this mean for Arts Education?

No Child Left Behind included the arts in the core subject areas, listed on equal footing with math, science, English, social studies, and foreign language. This was a huge win for arts education and has allowed for the arts to have a place at the table in conversations regarding graduation requirements and use of Federal funds, including Title 1.

ESSA has changed things a bit.

There are no longer core subject areas, but rather a requirement to offer student a “well-rounded education.” A “well-rounded education” is defined as: courses, activities, and programming in subjects such as English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education, health, physical education, and any other subject, as determined by the State or local education agency, with the purpose of providing all students access to an enriched curriculum and educational experience, (Section 8002, Definitions).

In an intentional contrast to NCLB, ESSA give states much more choice in what they choose as accountability measures. The Every Students Succeeds Act requires that states develop and implement both programs and activities that support access to a well-rounded education, but what programs and activities those are, are largely state and local school boards’ discretion.

SO, that means your voice is more important than ever! Your administrators and local school boards need to understand that visual and performing arts education is essential to a well-rounded education. Keep your place at the table and educate your community on the impact the arts can have on low-performing schools, how integrating the arts can improve understanding in all subject areas and inspire innovation that is desperately needed in this country.

Beth Lambert ( is the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Maine Department of Education

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