ESEA reauthorization must focus on excellence, equity and innovation

KnowledgeWorks releases recommendations to advance personalized learning through competency education, collective impact and high school reform


The U.S. has increasing populations of traditionally underserved students, sluggish academic results and an increasingly prevalent job skills gap. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is an essential step to improving the nation’s education and workforce systems.

With the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives commencing ESEA conversations, KnowledgeWorks encourages federal policymakers to enact a reauthorization bill in the 114th Congress that maintains a strong commitment to accountability and transparency while providing states and districts with greater flexibility to innovate.

Today, the organization released its official Recommendations for Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). These recommendations will empower states and districts to better align their education systems with the demands of postsecondary and the workforce by advancing and supporting personalized learning through high school reform, collective impact and competency-based systems.

“The reauthorization should empower states and districts to build education systems that maximize student achievement and expand access to high quality educational opportunities for all students,” KnowledgeWorks Vice President Policy and Advocacy Matt Williams said. “We look forward to working with all stakeholders in advancing an ESEA reauthorization that puts the student at the center of the education system.”

KnowledgeWorks’ recommendations build on the strengths of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), while empowering states, districts and local communities to design K-12 education systems that prepare students for success in an increasingly complex workforce.

Next-generation education systems must evolve from a one-size-fits-all approach to highly personalized learning experiences that ensure all students master the academic knowledge an- skills necessary for success beyond graduation

The recommendations focus on: improving high school graduation rates and postsecondary completion through high school reform, which includes early college high school and dual enrollment options;  supporting hundreds of communities throughout the country that have adopted the collective impact framework to improve outcomes for students; and removing barriers for states and districts that are building competency-based systems, while creating an accountability system to focus on student growth and mastery.

“These recommendations were informed by the powerful results of KnowledgeWorks’ subsidiary organizations,” KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler said. “If we want to ensure every student succeeds in college and career, we must enact policies that build on our current success, scaling the programs and practices with the greatest potential to drive results.”

About KnowledgeWorks

KnowledgeWorks is a national nonprofit organization advancing a future of learning that ensures each student graduates ready for what’s next. For 20 years, we’ve been partnering with states, communities and leaders across the country to imagine, build and sustain vibrant learning communities. Through evidence-based practices and a commitment to equitable outcomes, we’re creating the future of learning, together.