Strategically Responding to ESSA

June 22, 2016

On June 21st, thirty diverse 100Kin10 partners gathered in Washington D.C. to workshop a shared challenge: strategically transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Hearing the many doubts and questions partners had around navigating this new environment, we were excited to kick off our third Solution Lab, a process that begins with a design-thinking workshop to identify key challenges and turn those into opportunities - eventually informing the development of a tool, service, or product that partners then bring to life.

At a high-level, Solution Labs involve:

* Facilitating partners to together crystallize the problems they face;
* Identifying a tool, product or solution that will help overcome these problems, and;
* Co-investing in and bringing to market said tool, product, or solution.

But first, what is ESSA? In a nutshell, ESSA is a bipartisan measure passed in December 2015 that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Notable for moving much federal power back to the states and drastically reducing the number of federally-mandated programs and regulations, ESSA creates a new policy and operating landscape in school districts and states across the country.

Over the course of the day (see agenda), partners pinpointed the challenges they face in the transition to ESSA, met with policy specialists over lunch, heard from inspiring experts who had themselves addressed similar challenges, and finally identified tools and strategies that they could collectively use to overcome their shared challenges. The insight offered by leaders in analogous contexts, be it the fight for a $15 minimum wage or the move to advance healthcare research funding, inspired and expanded our thinking as to how we might mobilize to advance our goal of enriching every classroom in America with an excellent STEM teacher.

Here’s a snapshot of a few of the challenges – and opportunities – we identified:

1. Ensuring equity in the absence of strong regulations
In the absence of federal requirements and oversight focused on equity, how might we ensure that historically underserved students are not overlooked? This group presented the idea of creating a rich visualization of STEM education opportunities to act as both an informative guide and a compelling storytelling tool for the importance of advancing equity under ESSA.

2. Rebuilding confidence in public education
Given the mistrust many educators have in the system, how might we use the transition to ESSA as a bold opportunity to rebuild teachers’ trust in and ownership of the public school system? The idea of a citizen engagement toolkit emerged, one that would assist school districts in change management under ESSA by clarifying the changes under the provision and rallying grassroots communities around together ensuring a smooth transition.

3. Encouraging adoption of NGSS/ standards and assessments
As states take this opportunity to re-evaluate their own standards and assessments, how might we encourage the adoption of the NGSS and incentivize the outcomes we want to see in STEM learning? Having a toolkit introduced the idea of a toolkit that would highlight simple ways states might optimize their standards and assessments to align more closely with NGSS under the new provision, as well as a community forum where those states who had already aligned could confer and support each other.

This is just the beginning. As our lightning talk speakers embodied, despite addressing diverse challenges, we have at our disposal a unified set of tools, such as: a bold vision, a clear message, a plan for sustained stakeholder engagement, and broad public/private partnerships. There are many challenges we as individual organizations and as a network face as we chart our way forward under ESSA. But, working together as committed partner organizations, we can turn these challenges into opportunities and ensure that we continue to make progress toward our shared goal of ensuring every child has access to excellent STEM teaching. Because together, we’ll solve it.

Interested in getting involved in the 100Kin10 leadership group on ESSA? Email Grace Clawater-Doramus at

For a few key resources for understanding the implications of the act, check out:
* A Video Overview of ESSA (Education Week)
* Analysis of Key STEM Provisions in ESSA (STEM Education Coalition)
* You may also email questions directly to

A heartfelt thanks to our provocateur lightning speakers:
* Craig Brammer, CEO, The Health Collaborative
* Mike Coburn, EVP & COO Research!America

* Jonathan Rosen, Partner, BerlinRosen
* Sonal Shah, Executive Director Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation

Thank you to participating partners:
* Alex Carter, The Colorado Education Initiative
* Alexandra Perrotti, National Geographic
* Amanda Ludwig, Denver Teacher Residency/Denver Public Schools
* Brenda Barr, National Geographic
* Camsie McAdams, The New Teacher Project
* Caroline King, Washington STEM
* Carolyn Landel, The Charles A. Dana Center
* David Clifton, Citizen Schools
* Dewayne Morgan, University System of Maryland
* Eden Badertscher, Mathematical Practice Institute @ EDC
* Ellen Quigley, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation
* Gloria Molina-Estolano, Teach For America
* Heidi Glidden, American Federation of Teachers
* Jodi Peterson, National Science Teachers Association
* Katelynn M. Eckert, American Chemical Society
* Katherine Blanchard, Smithsonian Science Education Center
* Lauren Posey, American Chemical Society
* Lindsay Fitzpatrick, The Charles A. Dana Center
* Lynda Kennedy, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
* Michael Feder, Battelle
* Michael Odell, Ingenuity Center at the University of Texas, Tyler
* Nancy Shapiro, University System of Maryland
* Pamela Romero, UTeach Institute, University of Texas at Austin
* Patti Curtis, National Center for Technological Literacy, Museum of Science, Boston
* Rebecca E. Vieyra, American Association of Physics Teachers
* Roxanne Garza, Citizen Schools
* Shelly Masur, CDE Foundation