The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states the opportunity to craft new goals and strategies for science education. By setting clear goals for science achievement, states can leverage existing policies, including assessments and graduation requirements, to help drive toward set goals. Generally, states could elect to develop new programs and initiatives using funding provided by ESSA, and/or incorporate science into their new accountability systems. States are crafting their goals and strategies for science education through the development of new consolidated state plans, required by ESSA, and through new programs and initiatives using funding provided by ESSA.
This brief provides a landscape analysis of all states’ current assessment requirements and graduation requirements in science to help set the national policy context for science. To look at states’ current goals and approaches to science inclusion in their accountability plans under ESSA, as well as how they can leverage funding opportunities in ESSA to support science, this brief limits its scope to only those 16 states and the District of Columbia who submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) in the first round of submissions (May 2017). Once the remainder of plans have been submitted, the ESSA-focused sections of this brief will be updated to reflect the remaining states. Further, while the focus of this brief is specifically on science, the way that states develop ESSA strategies does not allow for the disentanglement of science from STEM; therefore, when discussing funding opportunities and state proposals for the use of funds provided through ESSA, the scope will broaden to STEM activities and initiatives.