Commentary by Jack Markell, governor of Delaware from 2009 to 2017. He is a former chair of the National Governors Association and was a co-chair of the initiative that established the Common Core State Standards.

After 14 years of No Child Left Behind—a federal education law that brought needed attention to underserved students across the country, but became increasingly out of touch with classroom realities—states are ready for changes under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which goes into full effect in the 2017-18 school year. Under ESSA, states can choose their own measures of progress for student learning aligned to their visions of what education should look like.

In the wake of final federal regulations for accountability released in November, deadlines are approaching for states to submit their proposals to the U.S. Department of Education for how they will hold schools accountable under the law. These accountability plans must show how states will implement academic standards aligned to help students stay on track for success in college and the workplace; ensure students from all backgrounds have an equal footing; track progress of schools across a variety of measures not limited to test scores; and identify ways to offer additional support where students are struggling. Read More.