This is the first paper in a series of two discussing systems of school identification and support under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The purpose of this paper is to provide a fairly comprehensive overview of the federal law and key design considerations for states as they develop and revise their systems of school identification under ESSA. States will be required to identify schools in need of Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), Additional Targeted Support (ATSI), and any additional state-determined categories of schools. In all cases, identification must be informed by all of the state’s ESSA accountability indicators and the system of annual meaningful differentiation; however, depending on the category of support, states have varying degrees of flexibility in how they choose to use their accountability system to identify schools.
The first part of this paper provides annotated excerpts of the relevant ESSA language and offers additional clarification and summary. In the second part, we discuss the importance of defining a system of identification that aligns to the state’s theory of action and resources and key policy levers that serve to support that goal.