ESSA Principles

The Michigan Students Achieve coalition is committed to ensuring that the Michigan Department of Education’s plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act focuses on academic excellence for all students; prioritizes closing opportunity gaps for historically underserved students, ensures honest and transparent information for Michigan families and other stakeholders, and includes a true commitment to the four central principles, outlined below:


The main goal of education is preparing students for success in college and career. The focus of systems for improvement must include accountability, public reporting, supports and interventions. 

In today’s knowledge economy, students are expected to be prepared for career and college when they graduate high school. And our students are held accountable for unpreparedness through the cost of remedial courses, lack of access to college admissions and barriers to gainful employment.

Our schools and school districts should also be accountable for preparing all students to succeed, and be supported to improve when any group of students is chronically struggling. Meaningful accountability must:

  • Ensure the availability of honest data on student achievement through the continued use of a high-quality, standards-aligned assessment that provides comparability with students in other states;
  • Be primarily based on academic factors, including student proficiency, growth, graduation rates and English learner progress;
  • Make all groups of students matter by holding schools accountable for the achievement of all student groups;
  • Send a clear and comprehensive signal to parents around school quality, through a single identifier of school success; and
  • Publicly report on a range of academic and other measures of school success, including both factors considered in the accountability system and other factors that may be relevant for parent, community and policymaker decision-making.

Clear, ambitious and achievable improvement goals are essential for ensuring equity in our schools and moving Michigan toward becoming a top ten education state.

Michigan must resist the temptation to set low goals that are easily achievable but fail to significantly improve the quality of education in our schools and deceive parents on the quality of education in their school. Michigan must set clear improvement goals and well-defined timelines for all groups of students, ensuring that those who are the furthest behind are supported and expected to make the greatest progress, so all groups of students are caught up to grade-level standards.


Make students, families and educators full partners through transparency, inclusion and honest and comparable data.

Michigan families and communities succeed when Michigan schools succeed. To affect change, parents, educators and community leaders must be full partners in the education system and have the tools to understand how schools are serving their children and where gaps or deficiencies exist. This requires the availability of data that is relevant, transparent, honest and comparable with other schools, other districts and other states.


Prompt action should be taken and supported when schools are not meeting rigorous expectations for all students, including historically underserved student groups.

Michigan students can’t wait for action when schools are not meeting rigorous expectations – especially students from historically underserved communities. When any group of students within a school is underperforming, that school must promptly conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to identify root causes of the underperformance, needed support and begin to address challenges through appropriate solutions.

When underperformance for any group of students persists for three years, greater change must happen to ensure that our most vulnerable students do not continue to be left behind. Improving the quality of education is challenging work and schools must be supported to succeed.