President Morial Announces Education Equity Report Cards for Every Student Succeeds Act

Following a thorough evaluation of states’ plans for addressing inequity in their education systems, the National Urban League, led by former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial, announced that nine states were rated “excellent” and eight states “poor.”

The rest of the 37 plans reviewed were rated “sufficient”.  Evaluations were done in 36 states and Washington D.C. where Urban League affiliates are located. 

 “States have an opportunity to commit earnestly to advancing equity,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “Our goal is to help states take better advantage of that opportunity — to equip communities, community leaders, equity advocates, parents, students, families, and administrators with the information necessary to strengthen their state-level advocacy as every state implements these plans.”

As part of its Equity & Excellence Project, an initiative to supports local, state, and national advocacy, engagement, and education reform efforts the National Urban League has reviewed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plans that have been submitted to, and approved by, the U.S. Department of Education. The purpose of the review was to determine the likelihood of the plans to advance equity and excellence for vulnerable students in our nation’s public schools.

Morial cautioned that the report cards do not constitute an assessment or analysis of a state’s school system. Rather, they identify the extent to which states have addressed specific equity concerns, such as breaking the school-to-prison pipeline, expanding access to early childhood education, cultural competence training for staff and disparate per-pupil spending in their state plans.

The states rated “excellent” are Colorado, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Rhode Island.  These states are off to a strong start making the most of opportunities to further advance equity with some areas for improvement and a small number of areas deserving urgent attention.

The states rated “poor” are Virginia, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan and California. These states missed opportunities to further advance equity in a majority of areas with several areas needing urgent attention.

The other states rated “sufficient,” were adequately attentive to opportunities to further advance equity while missing several opportunities, all of which having a few areas deserving urgent attention. 

 “This analysis comes at a time when the nation is undergoing a transformational shift in conversations about race, socioeconomic status, and the systematic role they play in Americans’ lives,” Morial said. “With education at the forefront, advocates and stakeholders alike are looking critically at what states have committed to do for students and how they are going to doing it.” 

Morial added that the review provided an opportunity for the National Urban League and its partners, to emphasize key equity levers that will be necessary to fortify the next reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The National Urban League makes several recommendations for national, state and local action:

● Congress should hold hearings on the areas for concern and oversight, including resource equity, subgroup accountability and supports for struggling schools, data transparency and accessibility. We also urge Congress to exert its federal oversight role to determine whether approved state plans meet statutory requirements.

● State leaders should learn from each other and adopt promising practices from their peers where we identified areas for improvement. 

● Advocates and state leaders should use the law’s public reporting requirements to analyze expenditures and make sure budgets prioritize students with the greatest need.

● Advocates should encourage their states to amend their plans based on the National Urban League’s ESSA State Plan Equity Report Card. 

● Community Stakeholders – community-based civil rights partners, educators, community leaders, equity advocates, parents, students, families, administrators – should hold their school districts accountable for the equitable implementation of ESSA. The National Urban League advocated for the inclusion of family and community engagement in the development and implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That partnership is critical to ensuring that ESSA meets the promise of ensuring that each child receives an equitable and excellent education that ensures their success in college, work and life.

To view the full report and each state report card, visit

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