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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities




School of Education and Human Services


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 has the potential to be important for American music education. Unlike its predecessor, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), ESSA mentions music by name as one of the components of a “well-rounded education,” rather than including it under the arts. However, there is much that is unknown about ESSA and how it pertains to music education. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to better understand the perceptions of music educators on the transition to and the first years of ESSA. The primary source of data included 18 semi-structured interviews with secondary music educators working in Nassau County, New York. Most participants did not consider themselves knowledgeable about ESSA or the policy process in their schools. Similarly, the participants of this study felt they were uninvolved in the transition from NCLB to ESSA. However, applying the theory of policy enactment as a framework showed that the participants were more involved than they realized due to how they responded to the consequences of ESSA and other policies. Many music educators in this study were also concerned about the effects of educational policy on equity and the civil rights of students. Additionally, participants noted numerous contextual factors that influenced the manifestations of educational policies in schools and their impacts on music education. These findings have implications for music educators, policy makers, administrators, and all those who hope to advocate for equitable music education, as well as music’s important role in the curriculum.

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