U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law.

ESSA replaces the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Act and gives states greater decision making power over education.

"This is such an improvement over what we've had," said Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. "Under No Child Left Behind, the federal government drove everything that happened in education and it was never our conversation as a state. We have an opportunity to step back and make this our conversation. And I can tell you that those lowest performing schools and our students most at risk will always be at the forefront."

Wyoming is one of seven states who decided not to obtain a No Child Left Behind waiver, something Balow says is important moving forward.

"Wyoming is better poised than most states to immediately implement and move forward with what works best for us because we will not be back-pedaling out of a waiver," said Balow.

ESSA will not be fully implemented until the 2017-2018 school year, giving the state about 18 months to make the transition.

"This is not an overnight fix," said Balow. "We have a lot of work with our education stakeholders to build buy-in, to implement it correctly, to align it with our current accountability work and current practices in school districts and we have to do all of that with student achievement at the forefront."

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