The ESSA clock has wound down and state plans are due, but where does your state stand and what does its status mean for students, parents, and educators?

ESSADuring the nearly two years that have passed since Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have been planning how to align with the demands being made by the federal Department of Education while designing curriculum that will benefit local students.

Under the management of the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, the federal government demanded that all ESSA state plans be submitted by September 18. As educators prepare to implement the approved plans in their states, or wait for local governments to submit their outlines, they should be paying attention to the details of how this will affect education in their regions.

Process of Planning

While ESSA provides more control over curriculum to local boards of education, they must still adhere to the following guidelines mandated by the federal government:

  • Title I, Part A: Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies
  • Title I, Part C: Education of Migratory Children
  • Title I, Part D: Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk
  • Title II, Part A: Supporting Effective Instruction
  • Title III, Part A: English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement
  • Title IV, Part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
  • Title IV, Part B: 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Title V, Part B, Subpart 2: Rural and Low-Income School Program
  • Title VII, Subpart B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act: Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (McKinney-Vento Act)

States who do not include every program in their plans must illustrate how they will provide comparable support to students to reach the same goal, if they seek funding for that topic.

Who is In?

Though the deadline to submit a plan was set for September 18, The 74 reports that 16 states and the District of Columbia submitted theirs in April 2017. To provide complete transparency, the United States Department of Education (US ED) has made the plans from ArizonaColoradoConnecticutDelawareDistrict of ColumbiaIllinoisLouisianaMaineMassachusettsMichiganNevada New JerseyNew MexicoNorth DakotaOregonTennessee, and Vermont available online for review by parents, teachers, and education leaders from other states who have not yet submitted their outlines.

ESSAOf these, 12 have been approved by the US ED, leaving Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, West Virginia, and Wyoming as the last plans from the April submissions to be reviewed. While many states have pledged to submit plans by the deadline, others are requesting extensions, which is troubling considering plan approval isn’t guaranteed and the federal government could return outlines to state educational agencies (SEAs) for revisions.

“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who made a career of promoting local control of education, has signaled a surprisingly hard-line approach to carrying out an expansive new federal education law, issuing critical feedback that has rattled state school chiefs and conservative education experts alike,” said The New York Times in July.

While the federal government awaits the remaining ESSA plans, teachers should become involved by leading discussions and reviewing the information that was submitted in April. If your state was not part of the April cohort, it will have a review and feedback session before submitting its plan to the US ED. Be sure to review your state’s plan during this period and give meaningful feedback whenever possible.

Despite the opportunities for states to take ownership of education, teachers and other education professionals throughout the country can work together to bring ESSA’s best ideas from individual regions to all the nation’s schoolchildren.

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