How Relevant are State ESSA Plans?

The Issue:

Last week, the U. S. of Department of Education (US ED) approved twelve of the consolidated plans required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The following state plans were approved on January 16: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

US ED’s approval of state ESSA plans, and US ED’s communications with states regarding the quality of their plans, have come amid concerns from a growing number of advocates, legislators, and government officials regarding whether the approved plans are fully compliant with the statutory requirements of ESSA; whether the submitted plans represent missed opportunities for innovation by states; and how prepared State Educational Agencies (SEAs) are to support implementation by districts and schools.

The Process:

All states have now submitted their ESSA State Plans to US ED for review. Roughly one-third of states submitted their plans in April 2017, and the remainder submitted their plans in September 2017. All of the plans submitted for the April deadline have been approved by US ED except for Colorado, for which approval appears to still be pending. US ED has committed to providing feedback to each SEA prior to reaching a decision on that state’s plan. Under ESSA, US ED has up to 120 days to approve/deny each State Plan. Under this timeline, the State Plans submitted for the September deadline are targeted for approval sometime this month.

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