14 State ESSA Plans Approved by U.S. Department of Education

Collaboration and innovation are at the forefront of the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, plans approved by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. ESSA is a bipartisan measure, signed into law on Dec. 10, 2015 and attempts to provide states with more collaboration and flexibility to serve their students, teachers and communities.

The guidelines of ESSA give each state greater control in developing their accountability systems and making funding decisions. ESSA’s core values are to:

  • Hold students to higher academic standards
  • Prepare all students for success in college and career
  • Guarantee quality control roadmaps for student and school improvements
  • Hold all schools accountable for their outcomes.

With the latest plan approvals, the emerging theme is one of innovation and collaboration among the states, further empowering their educational futures and decision-making authority. To date, Devos has approved 14 of the 17 submitted plans. “I’m heartened to see how the states have embraced the spirit of flexibility under ESSA to improve education for individual students," Devos said in a press release.

Initially, all state ESSA plans were due on April 3, 2017. The Department of Education has extended this deadline to Sept. 18, 2017. Several states met the April 3 deadline and have received the department’s approval for their plans, including Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont. Colorado, Massachusetts and Michigan have also submitted their plans with each submission receiving departmental feedback. The feedback process offers peer review recommendations on how to better meet the requirements of ESSA. Each state has an opportunity for resubmission, incorporating its peer reviewed recommendations.

Here are some of the highlights of each state’s approved plan. 


  • Creates an inclusion model for special education and a points-based system to advance student achievements
  • Creates metrics for students’ college and work preparedness including, work-based learning internships, industry certifications/credentials and college level/Career and Technical Education, or CTE, course performance


  • Integration of nonacademic needs, mental health, nutrition and after school programs as part of their performance indicators
  • Initiates Next Generation Accountability System to create a more holistic approach of student and school performances


  • Initiatives to reduce nonproficient student rates by 50 percent by 2030
  • Implements a multiple measures approach to school performance through the Delaware School Success Framework, or DSSF

District of Columbia

  • Creates the School Transparency and Reporting, or STAR, universal framework that offers clear and concise annual ratings to each school using a 1-5 star rating
  • Implementation of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, or CLASS, measures the quality of teacher-child interactions in early childhood development


  • Creates a college/career ready indicator beyond metrics of GPA, attendance and standardized exam results by considering community involvement, summer employment and extra-curricular activities.
  • Further engages students to give their perspective of the school performance via student surveys


  • Creates a three tier system of support with varying levels of funding and development, as well as comprehensive turnaround strategies for underperforming schools
  • Decreases the number of under-performing students in half by 2030


  • Creates an advisory panel comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators, students and businesses for implementation strategies
  • Establishes a baseline goal for an annual 5 percent reduction in nonproficiency

New Jersey

  • Mandates an 80 percent increase in language arts and math assessments for all student subgroups by 2030
  • Creates framework for a three level support system based on school district performance

New Mexico

  • Launches the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory, or STA, and the Secretary’s Student Advisory, SSA, to guide and monitor ESSA implementation, as well as advise on continuous process improvements
  • Establishes a parent & family outreach coordinator to assist parents and families in child academics

North Dakota

  • Expands its Principal Teacher Evaluation Support System, or PTESS, and focuses on a well-rounded curriculum promoting STEAM and physical education
  • Incorporates a “choice ready” plan to equip students with decisive options after graduation


  • Implements continuous process improvements to advance student equity, strengthen districts, community engagement and promoting a well-rounded curriculum.
  • Creates a framework for 40-40-20 goals; 40 percent of students obtain a bachelor’s degree, 40 percent obtain an associate degree and 20 percent earn a high school diploma


  • Creates a framework for Individualized Education Program, or IEP, to continually assess and improve student performance standards and curriculum delivery methods
  • Adopts an “occupational diploma” for students with disabilities


  • Employs a collaborative stakeholder curriculum approach and outcome oriented performance metrics
  • Promotes a “whole child” environment through a physical education accountability system