The Every Student Succeeds Act: What's Going on in the Eastern States?

The Every Student Succeeds Act: A Profile on The Council of State Governments Eastern Region States

Signed in to law in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. The ESSA emphasizes college and career readiness, accountability, scaling back assessments, increasing access to preschool and the important role state and local communities play in making their schools successful. ESSA federal funding acts as an incentives package for innovation in America’s school systems.

Implementation Timeline

While the final regulations are still taking shape, many states have formed working groups, task forces and committees to plan for the implementation of ESSA. Below are the broad strokes of the federal timeline for carrying out the provisions of the Act.

  • August 1, 2016: Comments for notice of proposed rulemaking due for the U.S. Department of Education’s review.
  • October 2016: Final regulations are published and will go into effect.
  • Spring 2017: Final state plans submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • July 1, 2017: Changes to formula programs go into effect.
  • 2017-2018 School Year: Remaining ESSA provisions go into effect.

For more information about ESSA: The White House Fact Sheet and the U.S. Department of Education’s chart comparing accountability for NCLB and ESSA are good resources.

Recent and Upcoming Activities in Eastern States

As soon as the law was signed in December, the states sprung into action making plans for its implementation. Below is a summary of publicly available information from each Eastern state on their activities.


In March 2016, the state started using the Next Generation Accountability System, which they have reported “aligns well with ESSA.”

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The Department of Education hosted a public webinar series throughout the summer and into the fall for educators.
  • Working Group: No information was available online.


The Department of Education has published its ESSA updates on a dedicated webpage, which includes an e-mail address for the public to communicate questions and comments. The state is leveraging existing organizational structures to develop their ESSA implementation plans.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: Delaware began its stakeholder meetings in July, and Community Conversations will begin in August 2016 at locations around the state.
  • Working Group: Discussion Groups, which will weigh in on technical topics, consist of nominated participants and will meet throughout the fall. Delaware plans to have finished the first draft of its state plan by October 2016, with a second draft out in December.


The Department of Education is using its website to amass ESSA feedback and information for the public.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: Maine has created an online survey for stakeholders to weigh in on ESSA implementation.
  • Working Group: No information was available online.


The Department of Education has published stakeholder materials online as it develops its plans.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: Maryland
  • Working Group: The DOE has created a Stakeholder Committee, comprised of educators from all levels, businesspeople, public servants, parents, and community members. The group started its bimonthly meetings in March to provide guidance on state policy moving forward.


The Board of Elementary and Secondary School received a briefing on ESSA timelines in March.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: Stakeholder engagement plans will be finalized this summer.
  • Working Group: The Board will start planning this summer, with the finalized proposed plans rolled out by the end of the year.

New Jersey

The Department of Education has created a resources page to house its timelines and supporting documents for the public, which includes information for districts as they transition. There’s also a dedicated ESSA e-mail address for questions or comments.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The DOE has surveyed almost 5,000 people to gather feedback on what “school communities want to know about their public schools.” They will be hosting three listening sessions across the state in September.
  • Working Group: The DOE will convene groups to cover specific policy questions, work with existing advisories, schedule focus groups with parents and educators, and solicit feedback electronically on communication as they create their state plan.

New Hampshire

The Department of Education has published a webpage for ESSA communications, which includes meeting listings for advisory groups.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The DOE is planning to host multiple public sessions in the fall and winter as the state plan takes shape to solicit feedback. They also have plans to deploy a public online survey.
  • Working Group: New Hampshire has established advisory teams for accountability, school support and improvement, early childhood, educator equity, English learner, and funding. These groups began meeting in spring 2016 and will continue to convene monthly through the winter to advise.

New York

The Education Department has formulated guiding principles for its state plan creation and implementation.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: With the Board of Regents’ approval, the guiding principles will be made available for public comment.
  • Working Group: The state has put together an ESSA Think Tank, which includes a multitude of stakeholder organizations, to provide policy recommendations.


The Department of Education has put together a website with a detailed description of their vision for implementation.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The Department, with its partner CCSSO, will be hosting a series of meetings with stakeholders focusing on accountability, assessment, educator certification, and educator evaluation. The first session was in April.
  • Working Group: The Department has created a working group. They plan to release a stakeholder report October 18, with additional engagement activities in the spring and summer of 2017.

Rhode Island

The Department of Education is publishing its meeting materials and resources online.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: Rhode Island has created a Committee of Practitioners, which will meet monthly to provide guidance on the state plan development.
  • Working Group: The Department of Education will complete the state plan with guidance from its Committee of Practitioners.


Vermont has created a website to house its plan, decision points, ways to get involved, and more.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The Department has created a newsletter and has open meetings for community members. They have published decision points, including a schedule for when they will be discussed in these public sessions. They also publish the decisions online.
  • Working Group: The Agency will formulate a plan, with a completion goal of January 15, 2017.


For more information contact Elizabeth Whitehouse, director of education and workforce, at The Council of State Governments: or 859-457-6400.