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

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

Signed in to law in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. 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 Midwestern 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 Midwestern state on their activities.


The Illinois State Board of Education has updated information on ESSA and Illinois’ efforts.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The board of education hosted an ESSA “Listening Tour,” with eleven sessions, to gather insights from educators and stakeholders in the community. They published a public report of their findings online. Almost 500 people participated, according to the report.
  • Working Group: No information is available online about the composition or activities of a task force or committee making recommendations for the drafting of the Illinois ESSA plan.


On its website, the Indiana Department of Education has published an overview of its process for creating a state plan and ESSA resources. The department expects to have a draft of the state plan by the beginning of 2017.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: On June 27, 201?, the department hosted an informational event for all local superintendents to learn more about ESSA. All of the presentation materials are published online. There will be a “listening tour” comprised of nine sessions across the state in September and October. The department has solicited online feedback from the public, and has prepared side-by-side comparison resources on ESSA and the previous No Child Left Behind law.
  • Working Group: The Department of Education will work with educators across Indiana to develop plans for ESSA implementation, but no additional details are available at this time on that process.


The Iowa Department of Education has a multitude of resources online, including FAQs and transition planning materials.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The Department of Education has published FAQs addressing detailed transition questions.
  • Working Group: The Department of Education will have a working group, but details of its membership and meeting schedule are not listed online.


The Kansas Department of Education has published resources, including links to federal materials, on its website.

  • Community & Stakeholder Engagement: The Department of Education is calling for questions from the public to create a “frequently asked questions” document.
  • Working Group: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act Advisory Council will act as the “umbrella” for efforts to create a state plan. It has created subcommittees to work through particular aspects of the ESSA.


Michigan’s ESSA implementation will support the state goal to be “Top 10 in 10 years” in education. The Department of Education has published detailed documents on its approach online. Michigan is projecting its plan will be ready for submission for federal review by the end of 2016.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The Michigan Department of Education is publishing a newsletter, beginning June 2016, to keep the public up-to-date on its efforts.  Stakeholders, including parents and community members, will engage in “listening tours” during July and October. The Department of Education is soliciting volunteers for virtual focus groups with parents and teachers.
  • Working Group: The state has outlined strategic goals and guiding principles for its ESSA implementation. It also has established an External ESSA Advisory Committee, Internal ESSA Leadership Team and Tactical Review Committee, to work alongside existing legislative and executive groups to create the state plan, to be drafted by October 2016.


The Minnesota Department of Education has published materials online about its ESSA efforts, including side-by-side comparisons of ESSA with previous federal legislation.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The commissioner is hosting a public meeting July 20 to discuss its vision, process, and opportunities for involvement in relation to ESSA.
  • Working Group: In April and May of 2016, the Department of Education hosted ten sessions to communicate requirements and gain stakeholder input for the implementation of ESSA in Minnesota. All of the materials have been shared online.


The Nebraska Department of Education has published limited materials online about its efforts in regards to ESSA. The department has a session devoted to this topic in an upcoming “Administrator Days” conference in July 2016.

North Dakota      

The Department of Public Instruction has published all of its materials online, including meeting minutes and resources.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: North Dakota hosted ESSA regional workshops in April, including general informational sessions and breakout sessions on specific subtopics. The state also hosted two virtual sessions in January and February 2016.
  • Working Group: North Dakota has created an ESSA Planning Committee, which first met May 17. The committee will meet again throughout the summer, and is comprised of 43 educators, legislators, parents, and community stakeholders.


The state’s Department of Education houses all information about its upcoming meetings, webinars, and resources online. Ohio plans to make a draft state plan available to the public by the end of 2016.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: Interested parties can participate in webinars hosted by the Department of Education on specific ESSA topics, such as performance indicators and funding, and sign up for electronic updates. There will be 12 webinars, 10 of which are scheduled between July 27 and September 30, 2016.
  • Working Group: Ohio is hosting 10 stakeholder meetings around the state between August 31 and October 6, 2016.

South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Education has created a website to house ESSA updates and resources.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The Department of Education has published an online summary of the ESSA legislation with South Dakota-specific comments.
  • Working Group: South Dakota has established four work groups that are meeting over the summer to focus on four key areas—accountability, school improvement, educator effectiveness and English-language learners.


The state’s Department of Public Instruction has published communications about ESSA on its website for the public and educators.

  • Community & Educator Engagement: The state has hosted public listening sessions around the state (June 28, June 30, July 27), with two virtual sessions planned in August. The Department published a January letter to district administrators summarizing ESSA changes.
  • Working Group: The Department of Public Instruction has established an “Equity in ESSA Stakeholder Council meeting for the first time on.

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