The state is launching a website to help schools with implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act

New York state's plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Approval of the plan, submitted by the state Board of Regents in September, ensures the state continues to receive $1.6 billion annually in federal funding to support elementary and secondary education in New York state schools, according to a release by the state Department of Education.

“Through a tremendous amount of effort and collaboration, New York state developed an ESSA plan that focuses on bringing greater equity to education and educating the whole child,” says Chancellor Betsy A. Rosa with the Board of Regents. “While USDE has approved our vision, going forward, we will continue to evaluate our plan and revise it as appropriate to ensure we remain focused on promoting equity and achieving success for all children.”

A number of changes were made to the draft plan based on feedback from the Department of Education (USDE). For instance, Regents exam results for middle school students will be credited in the elementary and middle school accountability system, using the same performance levels as those used for high school students.

The College, Career and Civic Readiness Index incorporates the performance of students with severe disabilities who participate in the New York State Alternate Achievement Assessments.

As directed by USDE, a number of accountability measures have been reclassified and the goals for facilities serving neglected and delinquent youth have been revised to focus on gains in academic achievement and graduation rates.

The state had requested three waivers, two of which were denied.

Approved is a waiver that allows middle school students taking Regents exams to forego grade level math and science exams.

A request to not hold schools accountable for the performance in English language arts of newly arrived English language learners until their third year in their new school was denied by USDE, as was permission to allow a small group of students with severe disabilities to take an instructional level exam in ELA or math instead of the grade-level exam. 

“New York’s ESSA plan reflects more than a year of collaboration with a comprehensive group of stakeholders to develop an inclusive plan that ensures our core focus is on promoting equity and increasing the success of all students,” says state Department of Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “Our plan includes new accountability components that go beyond test scores and establishes a more well-rounded educational system. We are pleased that USDE has approved the plan so that we can accelerate our efforts to implement these initiatives that are critical for educating students across the state.”

The department is in the process of developing various guidance documents for school districts on implementing the ESSA plan, which will be shared on a new “Implement ESSA: Guidance for Schools” webpage when it launches in the near future.

The department will also create and provide materials to help further explain changes to guidance documents and school requirements.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos noted the plan met the requirements of the law, which she said allows states more flexibility in how they deliver education to students with each crafting a plan it feels will best offer educational opportunities to meet the needs of their state and students.

DeVos said New York's plan incentivizes districts to increase opportunities for all high school students to engage in advanced coursework; and helps districts address inequities in access to effective teachers by strengthening mentoring and induction programs, targeting professional development or improving career ladders.

"This plan should not be seen as a ceiling, but as a foundation upon which New York can improve education for its students,” DeVos says.


ESSA at a glance 

What is ESSA: The Every Student Succeeds Act is a federal law outlining how states can use federal money to support public schools. New York submitted its proposed plan in September for the approximately $1.6 billion it annually receives under ESSA.

Why does it matter: New York state is committed to ensuring all students succeed and thrive in school, no matter who there are, where they live, where they go to school or where they come from. Since fall 2016, the state has sought feedback to design a plan that advances equity, access and opportunity for all students.

What you need to know: ESSA, approved in 2015, replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and shifted accountability to the states. Highlights and important elements of ESSA and New York's plan may be found on the state and federal websites.