As promised, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) issued an updated template for ESSA State Plans. The document “Revised State Template for the Consolidated State Plan” was posted on March 13, 2017. The updated template follows closely on the heels of the U.S. Senate vote to rescind the regulations for Accountability and State Plans.
Some of the significant changes include:
- The old template was organized according to topics or themes and the new template is organized by ESSA title programs
- Including information regarding the required consultation with education stakeholders is now optional. The consultation with stakeholders still needs to take place, however, only information related to consultation with the Governor or appropriate officials from the Governor’s office must be included
- The new template removes requirements found in the regulations that are not specified in ESSA statute. This includes the removal of some significant items, such as:
- The requirement for an explanation when using an n-size larger than 30 for accountability determinations (n-size is the number of students needed in a subgroup in order to make an accountability determination)
- The inclusion of exit criteria in the Title III required standardized statewide entrance and exit procedures
- In establishing student-level targets for English Learners, which are used to set interim measures of progress, there is no mention of the inclusion of any other student characteristics (in addition to English proficiency level) that the State takes into account (i.e., time in language instruction programs, grade level, age, Native language proficiency level, or limited or interrupted formal education). NOTE: This does not mean that these cannot be included. Statute does not prohibit these things, so States can include them if they would like
The updated template reiterates the submission dates of April 3rd and September 18th, including the parameter that any ESSA State Plan received after April 3rd, but on or before September 18th, will be considered to be submitted on September 18th.
One other impact of updating the ESSA State Plan template relates to the requirement for the Governor of each State to review their State’s ESSA State Plan, and sign off on that plan (or not). The mandatory review period is 30 days prior to submission. Given that the April 3rd ESSA State Plan submission date is less than 30 days from the issuance of this updated ESSA State Plan template, it may not be possible to meet that deadline for a number of States. A fact sheet issued along with the updated ESSA State Plan template addresses this issue by allowing for a submission date later than April 3rd for the April 3rd submission. Here is the relevant text from the factsheet:
“The Department recognizes, however, that in some States the Governor may not have time to complete his or her full 30-day review by April 3, 2017. Therefore, to be considered during the spring peer review window a SEA, in this case, must submit its plan to the Governor for review by at least April 3, 2017 and subsequently submit its plan to the Department no later than the end of the 30 day review period or May 3, 2017, whichever is earlier.”
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