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Aurora Institute

US Department of Education Begins Transition to ESSA

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Susan Gentz

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Harness Opportunities in ESSA

Now that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is signed into law, the next step is the United States Department of Education (ED) issuing guidance and regulations. (For more on what’s included in ESSA, click here.) ED has started the process by asking for comments from the general public regarding Title I programs. As President Obama stated while signing the bill, “the law is only as good as its implementation.”

ESSA shifts more authority back to the states for assessment, accountability, and use of funding. The shift increases flexibility and creates significant opportunities for states and districts to redesign K-12 education around student learning. However, flexibility also comes with risks of regression, and could result in policies that do not support student-centered learning or address equity appropriately. ED is now requesting feedback from the public, providing an opportunity to ensure that the newly granted flexibility is used in a way to better support all learners.

Federal Updates

ED sent a Dear Colleague letter to State Chiefs that provides preliminary information on:

Next steps: The handoff between NCLB and ESSA

In the coming months, ED will conduct a careful review of the work in which the states are currently engaged, provide ongoing guidance to support schools, districts and states in the transition to ESSA, and establish clear expectations regarding: Title I assessment peer review; annual measurable objectives (AMOs) and annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs) for school years 2014–2015 and 2015–2016; conditions and other related requirements under ESEA flexibility.

Waivers previously granted through ESEA flexibility remain effective through August 1, 2016.  ED expects each state that is currently approved to implement ESEA flexibility to continue to meet all ESEA flexibility principles during the 2015–16 school year.

For more information, visit or e-mail [email protected].

ESSA request for information and public feedback

The Secretary invites advice and recommendations from state and local education administrators, parents, teachers and teacher organizations, principals, charter school leaders, paraprofessionals, members of local boards of education, civil rights and other organizations representing the interests of students (including historically underserved students), representatives of the business community, and other organizations involved with the implementation and operation of Title I programs. ED will hold two additional regional meetings to solicit feedback. Both meetings will be held prior to the commenting period deadline.

To submit comments:

  • Written comments are due on or before January 21, 2016.
  • Regional meetings will be held on two separate occasions: January 11, 2016, at the U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC.; and January 19, 2016, at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Carnesale Commons, Los Angeles, CA.
  • If you would like to present comments at the regional meetings, you must register by sending an email to [email protected] no later than 5:00 p.m. local time on January 5, 2016, for the Washington, DC meeting, and no later than 5:00 p.m. local time on January 12, 2016, for the Los Angeles meeting.
  • For more information and to submit your comments, visit:

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