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January 17, 2018
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



U.S. Department of Education Approves New York State's Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

Plan Emphasizes Fostering Equity in Education for All Students and Expands Measures for School Accountability & Student Success

ESSA Think Tank, Stakeholders & Public Comment Helps Shape Plan

Implementation of plan to begin Spring 2018

Fact Sheets for ParentsEducators, and School Board Members Available

The United States Department of Education (USDE) approved New York’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today. The Board of Regents approved the plan at its September 2017 meeting, and the plan was submitted to the USDE on September 17, 2017 for review. Approval of this plan by USDE ensures that New York will continue to receive approximately $1.6 billion annually in funding from the Federal government to support elementary and secondary education in New York state schools.

“Through a tremendous amount of effort and collaboration, New York State developed an ESSA plan that focuses on bringing greater equity to education and on educating the whole child,” Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “I would like to thank all of the stakeholders—superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, community members and thought partners including Linda Darling-Hammond and Scott Marion – who helped shape New York’s path forward in education through this plan. 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.”

“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,” Commissioner Elia said. “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 ESSA plan emphasizes fostering equity in education for New York’s students; expands measures for school support and accountability and student success; and requires school-level improvement plans for the lowest performing schools overall, as well as schools with the lowest performance for certain student populations. The plan also includes strategies for supporting the professional growth of educators and ensuring that all students, including English language learners/Multilingual learners, immigrant students, migratory youth, homeless youth, and neglected and delinquent youth, have access to a well-rounded, culturally responsive education that supports students’ academic and social-emotional development.

The Department will present the highlights of the approved plan and the revisions made in response to USDE feedback to the Board of Regents at its January 2018 meeting. The final approved ESSA plan as well as a track changes version of the plan are posted on the Department’s ESSA webpage.

Revisions to the Draft Plan

As a result of feedback from USDE that the Department received on the draft plan submitted in September, the Department provided a number of clarifications and additions that are reflected in the approved plan. The most significant changes to the plan include:

  • Regents examination 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 accountability measure for English proficiency by English language learners now better accounts for the fact that the likelihood of students making annual growth varies based upon a student’s prior level of English proficiency and years of receiving services;
  • 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;
  • End goals, long-term goals and measures of interim progress are included for the Chronic Absenteeism and College, Career, and Civic Readiness measures;
  • The process for identifying schools for “Additional Targeted Support” has been revised to make clear that any Targeted Support and Assistance School that has a subgroup of students (i.e., a racial/ethnic group, low-income students, English language learners or students with disabilities) performing at a level that would have caused a school to be identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement if the all students group had performed at this level will result in the school being identified for “Additional Targeted Support”;
  • As directed by USDE, a number of accountability measures have been reclassified. Science at the elementary and middle school levels, which had been classified as an Academic Achievement Indicator, has now been reclassified as “another academic indicator.” Science and social studies at the high school level, which had been classified as Academic Achievement Indicators, have now been reclassified as Measures of School Quality and Student Success. In addition, the measuring of student performance in English language arts, mathematics and science based on the results for continuously enrolled students has been reclassified as “another academic indicator” rather than an Academic Achievement Indicator. As a consequence of these changes, a new Composite Index has been created so that these indicators can be combined into the Decision Tables that are used to make Accountability Decision; 
  • The goals for facilities serving neglected and delinquent youth have been revised to focus on gains in academic achievement and graduation rate.

Waiver Requests

  • Simultaneous with the submission of New York’s ESSA plan, the Department also submitted three requests for waivers from the provisions of ESSA:
  • To allow middle school students who take Regents exams to not have to also take grade level exams in math and science. USDE approved this waiver.
  • To not hold schools accountable for the performance in English language arts of newly arrived English language learners until those students have taken two administrations of the ELA exam. USDE did not approve this waiver. 
  • To allow a small group of students with severe disabilities to take an instructional level examination in ELA or math rather than the grade level examination. USDE did not approve this waiver. 

Stakeholder Engagement

In developing the plan, NYSED engaged diverse groups of stakeholders to solicit recommendations on how to craft an ESSA plan that best meets the needs of the state’s students, schools and communities. In support of these efforts, NYSED established an ESSA Think Tank with representatives from more than 100 organizations, including district leaders, teachers, parents, and community members. The Department also consulted with national education experts regarding ESSA, including Linda Darling-Hammond (Learning Policy Institute) and Scott F. Marion (National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment).

In addition, NYSED held more than 120 fall and winter regional in-person meetings across the state in coordination with the state’s 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and the superintendents of the state’s five largest City School 

Districts, which were attended by more than 4,000 students, parents, teachers, school and district leaders, school board members, and other stakeholders.

The Department received more than 800 written comments and 270 verbal comments at the meetings during the public comment period. In addition to hosting 13 public hearings on the plan from May 11 through June 16, NYSED also held more than 120 stakeholder and public meetings between October 2016 and May 2017 to gather input to help inform the development of the draft plan.

Next Steps

Later this school year, the Department will propose amendments to Commissioner’s Regulations to conform them to New York’s ESSA plan. The Board of Regents and Department will continue to work with the Executive and the Legislature in regard to proposals that the Board of Regents has put forward for funding to support implementation of the plan. Department staff will also engage in dialogue with the Executive and the Legislature regarding potential legislative amendments to better align State Education law with the provisions of ESSA.

The Department will continue its work with district and school leaders, teachers and other educators and other stakeholder groups to implement the ESSA plan. The Department will continue to create explanatory materials for stakeholders, revise the application that districts will use to apply for funding under ESSA, and prepare to implement the new accountability system to identify schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement and Targeted Support and Improvement based on 2017-18 school year results.

The Department is in the process of developing various guidance documents for school districts on implementing the ESSA plan. As each piece of guidance is completed, it will be shared with the field and posted on the Department’s website on a soon-to-be-created “Implement ESSA: Guidance for Schools” webpage. In addition, as warranted, the Department will create and provide webinar materials to help further explain changes to guidance documents and school requirements.   

For the most up-to-date information on New York’s ESSA plan and implementation, visit the Department’s ESSA webpage, including a tracked changes version of the ESSA plan from the September 2017 version that was submitted to USDE.  USDE plans to post its news release on its website today.