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ESSA Updates

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015. ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. ESSA creates an important opportunity for DC to expand upon its efforts around school improvement, educator development and support, and sharing of transparent and comparable information about District of Columbia public schools. 

SBOE Approves Final #ESSA Accountability Plan

On March 22, 2017, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) voted to approve the final state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The state plan, drafted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) with significant impact from the State Board of Education, gives the District more flexibility in advancing educational excellence and provides assistance to schools so that each student has the opportunity for success.

The State Board’s work was instrumental in achieving this reduction in assessment focus. As a direct result of the State Board’s advocacy, this plan more heavily weights student growth over proficiency. This plan also provides a foundation to ensure schools are safe and welcoming and that schools provide students with a well-rounded education by committing to pilot a common school climate survey and additional measures for inclusion.

The SBOE will continue to work with OSSE to implement the plan and develop additional metrics related to a well-rounded education, high school growth, and school climate. The State Board remains committed to including these metrics as part of the state plan as soon as possible.

OSSE Releases Final Draft of State Plan 

On March 17, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released the final version of the complete draft state plan. The full version can be read below. On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, the State Board will hold a special public meeting at 5:30 pm in the Old Council Chambers at 441 4th Street NW. The State Board will vote on the approval of the final draft state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

OSSE Releases Summary of Responses to Public Engagement

On March 14, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released a summary of responses to the public engagement on the draft state plan.  The summary can be read below.  

The State Board Makes 10 Recommendations for Final Accountability Plan

Read the recommendations below. They reflect the consensus of the SBOE that the weight of test scores should be reduced and additional non-testing measures that encourage a well-rounded education be added. Additionally, they also recommend the establishment of task forces on School Climate/Well-Rounded Education and High School Growth Measures. These task forces would provide recommendations to SBOE and OSSE for inclusion in the accountability plan by April 2018. Further recommendations relate to the use of PARCC with English Language Learners. Finally, the SBOE agrees with OSSE that the accountability system be reviewed regularly to ensure that the system is providing the information our residents need. SBOE is recommending that that process be done jointly between OSSE and SBOE. 

Nearly 40 Residents Made Their Voice Heard on March 15th at the SBOE Monthly Public Meeting!

The DC State Board of Education (SBOE) held its monthly public meeting on March 15, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in the Old Council Chambers at 441 4th Street NW. The State Board continued its diligent work related to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). At this meeting, the SBOE heard feedback from District residents on the final accountability plan released to the public by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Each resident had three minutes to provide their input. Many residents lauded the 10 recomendations for changes on the draft accountability plan sent by the State Board to OSSE.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Community-Based Meetings in February 2017

Thoughout the month of February, the State Board of Education and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) co-hosted 9 community meetings in all eight wards of the District to provide information about ESSA and to solicit feedback on OSSE's initial draft of Washington, DC’s state education plan, to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by April 3, 2017. Thank you to the more than 300 community members, parents, students, and advocates who attended these meetings!  This feedback has been key in helping Board members ensure that this plan is right for our schools!

ESSA Updates

D.C. SBOE and OSSE are currently developing a new accountability system under ESSA that will meet the needs of D.C. students. ESSA implementation begins in the 2017-2018 school year. Working together, the SBOE and OSSE must decide what indicators of school quality should be included in the accountability system, goals for improvement in each category (for all students and each subgroup of students), and how to weight the various accountability components. 

OSSE produced a “straw man” draft meant to elicit comments. The SBOE responded with recommendations about what should be changed. We are specifically looking for feedback on three areas related to ESSA.

The Weight of Testing:  How much should test scores count in the school rating? The OSSE discussion draft suggests 80%; the SBOE response memo suggests it should be much lower. Overwhelmingly, parents and teachers echoed sentiments in their testimony that so much weight on testing has damaged education and has lead to a narrowing of the curriculum. There is pressure on schools to focus on teaching students who are close to the proficient cusp instead of those who score substantially higher or lower; a disincentive for schools to enroll challenging students, whose test scores typically grow more slowly; and, not enough attention to the non-academic aspects of education, including providing a nurturing, safe, challenging, engaging environment. Moving forward, parents and teachers want testing to be set at the lowest level allowed by law.  

The Weight of Growth (Individual Progress) in Relation to Proficiency (Achieving Set Standards):  Rather than only holding schools accountable for reaching specific proficiency levels, ESSA offers the opportunity for DC to rate schools based on the academic progress students achieve. In spirited testimony throughout the evening, there was a nearly universal call for increasing the emphasis on student progress and including a measure of growth in the new plan.

The OSSE straw man draft gives equal weight to proficiency and growth. The SBOE has written in its response that giving equal weight to proficiency and growth is “unfair in principle and unhelpful in practice. Schools that enroll lower scoring students—on average, students who are poorer, don’t speak English, and are in special education—have to be many times more effective than their counterparts to earn an equivalent rating…. In effect, under the current and currently proposed system, “when students begin their year at a low score, the school is in effect penalized for not raising the child multiple grade levels.

Safety, Engagement and Environment Indicators: The SBOE believes that it is important for all students, teachers and parents to feel welcome, safe, and engaged in their school—all qualities that research says directly influence achievement. This relates to many factors including facilities, school discipline, attendance, bullying, parent engagement, teacher turnover, and student reenrollment. Policy experts testified to the need for a climate survey that is research-based. The goal would be to measure the aspects of safety, engagement and environment that predict achievement. When we focus primarily on test scores, we lead schools to overly focus on test prep and the two tested subjects rather than a well-rounded education. 

SBOE Public Meeting Information on ESSA


During the March SBOE Public Meeting, the Board heard from three ESSA experts. Watch their discussion on best ESSA practices here

During the June SBOE Public Meeting, the Board heard testimony related to school quality and student success. Watch the discussion here

During the July SBOE Public Meeting, the Board heard testimony related to the potential impact of ESSA on vulnerable students. Watch the discussion here.

During the September SBOE Public Meeting, the Board heard testimony related to state leadership and implementation challenges. Watch the discussion here.

During the October SBOE Public Meeting, the Board heard testimony related to a Parent Summit that includes ESSA related sessions. Watch the discussion here.

During the November SBOE Public Meeting, we invited ALL interested members of the public to testify about the initial accountability strawman provided by OSSE and the SBOE response to that strawman. Watch the discussion here.

During the December SBOE Public Meeting, three ESSA policy experts, a charter school Vice President of Policy, and a Ward 5 charter school parent provided testimony to the Board. Watch the discussion here


During the January SBOE Public Meeting, the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) provided an overview of the major components of the consolidated statewide plan required by ESSA. In addition to school accountability, the consolidated plan includes sections on long-term goals, consultation and performance management, academic assessments, and supporting educators and students. Watch the discussion here

During the  February SBOE Public Meeting, the SBOE heard from two panels of policy experts regarding their views on the draft ESSA accountability plan. Watch the discussion here.

During the March SBOE Public Meeting, the SBOE again invited ALL interested members of the public to testify about the final accountability plan. Nearly 40 residents testified. Watch the discussion here

During the March Special Public Meeting, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) voted to approve the final state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Watch all of the State Board members provide comments on their vote here.

We Want to Hear From YOU!

Please share your thoughts on ESSA with us online by emailing !