California State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst.
California State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved California’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.
“Given the differences between federal and state law, the plan approved by Secretary DeVos today represents the best possible outcome of our discussions with U.S. Department of Education staff,” Kirst said. “California is a national leader in supporting students with extra needs, providing local control over spending, encouraging community participation in schools, and releasing critical information on measures that indicate student success. Our ESSA plan allows that work to continue.”
Torlakson agreed: “California has the most ambitious plan in the nation to give additional resources to students with the greatest needs as we prepare all students for college and 21st century careers. The ESSA plan approved today will support those efforts.”
Signed by President Obama in 2015, ESSA requires every state that receives federal money for low-income students and English learners to submit and receive approval of a plan for managing and using the funds.
ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and differs from its predecessor by giving states more flexibility to use accountability systems that reflect local values and goals.
California’s accountability system is focused on improving classroom learning for all students and especially those that need extra help in achieving success.
The state’s new California School Dashboard evaluates schools and districts on multiple data points and by performance of student groups such as homeless children, foster youth, and students with disabilities.
California’s focus is on supporting districts—rather than individual schools—and differs from the federal model. But through several weeks of negotiations, a compromise was reached that allows the state to continue working with districts, recognizing that the challenges of individual schools are often related to wider systemic problems.
California receives $1.8 billion in Title I funds through ESSA. The funds represent about 2 percent of California’s total $78 billion K–12 budget, which includes $10.1 billion in resources for low-income students, foster youth, and English learners through the groundbreaking Local Control Funding Formula.
Torlakson thanked staff for their hard work, noting that California took the initiative to travel to Washington, D.C. in both February and March to meet with members of Congress, federal Department of Education staff, and Secretary Betsy DeVos. “We disagreed with the federal government on some issues and interpretations of federal laws,” he said. “But we are pleased that the federal government has approved our plan.”
California’s ESSA plan was developed over two years with input from thousands of Californians. More on ESSA can be found on the CDE ESSA web page.