Last month, the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations on accountability, state plans and data reporting for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act. Minnesota will submit their plan for the implementation of ESSA in September 2017.

ESSA is the newest version of the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It also replaces the No Child Left Behind Act that was enacted in 2002. ESSA focuses on the goal of preparing all students for success in college and careers.

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The regulations give states and districts the opportunity to use their planning and accountability processes to reimagine and redefine what a high-quality education means for their students.

States will need to identify schools that may need targeted support and improvement. Schools in this category may be consistently underperforming, have low high school graduation rates or have a chronically low-performing subgroup.

In order to allow enough time for states to identify schools in need of support, they will have until the 2018-19 school year for identification.

States are also required to submit a consolidated state plan. States must consult with a diverse representative of stakeholders during the design, development and implementation of the plan. The final regulations reinforce "ESSA's strong emphasis on equitable access for all students." States must describe their strategies to support and develop excellent educators in their plans.

The Minnesota Department of Education hosted a series of regional meetings in Duluth, Bemidji, Marshall, Rochester, St. Cloud and Burnsville to give the opportunity to stakeholders to learn about ESSA and share feedback. Some of the themes that came up through the meetings included the importance of professional development, asking communities what measure they want to focus on, defining the cause of gaps in access to high-quality teachers, English learners needing additional support, and making sure tests are being used for the right purpose.

The final regulations give states two submission dates for their plans: one in April 2017 and one in September 2017. According to MDE, Minnesota will submit their draft plan for September 2017 to allow additional stakeholder engagement and community outreach.

The Department of Education will release guidance on accountability, data and reporting, and state plans in the coming weeks. They will also host a series of webinars to support states and educators in the transition beginning in January 2017.

More information about ESSA and the complete final regulations can be found at