U.S. Department of Education Approves North Carolina’s ESSA School Plan


The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction announced that the U.S. Department of Education has approved the state’s plan to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In development for more than a year, the plan is intended to guide the state’s continuing efforts to improve the quality of all schools and the educational outcomes of all students while closing gaps in achievement among them.

ESSA became law in December 2015, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act. ESSA requires federal review and approval of each state’s consolidated plan, which details how states will use federal funds to advance their goals for students and schools.

Underpinning North Carolina’s plan is its “theory of action,” which aims to promote new strategies that translate into emerging initiatives. Once shown to improve outcomes for students, such promising practices will be scaled and replicated into proven programs across the state. By continuously innovating and improving at each step, North Carolina will create adaptive environments for personalized, digital-age learning.

“Our ESSA plan is consistent with our efforts to transform our education system to allow every student to follow the path to success that they decide best fits them,” said North Carolina State Superintendent Mark Johnson. “We are changing our industrial-age practices of providing the same inputs and opportunities to all and moving to digital-age practices in which all students and educators have access to individualized learning experiences.”

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), N.C. Department of Public Instruction has engaged numerous stakeholders in the development of its plan to implement the requirements of the law beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

The plan calls for the state to support individualized instruction and learning for both students and educators and continues to explore and promote emerging initiatives for personalized learning. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides the state with this opportunity via the commitment in the plan to continuous innovation for students and educators.

“Through the implementation of its ‘theory of action,’ ” the state’s ESSA plan explains, “North Carolina will prepare every student ready to follow their own path to success. North Carolina’s plan, along with its accountability model in response to the Every Student Succeeds Act, describes the long-term goals and interim progress measures that will be used to monitor how successful the state is in accomplishing its goals. The emerging initiatives, promising practices, and proven programs within the ESSA plan will continue to provide North Carolina students with adaptive environments for personalized learning.”

The state’s plan includes these key elements:
• Provides a concise statement of the innovation the state expects for students, including using adaptive environments, personalized learning, and empowered educators.
• Establishes 10-year goals for student performance using end-of-grade and end-of-course exams and goals for closing achievement gaps
• Continues the School Performance Grades model, in which schools earn a A-F grades based on proficiency measures and student-growth targets.

See the state’s complete ESSA plan here.