Your State ESSA Plan is Approved – Now What?

The US Department of Education has approved thirty-four state ESSA Plans and is wrapping up its review of the remaining 17 state plans this winter. Before too long every state will have an approved ESSA plan, and before the end of the year each state will be issuing its first ESSA-era report cards using data from this 2017-18 school year.

Mission accomplished, ESSA transition finished, right? Not even close.

Now we must turn in earnest to implementation. For authorizers this means making sure you can continue your oversight and accountability responsibilities in a fair and consistent manner during the transition period and once new ESSA systems are in place.

So what should an authorizer do now that the State ESSA Plan is approved? Five places to start:

1. Talk With Other Authorizers in Your State!

Spoiler alert! — They all have to go through this transition too. Share tips and strategies.  

2. Do an Impact Assessment

Use our ESSA Transition Guide to determine what metrics will be impacted, and create a plan to address the change. Did your transition work uncover a data gap? Use this guide and flowchart to get you through it. See this sample to help you talk with your schools about the upcoming change.

3. Get Your Authorizer Toolbox Ready

For help with transitions use our guides on updating contracts and performance frameworks.

4. Monitor the Guidance Coming From Your SEA on the ESSA Transition

If your state report card and accountability systems are undergoing big changes, your state is probably already issuing guidance or drafting regulations to help LEAs prepare for the change. Get a copy of this guidance and review it. If the SEA is drafting it now, ask to review it and offer comments. Don’t be shy about asking your SEA for what you need especially for the transition to new metrics.

5. Review Your State Charter Law to Make Sure it is Up to Date. 

Use our guide on “Keeping State Charter Law Up to Date.” Did you find something that needs to be changed? Let your SEA know ASAP, and contact Veronica Brooks-Uy, Director of Policy at [email protected]

Depending on the degree of change your state is making, this may seem like a big deal or just another Tuesday. Our ESSA for Authorizers resources are here to help!

PDF Download of “Your State Plan is Approved”


Adapting to ESSA Data Systems: Working With the “Transition Generation”

The signing of ESSA into law in December 2015 kicked off a chain of dominoes that ripples through many different state and authorizer data systems for years to come. We call this the Transition Generation: the generation of charter contracts issued between 2011 and 2018 that will be touched by the ESSA transition.

Remember, the ESSA Transition does not end until all charter schools in operation today are fully transitioned to ESSA-based metrics—meaning they are no longer using any retired metrics from the NCLB-era. Depending on your charter portfolio, your state charter law, and your charter term length, your ESSA transition may not be fully behind you until as late as the 2022-23 school year.

Your charter contract will fall into one of the following Transition Generation groups:

  • Group 1: Data Gaps

  • Group 2: Two Metrics

  • Group 3: New Metrics

Use the resource below to help identify what Transition Generation your charter schools are in, possible characteristics of their performance data, and potential impacts on authorizer procedures and decisions. To get started, use the first school year of the current charter contract to determine what group your contract falls in:

Group 1: Charter Contract Contains Data Gaps

Previously discussed in our ESSA for Authorizers resource, “Dealing with Data Gaps.”

Group 2: Charter Contract Contains Two Metrics

These charters have performance data from both the NCLB and ESSA eras. As a result:


  • Some performance data may be missing from Years 1, 2, and/or 3 of the charter, described in our Data Gap resource.
  • State performance metrics may change midway through the charter term, before the charter school is renewed.

Authorizer Impact

  • You may face Data Gaps during the renewal process. This may present additional challenges when making a high stakes renewal decision. See our resource on Dealing with Data Gaps.
  • You may need to modify your performance tools to adjust to new ESSA data systems. See our resources on performance a toolbox audit.

Group 3: Charter Contract with New Metrics

 The charter uses performance data from the ESSA era. However, as a result of the ESSA approval timeline, the nature of those metrics may have been in flux when the charter contract was written. As a result:


  • A performance metric or performance goal may have been tentative or “provisionally approved” when the contract was executed.
  • It may be necessary to examine the new metrics and goals in future years, to make sure the new metrics are functioning as intended.

 Authorizer Impact

  • You may need to modify your performance tools quickly to adjust them to new ESSA data systems. See our resources on performing a toolbox audit.
A Closer Look at Contracts in the Transition Generation