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Press Release

Monday, October 02, 2017

State Education Chiefs Share Leadership on ESSA

Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2017) -- Four state education chiefs today outlined how they are leading under the Every Student Succeeds Act, and shared the work underway in their states during a panel discussion hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Chiefs are leveraging the new federal law to improve outcomes for all students, and they are taking advantage of flexibility in the new law as they start the hard work of implementation.

CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich moderated a discussion with Kirsten Baesler, Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Dakota; Pedro Rivera, Secretary of Education, Pennsylvania; Dianna Wentzell, Commissioner of Education, Connecticut; and John White, State Superintendent of Education, Louisiana.

"North Dakota crafted our ESSA plan after extensive engagement with stakeholders in our state," said Kirsten Baesler, Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Dakota. "North Dakota ESSA plan stakeholders created a formula of accountability based on our state's values that struck a balance of high expectations of proficiency for all students and growth for all students. This plan reflects what's best for the students in North Dakota. We are excited to implement an accountability system that was written with supports and interventions to best meet the needs of students in our state and improve academic achievement for all students over time."

"Pennsylvania's ESSA State Plan represents nearly two years of collaboration and innovation. The Department engaged stakeholders across the state, soliciting valuable, meaningful feedback from organizations, lawmakers, educators, and the public; and that work continues," said Pedro Rivera, Secretary of Education, Pennsylvania. "Pillars of our plan include a commitment to supporting all students and supporting excellent educators. We are particularly proud of a few aspects of our plan, including broadened accountability measures that capture student engagement and career readiness, supporting STEM and Computer Science, and meeting the needs of the whole child through the community schools framework. ESSA presents a once-in-a-decade opportunity to increase equity and transform the lives of students in Pennsylvania, and we look forward to continuing this important work."

"Moving to a growth inclusive accountability system that was developed in consultation with our state level stakeholders and national experts has created a cultural change in Connecticut around accountability and our responsibilities to our students," said Dianna Wentzell, Commissioner of Education, Connecticut. "Under NCLB, disaggregation by subgroups frequently led to excuse making regarding results. Under ESSA, we are seeing that we have many schools and districts that are making huge gains for our students, for all students, and especially for our English learners, our students with disabilities, and our students living in poverty. This new accountability system demonstrates proof points that were obscured by the system we had developed under NCLB. What a game changer! Thank you for the ability to use the magnifying glass of transparent, comparable, growth-oriented student achievement data in our system."  

"For more than a year, the Louisiana Department of Education collaborated with thousands of educators, parents, advocates, and business and community leaders to create an improved education system that provides all students with equal access and opportunity to high-quality learning," said John White, Louisiana Superintendent of Education. "Among the highlights, Louisiana's plan raises fundamental expectations for what it means to earn an 'A' school rating; measures and rewards academic growth for all students; reduces state, district and school-based testing; invests in partnerships to improve the most struggling schools; and prepares the next generation of teachers under the mentorship of today's experts. Louisiana's plan calls for improvement for a generation of school children, and we look forward to making that improvement happen."  


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.