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Georgia unveils plan to meet new federal education law

OK, put on your comfy clothes, pour that cup of coffee and read this 94 pages from the Georgia Department of Education on its plan to meet the requirements of the new education law.

When you are done, tell us what you think. DOE is taking public comment so share your views with the agency as well.

The Every Student Succeeds Act replaces No Child Left Behind. ESSA was created on a premise of more flexibility and state control, although it still requires testing.

From my first glance of Georgia's plan, it appears the state is attempting to give districts more on-the-ground freedom and attach more weight to student performance beyond math and reading. The document references the "whole child."

“I deeply appreciate the involvement of many of Georgia’s teachers, parents, school and district representatives, and community members in the ESSA public feedback process,” said Superintendent Richard Woods. “I want to ask and encourage everyone who has already been involved to stay engaged with us as this work continues, and for anyone who has not yet been involved, I would ask you to be a part of the public review process moving forward. We can’t create a plan that serves students well unless we’re all working together.”

Here is the draft just released this afternoon for public review and input.

And here is what DOE said today:

Broadly, Georgia’s draft ESSA plan supports a common framework of improvement that places the whole child at the center, focusing and organizing the work of the Department and engaging new partners in the school improvement process. It moves Georgia’s accountability system beyond a focus on test scores alone, allowing a more holistic view of district and school performance. It takes a more personalized approach to educational goals and accountability, establishes ambitious but attainable goals for groups of students, while rewarding schools that move students academically from one level to the next. The plan supports the alignment of tools, resources, initiatives, programs, and efforts so they work in a more effective and efficient way to ultimately impact the classroom.

Georgia plans to submit its draft ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education in September 2017. An in-depth timeline is available at

The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in 2015, with bi-partisan support in Congress. ESSA grants states greater flexibility than its predecessor, No Child Left Behind, and entrusts them with the responsibility to develop their own state plans to support education. The statutory requirements of the law vary in specificity from issue to issue, with significant flexibility granted in some areas.

Last summer, the Georgia Department of Education convened groups of stakeholders – including classroom teachers, students, parents, school- and district-level leaders, higher-education representatives, business and industry, nonprofit and civic organizations, and communities – to guide the development of Georgia’s ESSA state plan.

Those groups relied directly on feedback from the public – gathered through seven public listening sessions held across the state, an in-depth survey, and social-media comment sessions – to shape Georgia’s ESSA plan. The GaDOE also maintained a dedicated email address for ESSA feedback and publicized it through website postings, social media, partnership with education and advocacy organizations, and through the in-person feedback sessions. This gave stakeholders an opportunity to provide open-ended feedback, engage in conversations, or request additional information. All feedback – through the in-person events, the survey, the email address and the social-media sessions – was collected, analyzed, and used to inform the development of Georgia’s state plan.

See the details: Georgia’s ESSA State Plan, with two-page summaries of Education of the Whole ChildAccountabilityAssessmentEducator and Leader DevelopmentFederal Programs to Support School Improvement.

More information.

Newsletter updates from Ga. DOE.


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.