You are here

ESSA Blog Banner

Summary of Changes to Title III

By Colleen Brooks, Title III EL Specialist, ESEA Programs Office
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - 3:49pm

While many program requirements and allowable activities remain the same under Title III in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as described in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), ESSA has restructured portions of the entire statute to improve upon and ensure equitable supports and opportunities for English learners (ELs).  One of the most significant changes in Title III under ESSA centers on the move of EL accountability, Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs), from Title III to the Title I State Plan1.  This change maintains EL accountability for making progress towards attaining English proficiency, but places the measure and accountability within the larger state plan instead of a separate accountability system. In an effort to ensure an orderly transition from NCLB to ESSA, the U.S. Department of Education will no longer require states to hold districts accountable for meeting the AMAOs for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years2.  During the transition, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) will be required to publish and make public the results of the ACCESS for ELLs assessment by district, including the number of students at each proficiency level, as well as students attaining proficiency based on the ELP assessment cut-point established by CDE. (CDE has historically reported this information- and will continue to do so.)  In addition, Title III grantees on Improvement, based on 2013-2014 AMAOs, must continue to implement their improvement plan, submitted to and approved by CDE, through the 2016-2017 school year3.  For more details surrounding the changes to accountability for ELs under ESSA, please review

While state and federal laws already require states to establish guidance on identifying and exiting ELs from programs, a new Title III provision included in ESSA requires states to establish and implement standardized, statewide entrance and exit criteria for EL students.  CDE will work with stakeholders across Colorado to develop identification and exit criteria that will meet ESSA’s state plan requirements.

ESSA directly addresses parent, family, and community engagement activities as a new program requirement; Title III grantees were previously required to describe these activities in their annual Consolidated Application under NCLB - a requirement that will also be carried forward under ESSA.  ESSA also specifically authorizes additional activities in which districts may use their grant funds. These activities include developing and implementing effective core programming for preschools serving ELs, as well as offering early college high school or dual/concurrent enrollment programs/courses designed to help ELs achieve in postsecondary education.  

Finally, ESSA requires districts to provide reports on the activities conducted and children served with Title III funds to CDE.  Many of the reporting requirements are collected in current CDE data collections. CDE will meet with stakeholders to discuss and develop the most secure and feasible platforms to report the following data:

  • a description of the programs and activities conducted during the preceding fiscal year (must include how the programs and activities supplemented State and/or local funds); and,
  • the number and percentage of ELs in the programs and activities-
    1. making progress toward achieving English language proficiency,
    2. attaining English language proficiency,
    3. exiting based on attainment of English language proficiency,
    4. meeting challenging State academic standards for each of the four years after they are no longer receiving services under Title III, and
    5. not attaining English language proficiency within five years of initial classification.

Districts must report sections a) and d) in the aggregate and disaggregated, at a minimum, by ELs with a disability. 

A webinar dedicated to Title III program requirements and updates impacting Title III as a result of ESSA is scheduled for May 26, 2016.  For more information about the webinar and other Title III related matters, please visit


1 Every Student Succeeds Act, § 1111(c)(4)(B)(iv)

2 U.S. Department of Education, Dear Colleague Letter on the Transition to ESSA (December 18, 2015)

3 U.S. Department of Education, ESSA Dear Colleague Letter (January 28, 2016)