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Colorado's ESSA State Plan 

In December of 2015, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law. The title of the reauthorized legislation, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The passage of ESSA provides a much anticipated opportunity to improve outcomes for all students and gives states more flexibility and decision-making power at the local level. This law also requires states to develop plans that address standards, assessments, school and district accountability and special help for struggling schools. You can read the Every Student Succeeds Act here.

As part of ESSA, each state had to conduct significant outreach to collect input for their plans. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) engaged with thousands of Coloradans in the development of the plan through 2016 and the early part of 2017. This process provided Coloradans a chance to closely examine the state’s education system, adjust some priorities and gather feedback about what is working and what should be changed. Please visit our Hub and Spoke Committees pages and the ESSA Feedback page to read about the process and comments received throughout stakeholder engagement. CDE also  releases an overview of Colorado’s ESSA state plan. This ESSA summary report is intended to provide a clear explanation of the issues addressed in Colorado’s plan.

On May 9, 2017, CDE submitted Colorado’s ESSA state plan and went through a number of revisions as state officials worked with federal reviewers to clarify how the state plans met with ESSA’s statutory requirements. Colorado's state plan was approved by USDE on May 7, 2018.

News and Updates


Public Comment Opportunity: Request for Waiver from Federal Accountability and Reporting Requirements

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a streamlined template for State Educational Agencies (SEAs) to use to request a waiver from federal accountability and reporting requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, families, schools and districts, CDE is proposing to request this waiver from the ESSA accountability and reporting requirements

Requesting this waiver would allow CDE to not be required to use data from the 2020-2021 school year for identifying schools for support and improvement under ESSA in fall of 2021 and to skip the following requirements for one year: 

  • ​Measuring progress toward long-term goals and interim progress based on state assessments;  
  • Adjusting the academic achievement indicator to hold schools accountable for student participation on state assessments when participation drops below 95%; and
  • Public reporting related to ESSA accountability and school identification.

As part of applying for this waiver, CDE would agree to continue implementing the following ESSA requirements: 

  • ​Report chronic absenteeism to the USDE and publicly; 
  • Publicly report data on student and/or teacher access to technology and high speed internet, to the extent that this data is collected by the CDE or LEAs; 
  • Continue to provide supports and services to schools identified under ESSA for support and improvement in 2019-2020; 
  • Only exit schools that were identified based solely on graduation rates; and 
  • Resume identification of schools for support and improvement under ESSA in fall 2022.

CDE received input on the draft waiver request for submission to the USDE. For any questions about the waiver request, please email:


New:  U.S. Department of Education Issues Template and Guidance for States to Update ESSA State Plans

On Oct. 20, 2020, the U. S. Department of Education (USDE) provided states with a draft state plan addendum document that outlines the flexibility available to states to request changes to their ESSA plans  due to the absence of 2019-20 state assessments data .  Stakeholders have until Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, to send their comments on the draft addendum document to this email address:   

Once the template is final, states will have until Feb. 1, 2021, to submit any requested changes to their ESSA state plans for identification of schools for ESSA support and improvement in the fall of 2021.

The draft state plan addendum document is intended to provide states with a common streamlined template for requesting technical changes to their ESSA accountability plans for the 2020-21 school year due to the absence of assessment data for the 2019-20 school year.  CDE will engage its primary accountability stakeholder groups, the Committee of Practitioners and the Accountability Work Group, as well as district federal program directors, BOCES, and district leaders as it develops its plans to submit the addendum by Feb. 1, 2021, for changes needed  for the 2020-21 school year using this streamlined approach.  States that wish to amend their ESSA state plans beyond what is included in the template must follow the regular amendment requirements provided by the USDE in past years.   CDE will make its recommended technical changes to Colorado’s ESSA plan in December.  

The draft state plan addendum document does not include the option to request a waiver for assessment requirements under ESSA for the 2020-21 school year.   In the frequently asked questions section on this issue, the USDE indicates that “based on information currently available, the Department expects that an SEA will meet all ESEA assessment, accountability, school identification, and reporting requirements in the 2020-2021 school year.”


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