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Every Student Succeeds Act 2016

California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
January 14, 2016

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


The purpose of this letter is to update you on the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and share what is ahead in the transition to a new state accountability system. The new federal law provides states with more flexibility to design accountability and systems of support that will be easier to align with current California reforms, such as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs).

Title I Assessment

In general, ESSA did not change assessment requirements. All states accepting Title I federal funds for use by LEAs must assess pupils as follows:

  • Reading/language arts and mathematics – assess annually in each of grades three through eight and once in grade nine, ten, eleven, or twelve.
  • Science – assess once during each of three specified grade spans: grades three through five, six through nine, and ten through twelve.
  • English language proficiency – assess ELs annually in each of grades kindergarten through grade twelve.
Title I Accountability

Most of the new accountability provisions of the ESSA will not take effect until the 2017–18 school year. For 2015–16 and 2016–17, schools and districts that were identified for Title I Program Improvement (PI) are obligated to continue with their improvement plan activities, such as Supplemental Education Services (SES). The California State Board of Education (SBE) has approved the submission of a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that, if approved, would relieve local educational agencies (LEAs) from the obligation to provide SES.

Title II Professional Development

Provisions under the ESSA will take effect the beginning of the 2017–18 school year when a new State Plan is approved by the ED. Until then, all Title II, Part A-related activities and requirements—including Highly Qualified Teacher requirements; federal program monitoring; and the implementation of the Compliance Monitoring, Interventions, and Sanctions Program—will remain in effect.

Title III English Learners and Immigrant Students

To restate, most of the new accountability provisions of the ESSA will not take effect until the 2017–18 school year. For 2015–16 and 2016–17, LEAs will maintain their current Title III Improvement status. In the future, federal accountability for ELs will be part of Title I accountability. Although there will be no new AMAO determinations, LEAs will be expected to continue to implement the 2014–15 corrective measures. Parents must continue to be notified of the accountability status.

Title IV 21st Century Schools

ESSA consolidates grant funding streams across Titles to create a larger Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant Program. The move was an effort by Congress to lend more flexibility to LEAs by expanding the allowable uses of grant funds. There are a number of programs that retain their stand-alone funding stream, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Charter Schools Grant, Magnet Schools Grant, Promise Neighborhoods, and JAVITS. The Advanced Placement (AP) Test Fee program was not preserved in its entirety. States will, in the 2017 testing cycle, be authorized to allow LEAs, at their discretion, to use their Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant funds to reimburse low-income students for AP/International Baccalaureate (IB) exam fees. More detailed information about AP test fee flexibility is expected to be available following the publication of forthcoming federal regulations.

Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control and Accountability Plans
  • In response to requests from the field, no changes will be made to the LCAP template for the 2016–17 school year. However, the SBE and California Department of Education (CDE) continue to gather feedback with the goal of addressing ongoing concerns about the LCAP length and its complexity in the future.

  • The SBE and CDE continue to highlight examples of LEAs that are synthesizing LCAP content through the use of executive summaries. These examples and other resources to support districts with the implementation of the LCFF and LCAP have been added to the CDE Web site. Resources include:

  • To assist LEAs in evaluating strengths, weaknesses, and areas needing improvement, evaluation rubrics are being developed and tested among more than 30 LEAs. As described in state law, evaluation rubrics will also be used by county offices of education and the state department of education to provide technical assistance, and by the newly established California Collaborative for Educational Excellence to evaluate the need for intervention as a part of the new accountability system.

We look forward to learning more about the system changes underway at the local level, and how the new federal law will support California’s ongoing efforts toward greater local accountability and improved student outcomes. Federal regulations are now being developed and California has submitted several recommendations that emphasize the importance of flexibility for how states implement accountability and systems of assistance.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact:

Title I Assessment: Jessica Barr, Administrator, Assessment Development and Administration Division, by phone at 916-319-0803 or by email at [Note: this contact information is no longer valid. For information, call the Assessment Development and Administration Division at 916-445-8765.].

Title I Accountability: Jenny Singh, Administrator, Academic Accountability Unit, by phone at 916-319-0437 or by e-mail at

Title II Professional Development: Aileen Allison-Zarea, Administrator, Professional Learning Innovations Office, by phone at 916-319-0587 or by e-mail at

Title III English Learners: Elena Fajardo, Administrator, Language Policy and Leadership Office, by phone at 916-319-0247 or by e-mail at

Title III Accountability: Jonathan Isler, Administrator, Data Visualization Reporting Office, by phone at 916-319-0306 or by e-mail at

Title IV 21st Century Schools: John Hooper, Federal Policy Liaison, by phone at 916-319-0650 or by e-mail at [Note: this contact information is no longer valid. Please contact Marguerite Ries, the current Federal Policy Liaison, by phone at 916-319-0606 or by e-mail at].

Local Control and Accountability Plans: Jeff Breshears, Director, Local Agency Systems Support, by phone at 916-319-0303 or by e-mail at


Tom Torlakson


Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 8, 2018

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