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January 18, 2017 Every Student Succeeds Act Update

California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
January 18, 2017

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


The purpose of this letter is to update you on California’s transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The new federal law provides states with more flexibility to design accountability and systems of support that will align with current California reforms, such as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs).

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has been issuing final guidance and regulations for the implementation of the ESSA. Final regulations governing state plans, accountability, and data reporting under the ESSA were published on November 28, 2016 by the ED. More information, including links to all of the proposed and final regulations and California’s responses to each set of proposed regulations, are available on the California Department of Education (CDE) ESSA Web page at

The final regulations provide additional time for states to submit their ESSA consolidated state plans under the new law. States can choose from two new submission dates—April 3, 2017 or September 18, 2017. In order to incorporate as much stakeholder input as possible, California plans to submit the State Plan on September 18, 2017. Statute provides ED 120 days to approve state plans, so it is possible that California will not have an approved ESSA State Plan until January 2018. In the absence of an approved state plan, 2017–18 will be another transition year.

With the transition to a new president and the transition to a new administration of ED, there is a fair amount of uncertainty and speculation as to what will happen with guidance and regulations issued before these transitions occurred. Congress has the ability to utilize the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives Congress the authority to pass a joint resolution of disapproval within 60 days of the publication of any final regulation. If signed by the president, this resolution not only rescinds the regulation at issue, but also prevents the agency from ever issuing anything “substantially similar” on the same piece of law. Additionally, the new leadership at the ED may opt to modify or withdraw guidance or regulations. Further, we do not anticipate that we will have a final federal budget until the end of April.

Despite this uncertainty, California remains committed to streamlining local, state, and federal requirements into a single, coherent system for planning, accountability, and continuous improvement and support. Each part of the emerging system will align with the LCFF to support continuous learning and improvement, equity, and transparency. This letter describes how California will use the 2017–18 school year to continue the transition from our current separate state and federal processes for planning, accountability, and support systems into a single, coherent system.

Planning Requirements for 2017–18

To ensure that federal planning requirements are aligned with, and supportive of, state and local planning efforts, the CDE, working in collaboration with local educational agency (LEA) representatives, has developed a Local Educational Agency Plan LCAP Addendum (LCAP Addendum) to supplement the LCAP. For the 2017–18 transition year, LEAs will meet state and federal planning requirements through the LCAP, the LCAP Addendum, and the Consolidated Application Reporting System (CARS).

  • All LEAs must submit certifications of the required ESSA assurances through CARS during the spring collection period.
  • LEAs scheduled for Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) during the 2017–18 school year will pilot the LCAP Addendum in 2017–18.
  • LEAs applying for Title III funds will pilot the Title III section of the LCAP Addendum in 2017–18.
  • LEAs not applying for Title III funds or scheduled for FPM during the 2017–18 school year are encouraged, but not required, to pilot the appropriate sections of the LCAP Addendum.

We anticipate that the LCAP Addendum will be made available in spring 2017. All LEAs applying for ESSA funding in 2018–19 will be required to complete the appropriate sections of the LCAP Addendum in concert with the 2018–19 LCAP review and update.

Title I, Program Improvement Activities

On January 13, 2017, the ED released additional guidance relating to support for low-performing schools during the 2017–18 transition year.* Currently, the CDE is reviewing the guidance. The CDE will provide more information as it becomes available.

Generally, LEAs and schools previously identified for PI are encouraged to provide evidence-based strategies tailored to local needs, which may include alternative supports that are designed to increase the academic achievement of socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Title I, Parental Notification

For the 2017–18 school year, LEAs may, but are not required to, notify parents/guardians regarding evidence-based strategies, alternative supports, and/or the Public School Choice Program. Prior to the beginning of the 2017–18 school year, the CDE will post a sample parental notification template, translated into various languages, which LEAs may use for the 2017–18 school year.

Title I, Public School Choice

In the 2017–18 school year, the Title I, Part A Public School Choice (Choice) Program is still an optional program for LEAs. If LEAs decide to provide Choice to new students, they may set aside a reasonable amount to provide transportation, not to exceed 5 percent of the LEA’s Title I Part A allocation.

For LEAs that opt not to provide Choice to new students, they must allow students who previously transferred to another public school under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to remain in that school until the child has completed the highest grade offered in that school. Such LEAs must set aside a reasonable amount of Title I, Part A funds for transportation.

Title I, Schoolwide Program Waiver

Beginning in the 2017–18 school year, schools that serve an eligible school attendance area in which less than 40 percent of the children are from low-income families, or a school in which less than 40 percent of the children enrolled are from such families, may operate a schoolwide program if the school receives a waiver as defined by Section 1114(a)(1)(B) of ESSA.

An LEA may submit a Schoolwide Program Waiver for each of its schools through the 2017–18 Title I Part A Notification of Authorization of Schoolwide Program Data Collection in the CARS. By spring 2017, additional information on how to apply for such a waiver will be available on the CDE Schoolwide Program Web page at

Title I Part A - Equitable Services

There are critical and timely changes to the requirements in the ESSA that impact LEAs in the area of equitable services for eligible private school children, their teachers, and other personnel serving those children. Note: The LEA must provide equitable services, not funding, to private schools.

These changes are summarized below:

  • The state educational agency (SEA) shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements of Sections 1117 and 8501 of the ESSA. In addition, the SEA shall provide notice in a timely manner to the appropriate private school officials in the State of the allocation of funds for educational services and other benefits available for eligible private school children after the spring release of the CARS data collection for the academic year.
  • Any LEA that provides equitable services shall consult with appropriate private school officials on how to provide equitable and effective programs for eligible private school children, the results of which agreement shall be transmitted to the ombudsman. The proportional share of funds for educational services and other benefits will be determined based on the LEA total amount of funds received prior to any allowable expenditures or transfers.

Currently, the CARS is being revised to reflect changes to the equitable services calculations of funds according to Section 1117(a)(4)(A)(ii) of the ESSA, as well as an assurance that provides a written affirmation reflecting the results of the consultation process.

For more information regarding ESSA requirements for Title I equitable services for private schools, please contact Sylvia Hanna, Education Programs Consultant, by phone at 916-319-0498 or by e-mail at

Title I, Part C, Education of Migratory Children

During the 2016–17 school year, the CDE has provided training on ESSA implementation to the local Migrant Education Programs (MEPs). Subgrantees of the MEP are beginning to implement changes and utilizing the Migrant Student Information Network (MSIN) and Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX) systems for reporting purposes. In the 2017–18 transition year, the CDE will pilot a three-year online application that incorporates the changes in the ESSA. A State Service Delivery Plan (SSDP) committee has been established to develop the SSDP, scheduled to be completed by summer 2017. The FPM cycle for MEP visits will remain on a four-year cycle. Additionally, the preliminary allocation in 2017–18 has decreased by 10 percent, consistent with the “hold harmless” clause in the law. Carryover will be reallocated to maintain the same level of funding for the next two years.

Title III, Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students

LEAs receiving Title III funds will not receive a new accountability status for the 2015–16 or 2016–17 school years. However, LEAs previously identified in improvement status are required to continue implementation of their improvement activities in the 2017–18 school year.

All LEAs receiving Title III funds are encouraged to focus on aligning their LCAP with their Title III English learner (EL) and/or immigrant funding activities to assure that Title III funds supplement State funds. Information to support planning concerning the authorized uses of Title III funds may be accessed on the CDE Title III Authorized Costs Web page at

LEAs receiving Title III funds will respond to changes in ESSA reporting requirements in 2017–18. LEAs are to report:

  1. The number and percentage of ELs making progress toward achieving English language proficiency (ELP) in the aggregate, and disaggregated by ELs with a disability.
  2. The number and percentage of ELs meeting the challenging State academic standards for each of four years after exiting language instruction programs in the aggregate, and disaggregated by ELs with a disability.
  3. The number and percentage of ELs who exit language instruction programs based on their attainment of ELP as measured by the State ELP assessment.
  4. The number and percentage of ELs who have not attained ELP within five years of initial identification.

The CDE will generate these reports utilizing data reported on the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).* Therefore, accurate data reporting on all systems is critical.

Fiscal Updates

CDE cannot estimate the fiscal impact to individual LEAs until preliminary entitlements are provided by the ED. We are hopeful that ED will make these available April 2017.

Title I: There are few changes to the calculation formula for Title I under ESSA. Each district allocation continues to be driven primarily by the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual poverty and population estimates. As in the past, some districts may experience increases and others may experience decreases due to changes in their estimated poverty and population counts. Similarly, the amount available to the State of California could be reduced or increased based on the same information.

Mandatory Set-aside for School Improvement

One change to Title I, Part A under ESSA is that the State must apply a 7 percent
set-aside for school improvement to each individual LEA’s Title I, Part A allocation commencing with fiscal year (FY) 2017–18. Under NCLB, the set-aside was 4 percent and several LEAs contributed less than 4 percent or nothing due to a hold-harmless provision. The hold-harmless provision ensured that the 4 percent set-aside did not cause an LEA to receive less than it received in the prior year. There is no hold-harmless provision attached to the 7 percent set-aside in FY 2017–18. Without factoring entitlement changes based on Census data, some LEAs could see reductions of 12 percent to 22 percent due to the increased set-aside and the hold-harmless reset. A hold-harmless provision will be restored in FY 2018–19 when the reduced FY 2017–18 allocation will become the new threshold.

Again, CDE cannot estimate the fiscal impact to individual LEAs until preliminary entitlements are provided by the ED. In the meantime, the CDE will provide more information, particularly to LEAs that may be most affected by the hold-harmless reset, as data becomes available.

Title II: There is a significant change in the calculation formula for Title II under ESSA. Effective FY 2017–18, 20 percent of each LEA’s allocation will be calculated based on the U.S. Census Bureau estimate of children age 5 through 17 living within district boundaries; 80 percent of each LEA allocation will be calculated based on the U.S. Census Bureau estimate of children age 5 through 17 living in poverty within district boundaries. A hold-harmless provision, based on the amount of funds an LEA received in FY 2001 under the former Eisenhower Professional Development and Class-Size Reduction programs, has been eliminated. Some districts may experience large increases and others may experience large decreases due to redistribution of the funds previously tied to the hold-harmless provision.

Title III: There are no changes in the calculation formula for Title III, Part A under ESSA.

Educational Stability Requirements for Students in Foster Care

ESSA contains key protections to ensure that students in foster care experience minimal disruptions in their education, avoid gaps in school attendance, and receive the opportunities and supports that they need to succeed.

  • Students in foster care must be enrolled or remain in their school of origin, unless a determination is made that it is not in their best interest to attend that school.1
  • If a determination is made that it is not in the student’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, the student will be immediately enrolled in a new school, even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment.2
  • A new (enrolling) school will immediately contact the school of origin to obtain relevant academic and other records.3
  • LEAs must develop and implement clear written procedures governing how transportation to maintain students in foster care in their school of origin, when in their best interest, will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of their time in foster care, and ensure that students promptly receive that transportation.4 These transportation procedures must describe how this requirement will be met in the event of a dispute regarding which agency or agencies will pay any additional costs incurred in providing transportation, and describe which agency or agencies will initially pay the additional costs so that transportation is provided promptly during pending disputes.5 For suggestions of cost-sharing arrangements, please see the Dear Colleague Letter on Implementation of Educational Stability Requirements issued by the ED in December 5, 2016, available on the ED Web site at
  • LEAs must designate a “point of contact” (POC) if the corresponding child welfare agency notifies the LEA in writing that it has designated an employee to serve as a POC for the LEA.6

The educational stability requirements (school of origin, immediate enrollment, records transfer, points of contact, and transportation) took effect on December 10, 2016, and implementation is a condition on each state’s FY 2016 Title I grant award.

The CDE urges all LEAs that have not already done so to develop, document, and ensure consistent implementation of policies regarding these items. These policies should be consistent with the ESSA and California state law, and they should be developed, documented and implemented in close collaboration with the local child welfare agency and the County Office of Education’s Foster Youth Service Coordinating Program (COE FYSCP).

For more detailed information and guidance regarding ESSA requirements for students in foster care, please review the federal guidance at, or contact the Coordinated School Health and Safety Office by phone at 916-327-5930 or by e-mail at

McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth

The ESSA amended a number of key provisions under the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program which went into effect October 1, 2016. Homeless children and youth are automatically eligible for Title I services. LEAs must reserve such funds to support the enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youths. Starting in the 2017–18 school year, the amount of Title I funds reserved for homeless children and youth may be determined based on a needs assessment, and must be based on the total allocation received by the LEA and reserved prior to any allowable expenditure of transfers by the LEA. These reserved funds may be used for services not ordinarily provided by Title I, including local liaisons and transportation to the school of origin.

For further information regarding homeless children and youth, please review ED’s Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance at, or contact Leanne Wheeler, Education Programs Consultant, Coordinated School Health and Safety Office, by phone at 916-319-0383 or by e-mail at

New Opportunities for Early Education

In October 2016, non-regulatory guidance, “Early Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act: Expanding Opportunities to Support our Youngest Learners,” was released by ED, and can be found at

This guidance reminds state and local decision-makers about the importance of investing in early learning, it highlights the opportunities available under the law to strengthen early education, and provides examples of how states and local communities may support young children’s success in school. Although only a few programs under the ESSA require that funds be used to support early learning, others allow early learning as one of many uses of the funds.

The ESSA contains provisions to support early learning in three main ways:

  1. Expanding access to high-quality early learning.
    Although many communities lack enough funds to implement programs to meet the early learning needs of children and families, federal funds under ESSA may help meet the critical need. An LEA may use funds to provide early education services consistent with applicable program requirements, for example: Title I Preschool, charter schools, and programs for special populations (children who are experiencing homelessness; children in foster care; migratory children; ELs and immigrant children; and American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians).
  2. Encouraging alignment and collaboration from birth through third grade.
    Alignment and collaboration between early education and support programs and the K–12 system is critical to the success of early learners. The guidance document includes detailed information about both the requirements of the ESSA and other possible activities, specifically:
    • An LEA that receives Title I funds under ESSA is required to coordinate with Head Start programs and, if feasible, other early learning programs that serve children who will attend the LEA, regardless of whether the LEA uses Title I funds to operate an early education program. You can find your local Head Start program by visiting the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center Web page at
    • As LEAs plan to expand the availability of high-quality preschool programs, special attention should be paid to how preschool children with disabilities will be identified and meaningfully included.
    • LEAs must include the number and percentage of children enrolled in preschool programs on their report cards.
    • LEAs should adopt strategies to align curriculum and instruction from preschool through elementary school as a part of their school improvement efforts. 
  3. Supporting educators.
    Funds available under Titles I, II, and III may be used by LEAs to support high-quality teaching and learning in schools and other early childhood settings. Under each title, program funds have specific uses and limitations and must be used to serve eligible children. These resources can help districts to support early learning teachers, administrators, and other staff to learn new skills, and improve their instructional practice.

Appendix A of the guidance document demonstrates both the required and allowable/possible opportunities that exist throughout the ESSA, by title, to support our youngest learners.

Opportunity to Participate in ESSA State Plan Development

Next month, the CDE, in partnership with select county offices of education, is convening stakeholder meetings to inform the development of California’s ESSA State Plan. The purpose of these meetings is to present the remaining policy decisions California needs to make in order to develop its ESSA State Plan, and to gather feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders on the options the State could pursue in order to address those policy decisions.

We are eager to hear from Californians about what they would like to see in the State Plan and encourage you to participate in these meetings. More information and registration links are available on the CDE ESSA State Plan Development Opportunities Web page at

The CDE is committed to providing schools and districts, stakeholders, and members of the public clear and timely communication regarding our state’s transition to ESSA. You can find more information and resources from the CDE and the ED on the CDE ESSA Web page available at I encourage you to join the CDE ESSA listserv to receive e-mail notifications when new information becomes available. To join, please send a blank e-mail message to

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact the program contacts listed within or the CDE ESSA Office by phone at 916-319-0843 or by e-mail at



Tom Torlakson


1ESEA § 1111(g)(1)(E).
4ESEA § 1112(c)(5).
534 C.F.R. § 299.13(c)(1)(ii).
6ESEA § 1112(c)(5).
*Correction: This sentence has been updated from how it appeared in the original letter, e-mailed to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators on January 18, 2017, to address incorrect information. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 09, 2022

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