No Child Left Behind Act Replaced; Wyoming’s Consolidated State Plan Submitted

State Superintendent Jillian Balow signs Wyoming's ESSA state plan in 2017 at Laramie County Community College. (Photo: WDE)

(Gillette, Wyo.) Jillian Balow, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, has finalized and submitted Wyoming’s consolidated state plan in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education (USED).

ESSA, signed into law at the end of 2015 by President Barack Obama, outlines a new set of requirements for the achievement and graduation rate goals for schools, measures for how well schools are doing, and priorities for the use of federal funds to support schools, students and educators, says the Wyoming Department of Education.

The consolidated state plan must meet these new requirements.

Balow stated in a press release that ESSA serves as a call to action to evaluate Wyoming’s weaknesses and strengths when it comes to education by creating more opportunities for students by better preparing them for success in college, careers, workforce training and military service.

“Our charge is clear: school needs to be relevant for all students, and we can do better than we did under No Child Left Behind,” Balow expressed. “As we implement this plan, we will continue to rely on the people of Wyoming to weigh in on how we are doing.”

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In preparation for the plan’s submission, the WDE held 14 public meetings and received input from over 600 stakeholders, public commenters, online surveyors and consulted with local Native American Tribes.

“We heard about the many strengths and challenges that exist in our schools. We heard that the best decisions for our students are made here in Wyoming and that success looks different for every student,” Balow said in a letter to Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education.

Balow wrote that while stakeholder input the department received helped with the construction of the consolidated state plan, it was truly the beginning of an ongoing consultation that will continue beyond implementation of the plan itself.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead expressed his support of the work the WDE and others who created a plan that addresses Wyoming’s specific needs within the context of ESSA by streamlining federal requirements with the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act (WAEA).

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“The plan is just a start. The hard work of improving schools and supporting students continues,” Mead stated in a letter to Balow. “I trust Wyoming schools will meet and exceed the goals that have been established in this plan.”

According to the Wyoming Department of Education, ESSA replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 as the primary federal law overseeing K-12 education and reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act originally passed in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In order to receive federal funds for the 2017-2018 school year, all states are required to submit their plans for meeting the requirements of ESSA by September 18, the WDE informs.

Submitted plans will be reviewed by the USED within a 120 day window where they will evaluate the plan and offer feedback.