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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


New: As of November 29, 2021 

Every state that accepts funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act must have an approved methodology for meaningfully differentiating the performance of and identifying schools for support and improvement. Colorado’s methodology was approved by the U.S. Department of Education in 2018 as part of the ESSA State Plan. The following indicators must be used in the identification methodology (for additional details, please visit the CDE website on the ESSA Identification Methodology and Criteria): 

Academic Achievement as measured by performance on state assessments
  • Academic growth on state assessment

  • Graduation Rates

  • Progress on English language proficiency for English learners

  • Indicator(s) of school quality or student success (SQSS)

Prior to submitting the ESSA State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education for review and approval, CDE had worked with various stakeholders to develop the methodology and identify which metrics to use for each of the required components listed above. At that time, stakeholders identified reduction of the chronic absenteeism as one of the SQSS indicators; however, CDE was asked to continue to research other possible metrics to use for this indicator. Since that time, CDE has been working with stakeholders to research other options. 

After taking into consideration availability, reliability, validity, and research-based of numerous options, the following recommendations have been made by stakeholders for CDE to continue to use reduction of chronic absenteeism and add: 

A growth to standard measure, which would measure how students are progressing towards meeting academic standards
  • A metric for measuring school safety or climate, including surveys from families, students, or educators 

Before CDE can adopt and begin using a growth to standard or a measure of school safety or climate, the ESSA State Plan must be revised, reviewed, and approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to submitting the revised ESSA State Plan, CDE is seeking public comment on the possibility of adding the above recommended metrics to the SQSS indicator. 

The following PowerPoint and recording provide greater context and background on this matter. 

Please email feedback on the SQSS indicator to Nazanin (Nazie) Mohajeri-Nelson

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