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Press Release

Thursday, May 11, 2017

States Receive Grants to Boost Educator Engagement on ESSA

Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (MAY 10, 2017) --The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today announced that 18 states have secured a combined $95,000 in grant funding to foster meaningful engagement with educators around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Innovating ESSA Educator Engagement Grants will assist states that are focused on increasing the racial and ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic diversity of teacher voices in the design of the state ESSA plan; coordinating with teacher organizations in creating and submitting the state ESSA plan and future policy work; and creating innovative strategies for engaging educators to communicate about and implement the state's ESSA plan.  

"Educator input is essential in any policy decision impacting the classroom," said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. "State chiefs know that educators are working hard every day to deliver a high-quality education to kids and that teachers have invaluable perspective on putting policy into practice."  

Recipient states are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The states were chosen by a group of teacher leaders who reviewed the proposals through a blind selection process.  

States that secured grants will take different approaches based on their individual needs.  

In Alaska, a group of teacher leaders will gain a deeper understanding of ESSA so that they can conduct outreach activities at the local level to engage more educators around the ESSA plan. The state will also convene teacher focus group(s) to help with the implementation of the ESSA plan and propose recommendations on future policy decisions.   

Arkansas will begin creating face-to-face Professional Learning Communities in educational cooperatives across the state called Teacher Quests. The quests will be facilitated by lead teachers and allow teachers the opportunity to collaborate and have a voice in state initiatives and system changes that will be taking place under the ESSA plan.

California will focus on sharing the contents of the State's ESSA plan, providing relevant resources to educators, and outlining the technical assistance efforts offered by the State. The State also plans to solicit educator feedback on future revisions to the state plan to ensure equitable access to excellent education and support LEAs in creating their own systems of continuous improvement in alignment with the ESSA state plan objectives.  

Indiana has been conducting community meetings tailored toward engaging parents and educators. These meetings have been structured to maximize feedback from educators and parents and have allowed these groups to engage with specific questions about aspects of the state ESSA plan.  

Maryland will bring educators from all over the state together and provide an opportunity for them to contribute feedback on the state's ESSA plan. Teachers from low performing, high minority schools will be targeted for participation.  

Michigan will bring together a group of teacher leaders from across the state who will assist with the state's ESSA implementation. The teacher leader panel will participate in virtual meetings with state staff to provide feedback on various implementation plans related to new programs and policies.  

Mississippi will continue to build its teacher leadership initiative by convening teams from up to five school districts for a series of roundtable meetings to develop a common language and understanding of teacher leadership. The meetings with school district "vertical teams," including superintendents, principals and teachers, will also be used to gather input for the development of a state teacher leadership guidebook and a structure for the state's teacher leadership program.

New Jersey will convene teams of educators who are committed to promoting teacher leadership through various statewide initiatives. The teams will develop programs designed to build leadership capacity from within by training, retaining, and utilizing teacher leaders to target districts' unique needs.

New York plans to convene a meeting of teacher leaders from the lowest-performing schools in the state to help augment the ongoing stakeholder engagement efforts and hear directly from educators in those communities.  

North Dakota will scale up their ESSA Planning Committee members to assist with conducting a series of state wide ESSA trainings and maintain the ESSA Planning Committee over the next year to assist with the implementation phase of ESSA. They will also convene focus groups on specific ESSA-related topics.  

The Northern Mariana Islands will engage teachers in the development of its ESSA plan and in tracking the progress of student academic achievement over time. Teacher leader representatives from each school will participate in the development and monitoring of these plans.  

Ohio will convene a teacher leader workgroup that will be engaged in developing a teacher leader framework for the state. This work group will participate in a series of meetings where they will develop a teacher leader framework and address questions surrounding the framework.  

Oregon will equip teacher leaders with a toolkit of resources to support conversations at their schools and within their communities about ESSA and convene groups of educators in regional locations in order to train and support their efforts to drive implementation.  

South Carolina will create a Community of Practice of superintendents, specialized instruction personnel, and key teachers from local education agencies with a high number of schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement. The Community will engage educators in an intensive review of the school improvement requirements in ESSA, related federal regulations, the state's draft ESSA plan, and the key components of the state's proposed improvement framework for schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement.  

The U.S. Virgin Islands will convene a focus groups of teachers to give feedback on the indicators, aggregation methods, and reports for its ESSA plan. They will also train educators to become ESSA Teacher Leaders who will disseminate important information to external stakeholders about its ESSA Accountability System.   

Vermont will host working sessions for teachers of diverse backgrounds. During these sessions, the state will speak to teachers who self-identify as members of historically marginalized student groups to develop necessary resources to build their fellow teachers' capacity to support historically marginalized students, to talk about equity in their school systems and to develop communication materials that support community engagement.  

Wisconsin has created a statewide effort around teacher leadership and voice, which brings together teachers, school and district administrators, and school board members in convenings that help to cultivate and grow teacher voice and leadership. They will continue this work by bringing together classroom teachers who are acting as team leaders to talk specifically about how teacher leadership can live beyond a single convening via the state's Title II work.  

Wyoming plans to host regional meetings and visit schools, creating new connections with educators across the state who can provide valuable input on the implementation of ESSA as well as other projects and initiatives.  

Each awarded state received a grant of between $2,500 and $10,000 that can be spent over the next 12 months.  


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.