Supporting State Leadership: CCSSO’s 2020 Year in Review

CCSSO 2020 Success Together

A message from Chief Executive Officer Carissa Moffat Miller:

Amid one of the most challenging years in recent history – a global pandemic, racial tensions, and economic strife – we are grateful for the incredible, dedicated state education chiefs who have led their schools through this unprecedented time. As the nation’s premier nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for chief state school officers, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has been honored to represent and advocate on behalf of every state and territorial K-12 education leader over the past year. As with many of you, we are looking forward to the hope and promise of a new year. Before we say goodbye to 2020, we want to take a look back in appreciation for what CCSSO was able to accomplish as a result of our work together.

Addressing & the Impact on Education

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, CCSSO worked around the clock to support and advise state chiefs and leaders in the state education agency on everything from school closures and providing school meals to ramping up remote learning practices and bridging the digital divide. In many cases, we were able to provide timely information within a matter of hours, rather than days. Among our most significant accomplishments, CCSSO:

  • Led the advocacy on an unprecedented and expedited waiver process for state assessments and accountability measures.
  • Played an instrumental role in convincing the USDA to grant and expand states flexibility in the school meal program, such as grab-and-go-meals and pandemic-EBT.
  • Assembled an online library of more than 500 resources addressing topics ranging from childcare issues and continuous learning to school meals and serving vulnerable students.
  • Hosted more than 290 webinars and virtual convenings for CCSSO members.
  • Created and shared more than 48 publications and resources related to supporting states in response to COVID-19.
  • Shared 125 COVID-19 emails to states with the most up-to-date information and resources. 

We know these efforts had a direct impact on how states supported schools, districts, teachers, students and families throughout the pandemic.

  • 98% of state chiefs and senior deputies say they have been “Satisfied” with the support received from CCSSO during COVID-19, and more than two-thirds have rated CCSSO as their “most important” resource during this time.
  • State chiefs and senior deputies rated all of CCSSO’s resources and publications as “helpful” throughout their response to COVID-19. Among the most used resources were CCSSO’s Restart and Recovery Framework, Considerations for Teaching and Learning series, Planning Toolkit for Chiefs, and Addressing Building Safety, Cleaning & Monitoring.
Directly Supporting States

CCSSO also boasted a record year for our full Membership Meetings and Collaboratives, which are the premier space for state education agency professionals to gain invaluable industry knowledge from each other, as well as national experts on education subject areas and systems.

Amid the pandemic, CCSSO provided direct support to our members in more ways than ever, leveraging new virtual platforms.

  • CCSSO developed a new virtual conference center to serve our members throughout 2020. We hit recording-breaking attendance at our Summer Leadership Convening and Annual Policy Forum, reaching 539 participants. 
  • Through the Collaboratives, CCSSO offered more than 200 webinars to state members in addition to the traditional three major convenings.
Transition to a New Administration

In November, the country elected a new President and Vice President. CCSSO has played an integral role in supporting the Biden-Harris Department of Education Agency Review team. We are proud that former CCSSO Board President Pedro Rivera was appointed to this team to ensure state education chiefs are represented in every conversation.

CCSSO hosted an opportunity for all state chiefs to connect with the transition team in December, hearing updates on their work of the transition team as well as voicing the priorities of state education chiefs across the country.

We are thrilled that President-Elect Biden plans to nominate Miguel A. Cardona, a state education chief who has dedicated his career to serving students and closing the achievement gap, to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Education. Dr. Cardona has dedicated his career to creating a more equitable education system, and as Secretary of Education,  we know he will continue to prioritize equity, particularly for historically marginalized students. We look forward to continuing to work alongside Dr. Cardona in this new role and forging a strong federal-state partnership to improve K-12 education for all students.

Improving the Education Ecosystem

While the response to COVID-19 has remained the top priority of 2020, CCSSO is proud of our other work underway that is having a significant impact on the education ecosystem:

  • CCSSO's High-Quality Instructional Materials and Professional Development Network (IMPD) has grown to serve nine states, which collectively reach more than 1,600 districts, 10,400 schools and 4.9 million students. Our efforts are working: a study conducted by RAND found that a greater proportion of teachers in states participating in CCSSO’s IMPD Network were using high-quality instructional materials, compared to the national average.
  • CCSSO hosted a National Summit on Literacy in January 2020 to begin a critical conversation on how we can work together to address the past decade's stagnant reading scores and the widening gap between high-performing students and those students in the bottom 10 percent. CCSSO convened national experts, educators, and 13 state chiefs to begin this conversation, discussing the science of reading, systemic barriers for teachers and administrators, and best practices for how to serve historically marginalized populations. In 2021, CCSSO will be unveiling concrete next steps for the education field to better serve all students in gaining the reading and literacy skills necessary to be successful in school and in life.
  • CCSSO continues our work to improve assessment tools for all students. This year, we secured a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve how states measure the academic progress of English Learners. We are proud to collaborate with the Mississippi Department of Education to lead this four-year project, which will evaluate English language progress models among seven participating states: Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • CCSSO’s commitment to leading for equity has expanded over the past year, including an Educational Access Map and Anti-Racism Webinar Series, to support states to address inequities that persist in communities which are vulnerable and systemically marginalized by health, economic, racial and educational disparities.
  • In 2020, CCSSO was honored to announce 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy, the first early childhood educator ever given this prestigious honor. Rosproy, from Kansas, has elevated the importance of high-quality early learning in communities across the country and worked closely with her fellow State Teachers of the Year to support all educators as they navigate a transition to new delivery models of education this year.


Looking Forward to 2021

Collectively, we impact the educational needs of more than 55 million students, 3.8 million teachers, more than 98,000 schools, and over 13,500 school districts. In 2021, CCSSO looks forward to continuing our role as the steadfast go-to organization for state and territorial education leaders. In the next year, we will continue our focus on leading, connecting and influencing education at the national level to ensure every state education chief has what they need to improve learning for the students they serve. Over the next year, we look forward to:

  • Providing continued support and technical assistance to states as they navigate school reopening, recovery of student learning loss, and other impacts of COVID-19,
  • Advocating on behalf of state education chiefs to ensure they have the flexibility, authority and resources they need to prioritize student health, wellbeing and academic progress,
  • Launching a new strategic plan that will offer a clear framework for how CCSSO serves state education chiefs over the next five years,
  • Propelling our equity work to help states address policies and practices with an anti-racist lens and renewed commitment to equity,
  • Leading work at the national level to ensure every student and teacher has access to high-quality instructional materials, professional development and resources to learn reading based in evidence and research,
  • Taking lessons learned throughout the past year to modernize our education system so it better meets the needs of all students, particularly our historically marginalized populations.


As always, with these priorities in mind, CCSSO remains nimble to respond to additional state needs that may arise over the next year.

We also want to give a special thanks to CCSSO’s 2019-2020 Board of Directors, particularly the Board President Jillian Balow of Wyoming. Her leadership ensured we remained focused on students in everything we do. We know this vision will continue under current Board President Matt Blomstedt of Nebraska.

Thank you again to each of you for your leadership and continued partnership. Have a happy and healthy New Year!

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