ESSA Implementation Timeline

A Guide to Key State and Local Processes

State and local educational agencies (SEAs and LEAs) are currently in various stages of implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with a majority of ESSA state plans already approved and moving forward. SEAs and LEAs are planning for and working to fulfill the law’s requirements, as well as seizing upon new opportunities to partner with stakeholders to improve education for all students.


The following timeline outlines key state and local actions and planning processes in these initial years of implementing new accountability, reporting, and school improvement systems, from the 2017-18 school year through 2020-21 and beyond. It also documents application and funding timelines for federal programs under ESSA, as well as opportunities and expectations for continuous improvement over time. The timeline highlights both the commonalities across states in actions and timing under the law, but also the variation in timing as SEAs and LEAs implement the law within their unique contexts (indicated through visual “windows” of time).


States can use this guide as a visual tool and conversation-starter as they engage with LEAs and other stakeholders in the implementation of ESSA and related education work. The timeline is meant to be customized to fit a state’s specific context and timeframes, in order to provide LEAs and other stakeholders with a sense of opportunities and requirements over the coming months and years. In particular, the timeline highlights opportunities and requirements for meaningful stakeholder engagement.

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