Matt Deninger speaks about the Every Student Succeeds Act. Photo: Amy O’Leary for Strategies for Children

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is in the news, and education officials are seeking public comments on how this law should be implemented.

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Strategies for Children convened a group of early childhood practitioners, advocates, and policy makers to discuss ESSA. Matthew Deninger from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was on hand to provide background on the law. He shared details about the evolving Massachusetts plan and spoke about opportunities to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum in the state plan and in local district plans.

Several themes emerged from this discussion: 

• Massachusetts’ commitment to the mixed-delivery system of public and private early childhood programming

• streamlining collaboration at the local and state level to support initiatives such as preschool expansion, teacher quality grants, and others

• concern about the Trump administration’s impact on federal ESSA regulations and on early childhood funding more broadly

• commitment to accountability and regulation

• the importance of assessment and the use of data, and

• the role of families as well as opportunities for family engagement

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education welcomes your comments on the draft ESSA State Plan. Please submit feedback through this survey or email feedback to The deadline for public comments is Thursday, March 9, 2017. State officials expect to submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Education on April 3, 2017.

To learn more, check out these resources:

highlights of the plan – 2 pages

• an executive summary of the plan – 11 pages, and

• the full, 121-page plan, which uses the template that the U.S. Department of Education requires

Additional resources discussed at the meeting include:

• Early Learning and the Every Students Succeeds Act – CEELO

• ESSA Action Plan presentation from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)

• Guidance from the US Department of Education

• the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s report on federal funding within the state budget, finds 70% of EEC spending comes from federal sources.

Please take a look and let education officials know what you think.