For Immediate Release
Thursday, September 1, 2016

ISBE and Partners for release Reader’s Guide to accompany first draft of ESSA State Plan

Guide to encourage public feedback during second listening tour

Partners for Each and Every Child LogoSPRINGFIELD — On Aug. 25, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) shared its first draft of the Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan with the public. ISBE and Partners for Each and Every Child have worked together to develop a Reader's Guide (for the ISBE ESSA State Plan Draft #1). The Reader’s Guide will help stakeholders reflect on the questions raised by ISBE throughout the draft plan and provide a structure for sharing feedback.

Beginning Sept. 6, ISBE will be gathering input on the ESSA Draft Plan #1 during its second listening tour across the state. Thirteen meetings are planned between Sept. 6 and Sept. 28. The listening tour schedule and regularly updated information regarding ESSA can be found at

“So that we may collectively maximize the opportunities that ESSA presents for educating ‘the whole child’ and ensure the law’s equitable implementation, ISBE recognizes the need to meaningfully engage all Illinois stakeholders,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “We hope Illinoisans join us in this once-in-a-decade opportunity to work together on what it means to educate our students—and hold ourselves accountable when we don’t.”

The first listening tour, which occurred in April and May, focused on an overview of ESSA and ideas and questions from meeting participants. The second round of meetings will focus on sharing the substance of the draft and receiving feedback from the field. Individuals and groups are encouraged to review the plan and Reader’s Guide and express their thoughts at these meetings.

Stakeholders can also provide feedback by emailing Feedback is essential as staff and stakeholders work together to refine this initial draft. It will then be posted again later this fall for review before being brought before the Board for its vote.

“In order to move the needle on equity, we are going to have to have strong and informed engagement between state and local decision makers and the rest of the public, especially equity advocates. The public needs a real chance to participate actively in critical policy decisions. Superintendent Smith and the Illinois State Board of Education are working hard to ensure the people of Illinois are informed and at the table at this critical time for equity in education,” said Christopher Edley Jr., chair of Partners for Each and Every Child and founder/president of the Opportunity Institute.

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability’s executive director, Ralph Martire, also addressed the need for informed and sustained stakeholder engagement.

"The reduced federal role in holding states and districts accountable for being equitable makes having the tools and processes for meaningful stakeholder engagement a core element of ESSA implementation—especially when it comes to ensuring equity and excellence for all Illinois' student populations,” Martire said. “National, state, and local partnerships can inform and support greater participation to create an effective pathway for achieving these ends.”

Partners for Each and Every Child is a project of the Opportunity Institute. Its mission is to build an infrastructure of interconnected work that will encourage a growing portion of the education policy community to break down barriers to advance sound educational policies; to address matters of equity; and to respond to the needs of at-risk, underserved, and politically underrepresented students.