For Immediate Release
Friday, December 9, 2016

ISBE releases second Reader’s Guide and new online engagement forum to accompany draft ESSA State Plan

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today advanced an important and  continuing dialogue with communities throughout the state on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by releasing the second Reader’s Guide for Illinois’ draft ESSA State Plan and launching a new online engagement forum, developed in partnership with the nonprofit policy support network Partners for Each and Every Child (Partners for).

Partners for Each and Every ChildISBE will submit the next draft of the Illinois ESSA State Plan to Governor Bruce Rauner’s office Feb. 1 and then to the U.S. Department of Education April 3. ISBE will gather public input on the draft ESSA State Plan through Dec. 27.

“Now is the time to unlock the unique potential of our diverse state,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “We have strong school-community partnerships and experienced educators who can come together to create and implement a state plan that improves outcomes for all students and benefits our entire country. Feedback is essential as ISBE staff and stakeholders seize this opportunity to work together in charting our collective path forward.”

Illinois’ ESSA State Plan is intended to meet the requirements ESSA, the new federal education law. ISBE developed the draft ESSA State Plan based on stakeholder feedback received at three statewide listening tours and hundreds of comments submitted online. The evolving document refines an accountability framework that fulfills the educational equity and excellence goals for all students in Illinois.
A NEW READERS GUIDE: The second draft of Illinois’ ESSA State Plan builds on feedback received on the previous draft of the plan. ISBE produced a Reader’s Guide in partnership with Partners for to assist all stakeholders in understanding the plan. The Reader’s Guide accompanies the draft Illinois ESSA State Plan to showcase:

  • Changes from Draft Plan #1 and how community feedback has been incorporated;
  • Important statutory provisions of ESSA;
  • How ISBE’s thinking has evolved, based on stakeholder input;
  • Questions that still remain to be addressed; and
  • Resources to further explore remaining issues and key decision points. 

A NEW ONLINE ENGAGEMENT PLATFORM: is an online platform facilitating engagement in the education policymaking process. Launched in partnership with Partners for Each and Every Child, focuses on Illinois ESSA planning and implementation. ISBE encourages all stakeholders to download the ESSA State Plan Reader’s Guide to maximize utility of the platform.
ONGOING INPUT: Regularly updated information regarding ESSA can be found at Stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback on the draft plan by emailing through Dec. 27.

Speaking about the need for thoughtful collaboration in a time of significant uncertainty, Superintendent Smith said, “We are focused on leveraging the immediate challenge to advance educational equity for students. In Illinois, we are taking full advantage of the opportunities which ESSA allows and requires. It is up to all of us now - liberals and conservatives, families and educators, community organizers and labor representatives - to forge a new consensus on successful schools for each and every child. ISBE is committed to getting the tools and resources to do so into the hands of our communities.”
Christopher Edley Jr., chair of Partners for Each and Every Child and founder/president of the Opportunity Institute, added, “States must lead the way on equity in education, especially considering it is unclear how strong a role the U.S. Department of Education will play in overseeing ESSA implementation. Partners for applauds ISBE’s efforts to regularly, thoughtfully, and deliberately engage with a diverse base of stakeholders in the development of a better, stronger, and more collaborative state educational accountability system.”

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.