For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

U.S. Department of Education approves the Illinois ESSA Plan

SPRINGFIELD – The U.S. Department of Education today approved the Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan. 

Equity is the grounding principle for the Illinois ESSA Plan. Every student must receive the support they need to achieve academic excellence and postsecondary success. Equity requires that those students with the greatest need must receive the greatest support. The Illinois ESSA Plan embraces the Whole Child, Whole School, Whole Community approach, recognizing that students come to their schools from interconnected learning environments. The plan crystallizes Illinois’ commitment to address the needs of the whole child: to integrate supports for students’ cognitive growth, social and emotional development, and physical well-being through the reinforcement and expansion of cross-agency and public-private-philanthropic partnerships. 

“Illinois is committed to supporting the whole child in transforming learning opportunities for all students in our state,” said Illinois State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “We want every child to feel well known and well cared for in our schools and to receive the individual support they need for academic excellence and postsecondary success. The Illinois ESSA Plan gives us the opportunity to foster collaboration and partnerships in order to build educators’ and leaders’ capacity for improved student outcomes. ESSA is about knowing students, schools, and districts better, so we can provide better support. We appreciate the partnership with the U.S. Department of Education throughout the ESSA process, and we look forward to our continued efforts on behalf of each and every child.” 

The approved plan incorporates the robust and ongoing stakeholder and practitioner feedback gathered through more than 3,500 online comments and 100 in-person forums and meetings.
View the approved plan on the ISBE website at:​

The Illinois ESSA Plan transitions the state to a system of balanced accountability. The plan gathers and examines multiple indicators of school quality and student growth to inform differentiated levels of support for schools and recognizes each school’s unique local context. 

The Illinois ESSA Plan advances ambitious long-term goals for all students to attain by 2032: 90 percent or more of third-grade students are reading at or above grade level; 90 percent or more of fifth-grade students meet or exceed expectations in mathematics; 90 percent or more of ninth-grade are students on track to graduate with their cohort; and 90 percent or more of students graduate from high school ready for college and career. 

Two additional goals identify the importance of where the work occurs and who serves as the cornerstone of a child’s learning: all students are supported by highly prepared and effective teachers and school leaders; and every school offers a safe and healthy learning environment for all students. 

The Illinois ESSA Plan goals align with a larger state goal whereby 60 percent of Illinois residents earn high-quality degrees and career credentials by 2025. 

IL-EMPOWER, the next generation of Illinois’ multi-tiered system of support for schools, will serve as an infrastructure for providing differentiated capacity development for schools. IL-EMPOWER will build the capacity of Illinois’ educators, educational leaders and school communities to improve student outcomes. 

In preparation for full implementation in the 2018-19 school year, the Illinois State Board of Education will continue the process of testing and learning with Illinois’ educators and education leaders to strengthen the ESSA Plan throughout the 2017-18 transition year.