Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)


The ESSA, passed by Congress and signed by the President in December 2015, is the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), first signed into law in 1965 and reauthorized periodically since then. ESSA is the governing law of the nine title programs dealing with elementary and secondary education federal funding and student civil rights. Utah receives a little over $300 million in federal funding for public schools, much of it tied into ESSA.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
United States Department of Education

ESSA offers new flexibility in federal regulations but also requires states to develop plans that address student achievement and intent to help struggling students and schools.

On September 18, 2017, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) submitted Utah’s ESSA state plan. Since then, the state plan went through a number of revisions as state officials worked with federal reviewers to clarify how the state plans met with ESSA’s statutory requirements. Utah’s state plan was approved by the United States Department of Education on July 12, 2018.

Revised State Template for the Consolidated State Plan 
Utah's Final Approved ESSA State Plan

Previous Correspondance

The United States Department of Education requested clarification in December of 2017 and Utah resubmitted its plan in February 2018 in response to Department questions.

The Honorable Sydnee Dickson Superintendent of Public Instruction: Clarification Letter
December 14, 2017

The USBE requested a waiver from the House Office of the Legislative Counsel/United States House of Representatives provision ESSA 1111(c)(4)(E)(ii), which requires states to count students who opt out of statewide proficiency testing as non-proficient for school accountability purposes. The Utah State Legislature Title 53G-6-803 does not permit USBE to allow a negative impact upon school grades because of students opting out of statewide tests. Utah’s waiver sought to only include students who take the tests for school accountability, but in May 2018 the department denied the waiver ruling that non-tested students must be counted as non-proficient students for school accountability.

The Honorable Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education: Waiver Request
May 1, 2018

In June of 2018, USBE requested a one-year exemption to the testing provision to allow USBE time to work out a solution between state and federal regulations.

The Honorable Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education: Exception
June 13, 2018

In October 2018, USBE voted to seek an amendment to the state's ESSA plan involving the calculation of English Language Proficiency (ELP). Public comment is welcome on the change through November 16, 2018.

Proposed Utah ESSA ELP Amendment


Key Utah Resources

Utah State Board of Education (USBE) Public Relations News Release: 

Exemption Request:

 Final ESSA Plan:

Utah State Board of Education (USBE) Public Relations News Release:

February ESSA Plan Revision:

Utah State Board of Education (USBE) Public Relations News Release:

Initial ESSA Plan:

Background on Plan Creation:

Key Federal Resources

Revised State Template for the Consolidated State Plan
Utah's Approved ESSA Plan

United States Department of Education Approval Letter:

Transition Authority Request Denial:

Waiver Denial:

Initial Feedback:

Guidance and Regulation:

Other State ESSA Plans:




Dr. Rebecca Donaldson
Phone: (801) 538-7869 | E-mail

Becky Peters
Executive Secretary
Phone: (801) 538-7712 | E-mail