Alabama | Understanding ESSA



April 30, 2015

AL: 2019 Graduation Rate Tops Nationwide List, Though Gap in Preparedness Persists

March 22, 2021

Alabama’s graduation rate continued its years-long climb for the Class of 2019, achieving the nation’s highest graduation rate and beating the national average by nearly 6 percentage points. State education officials both celebrated and expressed caution after the data was announced, with Alabama Department of...

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Alabama State DOE Announces Goals for Improvement

June 17, 2020

The Alabama State Department of Education has released a new plan outlining measurable goals to improve student achievement, including: “1) Academic Growth and Achievement; 2) College, career, and workforce preparedness; 3) Safe and supportive learning environments; 4) Highly effective educators; 5) and Customer-friendly services.” The...

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Alabama Chief Emphasizes Importance of Alabama Schools’ Culture, Climate

October 25, 2019

Even as educators across the state continue to celebrate Alabama’s high marks in the recent release of school report cards, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey is urging superintendents and education officials to look beyond the letter grades and see “what kind of improvement schools have...

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Alabama Releases School-Level Spending Data

August 4, 2019

Thanks to ESSA’s financial transparency requirements, the public in Alabama is getting a closer look at how much schools are spending to educate the state’s children. These numbers, writes Trisha Powell Crain for, are “all over the map, varying widely between districts and between...

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Alabama’s School Report Cards “Show Parents How to Help Schools”

January 6, 2019

According to, after multiple delays, Alabama education officials released the state’s second round of school letter grades. “Learning Heroes has been working with and listening to parents for several years” to figure out the best way to present the information, required under ESSA, that...

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School Report Cards Delayed (Yet Again) in Alabama

December 31, 2018 reports that education officials in Alabama have once again delayed release of the state’s “unified report card,” in part because of “technical problems with the website but also to ensure the data is accurate, according to Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey.” This is the...

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Alabama Seeks Waivers for Students with Cognitive Disabilities

May 25, 2018

Alabama Today reports that the Alabama State Department of Education plans to seek ESSA waivers from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to “allow students with cognitive disabilities to take the Alabama Alternate Assessment.”

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Seven More States Need Specifics

December 18, 2017

The Dept. of Education sent letters to Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming enumerating federal feedback on their ESSA plans.

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State Plan Submissions and Drafts

October 17, 2017

Approved State Plans Alabama: Final Plan Approved (5/7/18) Alaska: Final Plan Approved (5/16/18) Arizona: Final Plan Approved (9/6/17) Arkansas: Final Plan Approved (1/16/18) Colorado: Final Plan Approved (5/7/18) Connecticut: Final Plan Approved (8/15/17) Delaware: Final Plan Approved (8/2/17) District of Columbia: Final Plan Approved (8/28/17) Georgia:...

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Alabama Submits ESSA Plan

October 12, 2017

The Alabama State School Board has approved the state’s ESSA plan, but stated “changes will be needed in the future.” Parents and advocates of special need students have raised concern over the plan, because it “allows any sub-group (such as special needs) with less than...

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Alabama State Board will Vote on ESSA Plan

October 9, 2017

According to WSFA, Alabama’s “state school board will likely approve their version of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on Thursday, but some parents are against the plan they say excludes kids from the evaluation plan.”

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Parents of Special Needs Children are Frustrated with State Board of Ed

September 30, 2017

In Alabama, parents of special needs children say they have been shut out of the state’s ESSA process, and some are frustrated with the “seeming unwillingness of the state board of education to listen to the special education community’s concerns.”

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AL State Superintendent Discusses State’s ESSA Plan

August 4, 2017

Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance discussed the state’s ESSA plan, commenting that he is “working hard and fast” to “create an environment so that people understand where we’re going.” Once the plan is implemented, Sentance believes that there will be “real, profound change in the...

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AL Releases Draft ESSA Plan

July 27, 2017

Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance released the state’s draft ESSA plan for public review and comment. As reported by Education Week, Sentence has been “under fire” by the state board for his “communication and leadership style and the department’s attempted takeover of Montgomery, Ala., public schools.”...

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State Superintendent Announces “Pause” on Draft Plan

November 13, 2016

Due to the changing administrations, State Superintendent Michael Sentance stated that work to draft Alabama’s ESSA plan will be “paused.” During a State Board of Education meeting, members were told that the new administration “won’t adopt policies and regulations related to the act without first...

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Rep. Roby Reflects on Visit with ESSA Implementation Committee

September 5, 2016

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) authored an opinion piece in the Montgomery Advertiser highlighting her recent visit with Alabama’s ESSA Implementation Committee, where she offered “guidance in interpreting congressional intent” of ESSA.

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Alabama School Public Relations Association Hosts Community Forum

August 17, 2016

The Alabama School Public Relations Association will conduct a forum to help community members understand ESSA and give them the opportunity to ask questions.

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ESSA Implementation Committee Holds First of Eight Meetings

August 9, 2016

The Governor’s ESSA implementation committee held it’s first of eight meetings this week to help parents and teachers understand the law, answer questions, and gather feedback. The next meeting will be Tuesday, August 16th.

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Rep. Roby Holds Meeting with State Superintendents

July 15, 2016

U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.) held a meeting with state superintendents last week. Of note, it was reported that local leaders expressed “concerns about the Dept. of Education adhering to the strict state authority provisions during the critical implementation process.” As a result, Roby wrote...

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ESSA Implementation Committee Hosts Forums for Local Education Leaders

June 29, 2016

ESSA Implementation Committee leadership is working to host forums for local education agency leaders to have a voice in the development of the state plan. Comments will be accepted online through October 30, 2016.

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ESSA Implementation Committee Holds First Round of Subcommittee Meetings

June 29, 2016

The Alabama ESSA Implementation Committee – in partnership with the state Dept. of Education – held the first round of subcommittee meetings this past week. Subcommittee meetings were held on Educator Effectiveness, Schools and District Improvement, Early Learning, Title Programs, Data Collection and Reporting, Accountability,...

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ESSA Implementation Committee Launches Website

June 20, 2016

The ESSA Implementation Committee – a group appointed by Governor’s office in March – has launched a webpage that contains basic information about the committee and how the public can provide comment to the committee. Public comments will be taken through October 30, 2016 and...

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Criticism of Appointment to ESSA Stakeholder Group

May 18, 2016

State Board of Education member Matthew Brown is receiving criticism for his appointment of Ryan Cantrell, state director for the pro-school choice group the Alabama Federation for Children, to the ESSA stakeholder group, noting Cantrell’s large contribution to Brown’s campaign. Read more here.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Releases State ESSA Primers

May 16, 2016

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s primers include individual state by state accountability system fact sheets, which detail each state’s current accountability system, what could change under ESSA, and what to be asking state leaders. See details about your state here.

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Gov. Bentley Holds First ESSA Implementation Committee Meeting

May 11, 2016

Governor Robert Bentley held the inaugural meeting of the ESSA Implementation Committee this week. The 27-member committee includes superintendents and members of county school boards, school principals, state Department of Education officials and education policy advocates from across Alabama. Read more here.

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