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 ESSA: Developing a Plan for Georgians, By Georgians

ESSA Public Hearings

The Georgia Department of Education and State School Superintendent Richard Woods are urging anyone interested in the future of Georgia’s public education system to attend one of eight public feedback sessions on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Meeting Details

Each ESSA feedback session will include a welcome from Superintendent Woods and an introduction to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Participants will then choose specific topics to discuss in working groups. The public will also be informed of next steps and additional opportunities to provide feedback. Before attending the meeting, we encourage you to review this one-page overview of ESSA topics. For those unable to attend an in-person meeting, a survey opportunity will soon be announced and posted on this website. Feedback can also be emailed to

All meetings will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

August 24: Columbia County, Columbia County Board of Education, 4781 Hereford Farm Road, Evans, GA  30809

August 29: Habersham County, Piedmont College (Student Commons Building), 375 Georgia Street, Demorest, GA 30535

September 14: Fulton County, North Learning Center, 450 Northridge Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30350

September 19: Muscogee County, Northside High School, 2002 American Way, Columbus, GA 31909

October 6: Dougherty County, Dougherty Comprehensive High School, 1800 Pearce Ave, Albany, GA 31705​

October 12: Laurens County, Old West Laurens (OWL) Training Center, 338 West Laurens School Road, Dublin, GA  31021

October 13: Chatham CountyHesse K8 School, 9116 Whitfield Avenue, Savannah, GA 31406

October 17: Gordon County, Gordon County College & Career Academy, 305 Beamer Road, Calhoun, GA 30701​

ESSA is the replacement for the law commonly known as No Child Left Behind, and offers an enormous opportunity for Georgia’s students, teachers, parents and communities because it replaces the top-down federal approach required by NCLB. The new law allows states and local schools/districts to make education decisions that are best for their students, and requires states to develop plans that address standards/assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools and students.

“For all those invested in the future of Georgia’s education system – and those interested in a more holistic approach for students – whether you’re a parent, a student, an educator, or a community member, I strongly encourage you to offer your feedback as we develop our ESSA state plan,” Superintendent Woods said. “If you can, please attend a meeting – you’ll invest two hours of your time in exchange for many years of education policy. If you’re not able to attend in person, there will be opportunities to offer your feedback online and via email. Again, I urge you to join us as we shape the future of education in our state.”

Georgia’s ESSA Plan Timeline

In December 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the replacement for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (commonly known as No Child Left Behind) was signed into law. The replacement of No Child Left Behind was long overdue, as it focused too heavily on a top-down federal government approach to education.


With bipartisan support, ESSA allows states and local schools/districts to make education decisions that are best for their students, rather than overreaching federal requirements. The new law requires that states develop plans that address standards, assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools and students.

As we transition from No Child Left Behind to the Every Student Succeeds Act, Georgia will carefully listen to feedback from all stakeholders interested in making education better for our students. We will partner with educators, parents, community members and business/industry leaders and lawmakers/policymakers to personalize education for students to ensure they are ready to learn, ready to live, and ready to lead.

The transition plan as outlined in ESSA includes:​

ESSA does not impact the 2015–16 school year. Georgia’s ESEA Accountability State Plan (NCLB waiver) remains in place until August 1, 2016. For the remainder of the 2015–16 school year and during the 2016–17 school year, we will continue to serve schools identified as priority and focus schools.


The 2016–17 school year will be a transition period with the continuation of our current accountability plan unless changes are required by U.S. Department of Education guidance. Full implementation of Georgia’s ESSA Plan will be effective in the 2017–18 school year.

The Georgia Department of Education is encouraged by the new ESSA law and looks forward to working with all who are interested in helping rewrite Georgia’s public K-12 education plan.


December 2015 GaDOE staff were assigned sections of the ESSA legislation to review and identify major changes, deletions, and additions

January 2016 GaDOE staff reviewed ESSA legislation by Title and Section and shared major changes, deletions, and additions
January and
February 2016
Policy staff shared ESSA information with Executive Cabinet and program staff
February 2016 Feedback gathered from LEA Federal Program staff at GCEL conference
  • Suggested stakeholders to include in listening sessions on Georgia’s plan
  • Considerations to think about in fine-tuning accountability plan
  • Recommended venues for communication
March 2016 Executive Cabinet provided feedback on Rulemaking topics to Georgia’s committee representative

Apr 2016 Establish GaDOE ESSA State Leadership Team
  • GaDOE reviews ESSA provisions and compiles list of state and federal requirements
  • Develop and finalize ESSA State Plan timeline and framework; establish working and advisory committees
  • GaDOE begins communicating periodic updates on ESSA developments through webpage, printed materials, and social media
May-Jun 2016 Initial meeting of Working and Advisory Committees
  • Overview of ESSA – federal and state requirements; USED guidance and regulations
  • Working Committees – develop sample questions/discussion points to be used as basis for stakeholder feedback
  • Advisory Committee – develop focus areas for each working committee
Jul 2016 Organize opportunities for feedback throughout the state

Aug-Oct 2016

ESSA stakeholder feedback sessions held throughout the state
Oct-Dec 2016
  • Convene working committees to begin draft language
  • Chairs and co-chairs pull together draft ESSA state plan
  • Presentations to Advisory Committee
Jan 2017
  • Public comment period
  • Governor, State Board of Education, State School Superintendent review
  • Overview to the House and Senate Education Committees
February 2017

March 2017
If necessary, reconvene committees to revise Georgia’s State Plan based on feedback

Georgia’s State Plan is submitted (date tentative pending submission date and guidance from USED; USED must approve state plan no later than 120 days after submission). Once Georgia’s State Plan is approved, presentations will be given to the House and Senate Education Committees.


Note: Timelines may change based on pending guidance from USED.