We read the PA Every Student Succeeds Act so you don’t have to (but you should still comment)

Help Bring Western Pennsylvania's Innovative Voice to Pennsylvania's ESSA Plan

The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released its plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The draft is open for public comment until August 31. Read it here.

This plan is relevant to Western Pennsylvania and Remake Learning Network members; it’s essential that we let our voices be heard by reading and commenting on this document.

However, it’s also 144 pages long, so Remake Learning staff dove in and pulled out this Executive Summary. While this summary is intended to draw attention to parts of the ESSA plan of perhaps most relevance to Remake Learning Network members, the entire plan is important to read and comment on if you work with youth in our region (in or out-of-school).

“All students deserve equitable access to well-rounded, rigorous, and personalized learning experiences that spark curiosity, build confidence, and help them prepare for meaningful postsecondary success.” p. 5

Check out what the plan says about:

Future-Forward Learning & Teaching

Remake Learning was founded to support today’s kids, youth that are navigating a time of rapid acceleration in technological and societal change. Perhaps of most interest to Remake partners is the Future Ready Index, “a public facing school report card that recognizes that students – and the schools that serve them – are more than just results on standardized tests” (page 2).

  • Read community comments on assessment and the Department’s responses on page 23
  • Read proposed accountability measures, including student growth, career readiness, and chronic absenteeism, starting on page 32
  • To read about how the state plans to help bring more technology into LEAs, including encouraging “LEAs to use their Title II, Part A funding, and other appropriate funding sources, to expand access to technology for all students,” start on page 93 
  • Read about the plan’s support of out-of-school learning via 21st Century Community Learning Centers starting on page 122

“Pennsylvania will use Title IV, Part B (21st CCLC) funds to support the continuum of students’ pre-K to 12 education by providing equitable access to well-rounded education and enrichment activities, especially to students who attend low-performing schools, through high-quality afterschool and out-of-school programs” (page 113).

STEM Education and Career Pathways

Remake Learning convenes the Pittsburgh Regional STEM Ecosystem, and many Remake Learning partners care deeply about engaging, relevant and equitable STEM education and connection to career pathways.

  • Check out the infographic and read about how the state plans to promote equitable access to STEM education starting on page 69.
  • “ESSA funding, including Title IV, Part A funds, can be used by LEAs to improve access to high-quality, well-rounded education opportunities, including STEM education. LEAs can also use funding to improve access to 21st century technology and the educational opportunities that make those tools relevant” (page 73).
  • View goals for STEM Education, including computer science educator training, on page 74
  • Learn about plans for creating college and career pathways on page 75
    • “LEAs may use Title IV, Part A, and other federal funds, such as Title I-A and Title II-A, to support college and career exploration and advising, including hiring school counselors and other support staff to help all students, and especially underrepresented students, have the information and tools they need to gain awareness of college and career pathways and make informed decisions regarding their postsecondary future” (page 75).
  • Read about transitions (pathways) from high school to postsecondary education and careers starting on page 87

Professional Development and Educator Pipelines

Remake Learning also convenes innovative professional development providers in the region to ensure educators feel supported to implement modern learning in their environments, both in and out-of-school.

  • Read community comments on educator preparation and the Department’s responses on page 25
  • Read about the Department’s plans to continue professional development around Multi-Tiered Systems of Support on page 49
  • Given the declining educator workforce in PA, read the plan to increase the teaching pipeline particularly for areas like STEM starting on page 52
  • Information about how PA plans to support principals and superintendents starts on page 58


Throughout Remake Learning’s history, partners have been feeling an urgent need to focus on educational equity and closing opportunity gaps as evidenced by Remake Learning survey data and conversations among Remake Learning partners, as well as regional priorities that partners have set to work on together through collective action.

  • The ESSA plan focuses on equity, as “significant achievement gaps remain between low-income students and students of color and their white peers. Similar gaps are evident with respect to high school graduation rate. Across the commonwealth, nine in 10 white students graduated high school in four years, compared with only seven in 10 African American and Latino students” (pg. 6).
  • You can see the current disparities in graduation rates and proficiency scores on pages 9 and 10, with goals the new plan hopes to reach.
  • Read about the state’s educator equity plan on page 62.
  • The plan outlines a strategy to update the PA Equity Inclusion Toolkit and implement professional development around “culturally-responsive and trauma-informed concepts” (page 91).

Early Childhood

Remake Learning started in 2007 and from that beginning has always had a focus on children of all ages, including early childhood.

  • Read about goals around transitions from Pre-K starting on page 82


Submit your comments

Remember: Submit your comments to the Pennsylvania Department of Education by August 31. 

And afterwards, tweet @remakelearning and @PADeptofEd to share that your voice was included in the process!

Published August 11, 2017

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