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Latest News: Georgia’s State ESSA Plan was Approved by the US Department of Education with more opportunities for afterschool than ever before!

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the new K-12 federal education law, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces No Child Left Behind. It was signed into law in 2015 and will be phased in over the next few years. The law was designed to increase opportunities for local input and flexible decision making based on what communities and states need. A key goal of the new law is to ensure all students have access to a quality education—inside and outside the classroom.

 Afterschool in Georgia’s State Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

The U.S. Department of Education approved Georgia’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan in January with more opportunities for out-of-school time than ever before! A tremendous thank you to all of you who submitted feedback during the initial feedback period or on the draft plan released in June 2017. Your outreach was critical in helping to make sure that Georgia’s State ESSA Plan supports youth both in and out of school.

ESSA is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. Signed into law in 2015, each state was tasked with developing their own state plan to best fit the needs of their students. According to the official press release from the GaDOE, Georgia’s State ESSA Plan approved last month sets a new course for Georgia by moving toward “an education system that places the whole child at the center.”

Here are some of the biggest wins for out-of-school time programs in Georgia’s State ESSA Plan:

  • Listing summer learning and out-of-school learning as a possible use of Title IV, Part A: Student Support Grants.
  • Including extracurricular activities and summer school in the definition of “’full participation in school” for children and youth served under Title V, Part B: McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
  • Mentioning that “out-of-school time programs are uniquely positioned to provide project- based or work-based learning and /or college exploration activities to engage students and address dropout reduction” under Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE)’s Career Pathways and Educating Georgia’s Future Workforce Initiatives.
  • Stating that the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Program (Title IV, Part B) “will coordinate other programs including but not limited to; Communities in Schools and the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network as well as additional agency-wide efforts to deliver high quality service and support to LEAs and schools.”

The GaDOE has begun to implement key provisions of the plan and implementation will continue during the 2018-19 school year. Now that the state plan has been approved, it will be up to school districts to create their own plans for student supports, including how to use ESSA Title I and Title IV, Part A dollars.

Once created, local plans are only revised “as necessary” so getting your input into the plan in the coming months about the opportunities for out-of-school time programs outlined in Georgia’s State ESSA Plan will be critical. Stay tuned for more resources and tips from GSAN on how to partner with your local school districts to support the inclusion of afterschool and summer learning in district plans.