Supporting All Students: ESSA Plan Examples

Topics: Education Policy, ESSA

Read about how three states are using personalized learning to maximize their ability to serve all students, according to their ESSA state plans. Over the course of this blogging series, KnowledgeWorks’ policy team has discussed the prominent trends and leading states in maximizing personalized learning in ESSA plans in accountability systems, school support and improvement and educator effectiveness systems. Last week’s blog post highlighted the trends in using personalized learning to support all students, and today’s blog post will look at how three states are using personalized learning to maximize their ability to serve all students.


  • Multiple Pathways
    • Maine offers targeted professional development and coaching opportunities to health and physical education teachers, art teachers and CTE instructors.
    • Maine leverages multiple pathways to promote student engagement and success. Available pathways include CTE, alternative education programs, career academics, advanced placement, online courses, adult education, dual enrollment, gifted and talented programs, independent stud and internships. Proficiency can be demonstrated through student-designed assessments, portfolios, performances, exhibitions, projects and community service.
  • Personalized System
    • Maine’s strategic plan prioritizes meeting individual student needs through learner-centered instruction, effective teachers and leaders, multiple pathways, comprehensive school and community supports and coordinated state support.
    • Maine’s proficiency-based system provides opportunities for a well-rounded education system throughout the education continuum.
  • Whole-Child Supports
    • Maine has tested whole child formative assessments for kindergarten through third grade to identify developmental indicators, including social and emotional indicators.
    • Maine’s “Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community” initiative includes programming around bullying, school health policies, nutrition, school-based health services and family and community engagement.


  • Multiple Pathways
    • Oregon offers accelerated learning experiences for early chance to work towards attaining a college degree or certificate.
    • Oregon’s Regional Promise grants encourage K-12 and higher education collaboration to design learning communities that align high school through college to prepare students for post-secondary opportunities and to create accelerated learning models.
    • Oregon’s CTE system has six learning areas with 23 career clusters and promotes frameworks that allow for customization at the local level.
    • Oregon’s Department of Education, Bureau of Labor and Industries and Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development are collaborating to offer pre-apprenticeship programs to high school students for the opportunity to earn dual credit, develop employability and technical skills, potentially earn a wage and start planning a postsecondary pathway.
  • Personalized System
    • Oregon’s school districts grant credit towards a diploma if students demonstrate proficiency or mastery of standards. Schools and students can create personalized pathways that address the learning needs, interests, aspirations and cultural backgrounds of individual students.
  • Technology
    • Oregon is using state and federal funds to increase access to technology-supported personalized, rigorous learning experiences.
    • Oregon will provide guidance to districts developing Student Support and Academic Enrichment plans that include increasing access to personalized, rigorous learning experiences supplemented by technology. These programs may include expanded technological capacity and infrastructure; innovative blended learning projects; access to high-quality digital learning opportunities for rural, remote and underserved students; and specialized or rigorous academic courses using technology.
  • Transitions
    • Beginning in middle school, Oregon’s students have an Education Plan and Profile that serves as a personalized learning plan in preparation for steps after high school.
  • Well-Rounded Education
    • Oregon’s approach to education includes the whole student and his/her community and emphasizes learning experiences, knowledge and skills learning and beliefs and attributes developed.
    • Oregon has identified nine essential skills that apply across subjects: reading, writing, math, communication, critical thinking, appropriate technology use, civic and community engagement, global literacy and personal management and teamwork skills.
  • Whole-Child Supports
    • Oregon is partnering with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning to create partnerships to establish conditions, including standards, competencies, policies and/or guidelines, to support social and emotional learning
    • Oregon has an advisory committee working towards a Graduation Blueprint of elements leading to positive graduation outcomes, including supports for emotional, mental and physical health of students; seamless P-20 education system; and clear educational pathways.


  • Multiple Pathways
    • Pennsylvania seeks to expand the number of students enrolled in at least one advanced rigor course—AP, IB and dual enrollment—to reduce gaps. The Future Ready PA Index will launch in Fall 2018 and will provide data on the number of high school students participating in advanced coursework and the number earning industry-recognized credentials.
    • Pennsylvania uses a number of initiatives to promote multiple pathways to enable students to earn an associate degree while in high school, participate in career pathways and career readiness programs, engage in meaningful work-based learning experiences and be part of STEM pathways.
  • Personalized System
    • Pennsylvania has identified four priorities for federal and state funding: (1) Ensure well-rounded, rigorous and personalized learning experiences for all students; (2) Address the needs of students through school-based supports and community partnerships; (3) Promote successful transitions in early childhood through postsecondary education; and (4) Promote school climate and social-emotional learning.
  • Technology
    • Pennsylvania’s students can explore career interests, possibilities and pathways through PDE’s web-based career exploration tool. They can receive individualized feedback on job categories, interest clusters and work personality environments and then create a portfolio, printable resume and explore budgeting and personal finance.
  • Transitions
    • Pennsylvania’s Career Education and Work Standards enable middle school students to identify career opportunities aligned to their personal interests; explored relevant educational pathways to prepare for careers; and created a personalized career plan including career goals, pathways and training and education requirements.
  • Supports for At-Risk Students
    • Pennsylvania’s migratory students complete a needs assessment to inform service delivery that appropriately meets their unique educational needs.
    • Pennsylvania’s Graduation and Outcomes for Success of Out-of-School Youth Consortium seeks to provide services to improve the educational attainment of out-of-school migratory youth whose education is interrupted. One goal is that participating out-of-school youth will increase their content achievement and other outcomes as specified in their needs-driven learning plan.
    • Pennsylvania’s educational programs for students in correctional facilities are designed to meet the needs of each student. The staff work together to develop a comprehensive education plan and an Individual Program of Instruction for every student.
  • Whole-Child Supports
    • Pennsylvania has invested in programs to enhance the capacity of school districts and schools to identify and assist at-risk students through academic, social, behavioral, emotional and other interventions and supports.
    • Pennsylvania is partnering with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional learning to create partnerships to establish conditions, including standards, competencies, policies and/or guidelines, to support social and emotional learning.

The strategies outlined in Maine’s, Oregon’s and Pennsylvania’s ESSA plans can also be found in plans of other states across the country. The variety of approaches outlined above ensure that personalized learning will be maximized to support students with a range of needs and interests.