Delaware has received final approval from the U.S. Department of Education for its Every Student Succeeds Act state plan, Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting announced Aug. 2.

The ESSA plan approval comes just days after the Delaware Department of Education submitted an updated version of the plan to USDE to reflect changes based on federal guidance, public feedback and feedback received from the governor's office.

“Delaware worked together to create a very thoughtful and effective plan, and we appreciate that USED sees the value in how we’ve designed our systems to improve student outcomes,” Bunting said. “Now the harder work begins as we continue to work across agencies and with stakeholders to support our districts and charter schools as they focus on implementing Delaware’s ESSA plan to benefit our students.”

Delaware was the first of 16 states and the District of Columbia to opt to submit their completed ESSA state plan by the first deadline on April 3. It is also the only state so far to have had its plan approved.

Implementation of the programs outlined in Delaware’s ESSA plan will begin during the 2017-18 school year.

Gov. John Carney announced in July the creation of a Wilmington-based team to support struggling schools in the city of Wilmington. The Delaware Department of Education’s new Office of Improvement & Innovation will be led by Dorrell Green, a long-time Delaware educator with a proven track record in school improvement. Green began his work with the Department of Education on Aug. 1.

The department is working with district and charter schools to make certain they have the supports they need to fulfill the ESSA state plan.

This past year, as Delaware drafted its ESSA plan, the state collected more than 1,000 comments and suggestions from families, community members and other education stakeholders through a series of community conversations and discussion groups, the governor's ESSA Advisory Committee and online surveys and submissions. The department’s framework document provided additional context around the work.

The remaining states' ESSA plans are due to USDE on Sept. 18.