New Mexico - Public Education Department

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

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New Mexico ESSA Plan

Over the past six years, New Mexico has been steadfast in the belief that every child in New Mexico, regardless of background, ethnicity, or zip code, can learn and achieve academic success. At every level, Governor Susana Martinez and her administration have worked to implement initiatives that deliver on the promise of a quality education for every one of New Mexico’s 339,613 students. The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) has been at the forefront of pursuing a student-centered reform agenda, knowing that each year is an urgent opportunity to give our students the chance to succeed.
Under Governor Martinez, the PED established a strategic plan in 2011 (updated in 2017 to coincide with the state’s ESSA plan) that included five priorities designed to deliver on the promise that every child can learn:

  • Smarter Return on Investment
  • Real Accountability for Real Results
  • Ready for Success
  • Effective Teachers and School Leaders
  • Options for Parents

In December of 2015 the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law. ESSA replaced the previous law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) of 2002, and updated its predecessor the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. Overall the law represents a shift to empowering State Education Agencies (SEAs) to deliver results for students with both greater accountability and flexibility. Because New Mexico put student-centered reforms in place throughout the past six years, the state is well-positioned to continue to build on our strong foundation and build upon what we heard from New Mexico communities as we continue our rise in student progress.

New Mexico’s state plan under ESSA builds on the momentum of recent student success while meeting updated federal requirements. The plan includes a continued commitment to robust college and career ready standards and assessments, meaningful school accountability, a commitment to ensure that all students are served by excellent educators, and dynamic strategies for turning around the state’s struggling schools. The plan also articulates New Mexico’s methodology for setting statewide academic goals and trajectories and an approach to strategically utilize federal funding to best meet the needs of our students.

Stakeholder Plan Review: The 30-Day Publication Period

The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) conducted extensive stakeholder engagement throughout 2016 and early 2017 in developing a state plan on behalf of New Mexico’s students. In the fall of 2016, the PED embarked upon the largest stakeholder engagement community tour ever, partnering with New Mexico’s leading public policy organization, New Mexico First, to develop the New Mexico Rising Tour. With the aim of providing every New Mexican the opportunity to engage in providing input for the development and design of the state’s plan, the PED hosted a wide variety of engagement opportunities. These included public meetings, online surveys, targeted working groups, tribal consultation, and teacher and parent meetings.

The New Mexico Rising Tour consisted of twenty-five (25) fully facilitated listening sessions across New Mexico’s six largest communities. After the tour, New Mexico First released a series of eight reports: one statewide summary, one report for each unique community visited and one summary of tribal engagement. The statewide summary report and additional reports are available online at

Additionally, the PED has published a summary of fifty (50) major themes of stakeholder feedback that have been incorporated into the state’s ESSA plan or incorporated into other state policy, and will be integrated into upcoming efforts to improve the educational experience for our students. That document, New Mexico Rising—Together, is posted alongside the state’s plan.

With the conclusion of the New Mexico Rising Tour and the extensive public engagement related to the Every Student Succeeds Act, the New Mexico State Plan is now available in final form as submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. Further, the PED will return to the state’s communities and share how we’ve responded to stakeholder input in developing a plan for the decade ahead.

During the 30-Day plan review period, the PED published a New Mexico-Rising survey online as a vehicle for all stakeholders to provide input. Overall, over 250 unique responses were received via the online survey. We also had groups and individuals who submitted letters or emails to the state’s NM-Rising inbox, which was created for questions and uploads during the 30-Day review period. The PED received over fifty (50) emails to the NM-Rising ESSA email address throughout the publication period. Letters were submitted from individuals in addition to local and national advocacy groups. The PED reviewed all survey responses, emails, and letters received.

Teachers were the primary survey respondents, with approximately a quarter of all those who took the survey self-identifying as teachers. The second largest group of survey respondents self-identified as parents (12%), an encouraging sign that the state’s New Mexico Rising Community Tour and recent family engagement efforts are helping to develop a greater voice from New Mexico’s families.

During the 30-Day publication period, the PED was invited to present the state’s draft plan to several groups of stakeholders and visited several communities in delivering these presentations. In-person presentations included a meeting with educational leaders from Jemez Pueblo, a formal tribal consultation at the Santa Fe Indian School, a presentation and discussion of the state’s draft plan with Secretary Skandera’s Teacher Advisory Council, a webinar hosted by Teach Plus, a presentation and discussion with school board members in Tucumcari (hosted by the New Mexico Schools Boards Association), and an interactive discussion where New Mexico’s Teacher Leader Network brainstormed ideas on how to improve the state’s plan. Several of the ideas heard during these in-person dialogues have been incorporated into the state’s plan.

Additional areas of responsiveness via the March 2017 publication period include: multiple proposed modifications to New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system; heavier guidance and oversight in the PED’s approach to state and local tribal consultation; a renewed focus on high-performing students in the state’s School Grades system; new career exploration resources for students, schools, and families; specific EOCs exams that will be phased-out; increased educator involvement in state level processes around assessment selection and competitive grants; and a pilot program for teacher residencies in select districts.

The fifty (50) areas of responsiveness will be highlighted as part of the state’s New Mexico-Rising Return Tour, where the team at the PED will again travel to seven communities to share how New Mexico will create stability, continuity, and opportunity for schools and communities via its state plan. Secretary Hanna Skandera will present an overview of the final plan in each community, with a focus on these fifty areas of responsiveness, notably how the state will refine teacher evaluation, reduce testing time, and continue to equip, empower, and champion its educators.

These seven community visits will occur between mid-April and late May, with the hope of reaching the state’s communities before the end of the school year. Scheduled visits include: 

  • Farmington – April 17
  • Albuquerque – April 18
  • Roswell – May 8
  • Las Cruces & Alamogordo – May 9
  • Santa Fe – May 10
  • Santa Rosa – May 15
  • Gallup – May 25
New Mexico Rising Tour Feedback and Action Steps

During the Fall of 2016, the New Mexico Public Education Department worked with the non-partisan public policy organization New Mexico First to launch one of the largest education listening tours in New Mexico's history—New Mexico Rising. The feedback collected through the listening tour will inform New Mexico's state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is our roadmap for ensuring that all of our students are learning at high levels. Many of the foundational building blocks that are required in the new law–high standards, accountability, and quality assessments–are already established.

PED is grateful to the hundreds of teachers, parents, and community leaders who gave of their time to provide meaningful and constructive feedback during our listening tour. As we continue to refine our state plan, there are several steps which we can take immediately in response to the feedback we have received. Below are three of the major themes found in the report and how PED is responding to them right away.

CLICK HERE to read PED's Response to Stakeholder Feedback

CLICK HERE to Read New Mexico First's Report


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law December 10, 2015 replacing No Child Left Behind and the waiver system. ESSA is the national education law that reinforces the longstanding commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all students. The ESSA provides New Mexico with a long-term stability that holds states, local school systems and schools accountable for results while encouraging them to be innovative in their work. New Mexico is well-positioned to transition to meet the law's new expectations. Under the new law, New Mexico will continue to focus on many of the same areas including efforts to build upon our student-focused accountability system and provide our educators with the support and training they need.

Stakeholder Engagement

ESSA provides New Mexico the opportunity to re-engage with students, educators, district leaders, families, and the community for input on how to continuously refine our system to better support our teachers and students. The Public Education Department will be convening working groups throughout the summer and fall of 2016 to ensure we provide an innovative plan for all children, based on New Mexico's existing education foundation.

The Public Education Department will also co-host regional community meetings throughout the state this fall to solicit input from the community to contribute to the development of New Mexico's plan to support schools and student learning. Meetings will be hosted in the following communities on the following dates:

  • October 12th – Gallup
  • October 14th – Farmington
  • October 17th – Santa Fe
  • October 18th – Albuquerque
  • October 27th – Roswell
  • November 15th – Las Cruces

To register to attend an event in your community, visit the New Mexico First website.

Community meeting sessions, times, and addresses will be announced in September 2016, and additional opportunities for engagement will be announced later this fall. Community meetings will include multiple opportunities and open houses to engage:

  • Teachers, school and district administrators
  • Parents and families
  • Community, tribal and civic leaders
  • State and local elected officials
  • School boards

Community meeting dates and locations will be announced in September 2016. Additional opportunities for engagement will also be announced later this fall.

ESSA Transition and Implementation

State flexibility waivers from NCLB expired on August 1, 2016. Under ESSA, states and districts are expected to continue interventions through the 2016-17 school year. The requirements of ESSA go into effect in the 2017-18 school year, and new state plans will be due in Spring 2017.

Future Updates

Stay tuned for information about how you can sign up for email updates regarding ESSA. For more information, please contact Amanda Aragon at or (505) 629-6604.

Community meeting dates and locations will be announced in September 2016.


Ashley Eden
Director, Strategic Initiatives
Phone: (505) 827-6104



ESSA Draft Plan Release and Update from Secretary Skandera – March 2017

ESSA Update from Secretary Skandera – December 2016

ESSA Update from Secretary Skandera – October 2016

Click to View ESSA Inforgraphic
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