Model ESSA State Plan: Louisiana

Louisiana’s accepted ESSA Plan highlights music and arts, including as part of Louisiana’s accountability system

On Tuesday, August 15, the U.S. Department of Education approved Louisiana’s ESSA Plan. This plan serves as an excellent model for music education advocates on how music and arts can be key part of a state’s ESSA plan. As you work to influence your state’s final draft of its ESSA plan, here are some of the highlights from the Louisiana plan to bring forward as examples to share with your state leaders:

  1. Louisiana included music/arts in the 5th accountability indicator, meaning that access and participation to music and arts by students will be part of Louisiana’s accountability system moving forward. As Louisiana builds this new information into its state system, it will not be used to determine lowest performing schools – at least not at first. The state will continue to work with music and arts education stakeholders and advocates to determine how best to build these measures and how to include them over time into the ranking of schools.
  2. Louisiana recognizes that professional development Title II funds can support all areas of a well-rounded education. This opens up Title II funds to support professional development opportunities for music and arts educators throughout the state.
  3. As the state works to build its 5th accountability indicator, Louisiana speaks directly to the work it is doing with music/arts stakeholders on identifying gaps in programs and offerings for students. While not a required section of the plan, the state acknowledges in its plan that not all students have had access to a full well-rounded education including music and the arts, and that it needs to step up and work to rectify this information.
  4. Louisiana is encouraging districts to support a well-rounded education with Title I and IV funds. The state speaks to how well-rounded education, which includes music and arts education, can be supported with Title I and IV funds. Few states directly address the applicability of Title I funds to well-rounded education, so Louisiana remains a leader here in acknowledging the flexibility for this and encouraging its districts to include well-rounded education areas when planning how to use their federal funds.

As we head into the final month prior to the deadline for ESSA state plans to the U.S. Department of Education, NAfME encourages music educators to continue to advocate for the inclusion of music and arts education as key components to a state’s ESSA plan. Use the great examples found here in the Louisiana plan, approved by the Department and share with your state whether through conversation, surveys, or stakeholder meetings.

For more information on how to review your state’s draft plan, review the NAfME template based on the state plan template created by the U.S. Department of Education. Review our analysis of the first 13 submitted plans to learn about other innovative ways music and arts education can be included. And feel free to reach out to NAfME’s public policy team for help in analyzing your state’s plan and to build a strategy for responding to your state’s draft plan. You can reach us at

Lynn Tuttle, Director of Public Policy & Professional Development, August 23, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (