With new powers under ESSA, newly appointed and elected board members will "face a steep learning curve" as they race to complete their state plans to submit to the federal government.
The federal education department is examining how Alabama and California are reporting and collecting graduation rates.
State legislators and school board members from around the country focused more on what they're doing to prepare for ESSA than on changes under a new presidential administration.
A ruling in the school districts' favor in the long-running education funding dispute could result in the state's legislature spending $800 million more on education.
A new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education offers the first comprehensive assessment on state turnarounds before the full implementation of President Barack Obama's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The incumbent Democrat, who was first elected in 2005, was defeated by Republican Mark Johnson, a member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education.
The first-term Democratic state schools chief had shocked the conservative state in 2012 by beating out Republican Tony Bennett, a school choice and accountability darling.
Prosecutors say that Superintendent Joy Hofmeister conspired with an outside group and teachers union officials to accept illegal donations to pay for attack ads.
Most states still use the Common Core State Standards, according to an Education Week analysis, though some states such as West Virginia and New Jersey have technically gotten rid of them.
North Dakota superintendent candidate Joe Chiang signed a pledge to "fight against federally mandated curriculum, standardized tests and all illegal and unconstitutional mandates from the federal Department of Education."