The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was passed on December 10, 2015, provides an exciting opportunity to integrate student health and school wellness into education policy and practice. There are many ways that health and wellness can be integrated into the ESSA State Plans, which are outlined in State ESSA Plans to Support Student Health and Wellness: A Framework for Action, a resource jointly created by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Healthy Schools Campaign.
Seventeen states have submitted their draft ESSA plans to the United States Department of Education (US DOE) for peer review and are awaiting feedback. One of the most exciting aspects of ESSA is the inclusion of a measure of school quality or student success, which could be a health or wellness metric, as a required part of the state accountability system. So far, at least three states have plans to include physical fitness or access to physical education (PE) as part of this indicator, at least one plans to include an overall measure of school health and wellness, and most will including chronic absenteeism (which has many health-related causes).
As 33 states have not submitted their draft plans, there is still a lot of opportunity to weigh in on your state’s plan. The final deadline for states to submit their plans to US DOE is September 18, 2017. To find out more about your state’s progress in developing their ESSA plan, visit the National Parent Teacher Association’s website and click on your state.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is committed to providing the resources you need to advocate for the integration of student health and school wellness into your ESSA State Plan, and to assist you down the road with ESSA implementation.
Check out the following helpful resources from the Alliance and our partners:
If you have questions about ESSA or how to get involved in the development and implementation of your state ESSA plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.