How the First State ESSA Plans Address Health

July 19, 2017

In May, 17 states submitted their draft plans to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) outlining how they will implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and HSC is pleased to see that many states are taking important steps toward using ESSA to support the whole child.

For example, 14 of the first 17 state plans propose including chronic absenteeism and five propose including student fitness as part of their state accountability systems’ school quality measure. Including these measures in state accountability systems means schools will be required to make them a priority in order to meet goals in these areas.

The majority of the draft state ESSA plans also include language outlining the importance of supporting a positive school climate and highlighting health and wellness as a school improvement strategy. (Check out the state plans from Tennessee, Illinois and Connecticut for good examples.) There’s a critical connection between health disparities and the academic achievement gap. That’s why supporting schools and school districts in using Title I funding to create healthier school environments as a school improvement strategy is a key approach to improving academic outcomes.

While these first 17 state plans are just drafts, subject to feedback from ED and revisions by the states, we are pleased with the trend we are seeing toward states including health and wellness as a part of their school quality and student success measures. We look forward to supporting efforts in the remaining states to leverage ESSA to support student health and wellness.

To find out more, check out HSC’s State ESSA Plans to Support Student Health and Wellness: A Framework for Action, which includes downloadable guides and informative webinars on the overall framework, as well as spotlights on specific issues such as chronic absenteeism, nutrition and physical activity, and mental health and wellness.