Recommendation to the Next Administration: ESSA Implementation

October 27, 2016

The next President of the United States has the opportunity to play a powerful role in creating the conditions of student health in our nation’s schools and giving all children a chance for a healthy, brighter tomorrow. Healthy Schools Campaign has released our recommendations for the next administration on supporting school health. Today, we are featuring the second of these recommendations. We invite you to read HSC’s full set of recommendations and stay tuned for more on the blog in the weeks ahead.

Healthy Schools Campaign calls on the next administration to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in a way that supports health and wellness.

In December 2015, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan ESSA, a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This is the first major overhaul of our national education law since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was signed into law in 2001.

ESSA recognizes the need for schools to support the whole child and specifically acknowledges the importance of mental health and wellness. The implementation of ESSA at the federal level and compliance with the new law at the state and local levels provides an opportunity to more fully integrate health and wellness into education. In short, ESSA can put policies into place that leverage what we already know: Healthy students are better prepared to learn and more likely to succeed at school.

ESSA implementation provides a number of policy levers for promoting student health and wellness, from accountability systems to professional development and stakeholder engagement. For an overview of these opportunities, see HSC’s ESSA policy resources.

While ESSA transfers a significant amount of authority from the federal government to the state government, the next administration can play a key role in providing guidance, technical assistance and other support for ESSA implementation. In summary, HSC recommends that the next administration:

  • Develop a robust set of guidance for states and school districts for how to support student health and wellness under ESSA.
  • Establish a robust training and technical assistance program to help states and school districts fully integrate health and wellness into implementation of ESSA.
  • Increase the Department of Education’s capacity to support health and wellness by redefining and expanding the role of the Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) and appointing a Deputy Assistant Secretary to lead the effort to fully integrate health and wellness into ED’s policy and practices.

We invite you to read HSC’s full analysis and recommendations for the next administration.