State ESSA Plans to Support Student Health and Wellness: A Framework for Action

March 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recognizes the vital role that health and wellness play in education. This document focuses on supporting advocates who are interested in working with state-level policymakers to develop state ESSA plans. It provides practical resources and emphasizes several key areas with the greatest potential impact on student health.

This document includes:

  • How to Engage Stakeholders in a Way that Ensures an Effective ESSA State Plan is Developed and Implemented
  • How to Implement a State Accountability System that Supports the Health and Learning Connection
  • How to Create a State School Report Card that Supports the Health and Learning Connection
  • How to Ensure Health and Wellness are Integrated into Standards, Assessments and a Well-Rounded Education
  • How to Integrate Health and Wellness into School-Level Needs Assessments
  • How to Support Student Learning through Staff Wellness and Professional Development
  • How to Support the Transition from Early Childhood Programs to Elementary School

Indicators of School Quality

Chronic absenteeism is most commonly defined as missing 10 percent of more of school days for any reason. While the causes are multifold, research shows that student health and a school’s health and wellness environment are key factors.

School climate refers to the quality and character of school life as it relates to norms and values, interpersonal relations and social interactions.

School connectedness has been defined as the belief by students that adults in the school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals.

School discipline indicators measure the percentage of students subjected to different types of disciplinary actions, such as suspensions or expulsions.

Competence in the use of SEL skills is promoted in the context of safe and supportive school, family, and community learning environments in which children feel valued and respected and connected to and engaged in learning.


Case Studies

As part of an effort to remove health-related barriers to learning so that students may succeeds in college, career and life, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) developed he Healthy CPS Indicator.

Tennessee law requires the state department of education to develop parental involvement standards in public schools and to report on compliance.

Connecticut Commissioner of Education says that the state’s accountability model goes beyond test scores and graduation rates to provide a more holistic perspective of district and school performance.

The California Office to Reform Education (CORE) Districts was founded as an association of California’s largest urban school districts, now representing more than 1.7 million students.

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