December 9, 2016

How Can the 'Every Student Succeeds Act' Support Healthy School and Out-of-School Time Environments?

We all agree that we want students to be healthy, and that we want school and out-of-school time environments to support overall wellness for all. But what makes a student healthy? Healthy students have their physical and emotional health needs met. A school or out-of-school time site can create an environment for students to grow up healthy by providing good nutrition, physical activity, basic safety, clean air and water, and access to care. They can further support student health by helping to build the knowledge and skills for students and staff to make lifelong, healthy choices.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), 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, including:

  • Health and physical education are now included in a well-rounded education
  • State Accountability Systems must now include one measure of school climate or student success and State School Report Cards can include health and wellness metrics
  • Funds are available to provide high-quality professional development for all school staff, including health and physical education teachers
  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants can be used to support student health and increase access to a well-rounded education
  • Health and wellness data can be included in required needs assessments to provide a complete picture of the issues facing students in lower performing schools
  • ESSA defines “expanded learning time”
  • Funding continues for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Community Schools and Promise Neighborhoods.

States are currently creating ESSA State Plans that must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in April or September, 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 ensure 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:

If you have questions about ESSA or how to get involved in your state’s ESSA planning, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at