August 9, 2017

How YOU Can Advance Student Wellness under the Every Student Succeeds Act

As a wellness champion in your school, no one is better qualified to advocate for health and wellness as your state begins to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (known as ESSA).

ESSA is the new federal law (passed in 2015) that replaces the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind) and ensures equal access to a high-quality education, regardless of a student’s economic status. ESSA presents an unprecedented opportunity to integrate health and wellness into education policy and practice.

No matter what role you play, there are many ways you can get involved and engage others in advancing kids’ health through ESSA. Keep reading to learn how you can get started as the new school year begins.


If you are a principal

Eligible schools will be required to conduct a needs assessment and develop a school improvement plan. As your school’s leader, you can make sure that health and wellness are central to both. To prepare your staff for upcoming changes, you can offer professional development opportunities about integrating health and wellness at school. For example, share ideas about how to integrate wellness into your STEM initiatives (using the resource below).

Use these resources to support your work:


If you are a wellness coordinator or school counselor

You are in-the-know about the wellness initiatives happening in your school and you understand how to use health and wellness data (collected through the Healthy Schools Program Assessment) to support the link between health and academics. You can also mobilize your school wellness committee to advocate for health and wellness in your school's need assessment, school improvement plan, and through professional development opportunities for staff.

Use this resource to support your work:


If you are a health and/or physical education teacher

You are a key member of your school wellness team and you play an influential role in building the foundation that children need to lead healthy, active lives long after they leave the school building. You can advocate for adequate time, resources and facilities to support strong health and physical education (PE) programs. In fact, many state affiliates of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) have already been strong advocates for the integration of health and PE into the ESSA State Plans.

Use this resource to support your work:


Still have questions about ESSA?

Check out What’s Happening with the Every Student Succeeds Act or listen to our podcast where we discuss what ESSA means for health and physical education and overall student wellness. Also, find out how the first state plans are addressing health and wellness. If you are looking to collaborate or learn more about this topic, don't hesitate to reach out to me, Nancy Katz.