The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the largest federal education law that has been around since 1965. ESSA reauthorizes Title I to support low income schools and provides for other important civil rights and programs in public education.
ESSA was signed into law in December 2015, and rules for implementing the new law are in process at the US Department of Education. Each state will submit plans for accountability and other provisions, and stakeholder input and participation is required. The most recent ESSA guidance and proposed regulations are available HERE.
For formed families raising children and youth with disabilities, there are several aspects of the law that are designed to increase coordination of services and improve outcomes. Some examples:
• ESSA authorizes only one alternate assessment to be used to assess a small group of students with the “most significant cognitive disabilities” based on a State’s alternate standards.
• State Title I Plans must describe the steps the State Education Agency (SEA) will take the ensure collaboration with the State department of social services to ensure the educational stability of children or youth in foster care. This reinforces provisions that have been in place since Fostering Connections Act, assuring that education agencies have reciprocal obligations, like social services agencies.
• Educational stability requirements mean that youth in foster care are enrolled or remain in their school of origin unless a determination is made that it is not in their best interest; and that…
• Youth in foster care who need transportation to the school of origin promptly receive it in a cost effective manner and in accordance with the child welfare agency’s authority to use child welfare IV-E funding
On June 23, the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released joint guidance clarifying how states and local agencies can implement foster youth educational stability provisions in ESSA. In addition, the Department of Education published a Foster Care Transition Toolkit for foster youth, their fostering families, and agency workers. The Toolkit guides foster youth and young adults through goal-setting and planning for post-high school career and education, housing, health care, and much more.
Additional great resources and videos about the impact of ESSA on students with disabilities and students in foster care are available from our friends at The Advocacy Institute.
– Link to all videos about aspects of ESSA including impacts on students who are experiencing homelessness, those with significant cognitive disabilities, juvenile justice-involved students, and students in charter schools.
Public Comments were due August 1. Comments were requested related to the US Department of Education’s proposal to amend the regulations for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to implement changes to the ESEA by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) enacted on December 10, 2015.