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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

What is ESSA?

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the current reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which allocates federal education funding to state and local education agencies. ESSA legislation passed in late 2015 and officially replaces the former No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Key Differences between NCLB and ESSA

NCLB allowed funding for “core subjects” only, which excluded health education and physical education.  ESSA emphasizes and supports providing a “well-rounded education,” including federal funding for health education and physical education for the first time ever. Under ESSA, state education agencies have the freedom and authority to identify growth measures and create their own accountability system to submit for approval by the US Department of Education.

Securing Funding for Health Education and Content-Specific Professional Development

Local education agencies (LEA) receive ESSA funding from their state education agency (SEA). As integral parts of a well-rounded education, health education and physical education can be supported with ESSA funding allocated to SEAs for Title I, Title II and Title IV, Parts A and B.

The ABCs for HealthSmart and ESSA Funds

A. Success Story: The Every Student Succeeds Act is making a difference for health education. Here is an example of how LEAs can secure funding for a skills-based health education program and content-specific professional development. LEAs must apply for Title IV, Part A funding from their SEA. The ESSA regulations require that SEAs establish an application process for Title IV, Part A that includes both stakeholder engagement and a needs assessment process. 

B. Find out how much your district receives for Title IV, Part A from the Every Student Succeeds Act. You can request an estimate from SHAPE America.

C. Fill out the form below to download a sample template letter that can be modified and used to meet these requirements and communicate the value of HealthSmart and a skills-based approach to health education.

Download Sample Letter


Contact ETR’s School Health Program Manager Jamie Sparks for questions or additional resources:


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