Focus Areas

A New Education Law: Every Student Succeeds Act


The year-end passage and signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the first time in more than a decade—and a half-century after enactment of the country’s main K-12 law—Congress has redefined the federal role in elementary and secondary education. Signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, the new law ensures families are empowered to support their children’s learning and that all students receive a high-quality, well-rounded education that prepares them for long-term success.

StudentsMajor provisions of the ESSA include:

  • Repeals adequate yearly progress and replaces it with a statewide accountability system
  • Maintains important information about student performance
  • Affirms state control of standards
  • Helps states to improve low-performing schools
  • Improves accountability for learning outcomes for all students
  • Targets funds to at-risk children
  • Helps states increase teacher quality
  • Supports at-risk populations
  • Provides greater funding flexibility to enhance support for students and schools
  • Promotes high-quality choices for parents
  • Maintains and strengthens critical programs.


California State PTA offered the following input during a public hearing on January 19 as guidance to the drafting of the regulations for implementation for ESSA:

  • Accountability — California State PTA supports a single coherent accountability system that incorporates the federal requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act and builds upon the work currently being done in California to develop an accountability system based on multiple measures that clearly show how students, schools and districts are doing.
    • We recommend the U.S. Department of Education regulations provide guidance while supporting existing efforts such as those in California where stakeholders, practitioners, and policymakers have been working diligently to develop an accountability system that meets the needs of our large, diverse student population and focuses on improved student outcomes and closure of opportunity and achievement gaps.
    • We call for regulations that allow us to continue to develop our system of multiple measures which capture the basic conditions of learning, pupil outcomes, and engagement and will identify districts, schools and subgroups that need support and intervention to ensure closure of the opportunity and achievement gaps and that all students graduate college and career ready.
    • We urge the development of regulations that meet the federal requirements while allowing states the flexibility to design overall accountability systems to best meet the needs of their students, which in California is over six million children, and to communicate key information to stakeholders with clarity.
  • Family Engagement — Parent and family engagement is one of our organization’s primary concerns and is clearly identified in California statute as a state priority.
    • We encourage the Department of Education to seize opportunities to strengthen the family engagement component of the regulations moving forward. Parent engagement is the greatest predictor of student success and regulations that support parent engagement, along with resources and accountability, will serve all students well. We urge regulations that support a broader vision that than simply regional Parent Centers.
    • Families and their communities need to be empowered through programs and activities that promote parent engagement in schools, supports parents as their children’s first teachers, develop parent leaders, encourage parents to advocate for a complete education that includes a full curriculum to close the access, achievement and opportunity gap.
    • We need regulations that make it a priority for schools, districts and states to engage parents in supporting their schools and engaging in decision making and accountability. Parent engagement should never be viewed as a requirement to “check-off” or a location to meet… but an ongoing, interactive process and we believe the ESSA regulations could help drive this process.

California State PTA recognizes that the reauthorization of ESSA was the first step and looks forward to working with the Department of Education through the regulatory process to develop regulations that honor the intent of the law to shift decision-making to states and to help ensure families are empowered to support their children’s learning all students receive a high-quality, well-rounded education that prepares them for long-term success.


ESSA And Title I: What It Means for Children and Schools

Title I is the largest program supporting elementary and secondary education in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Public schools receive federal funding from their local education agencies (LEAs) based on the number of low-income students that attend the schools in the district. Title I is Congress’ attempt to provide all children with the opportunity to receive a fair, equitable and high-quality education, and to close the achievement gap.

The new ESSA divides Title I into five parts:

  • Improving Basic Programs Operated by LEAs
  • State Assessment Grants
  • Education of Migratory Children
  • Prevention & Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent or At-Risk
  • Flexibility for Equitable Per-Pupil Funding.

Parents and families are a critical component to the successful implementation of ESSA and to the accountability aspect. ESSA explicitly mentions parents in this process. What’s more, LEAs are required to include a written parent and family engagement policy in their education plan that welcomes ALL families and seeks to strengthen the partnership between families, school and community with the goal to improve student outcomes.

National PTA has issued a memorandum detailing the importance of family engagement for these vulnerable child populations as part of ESSA and LEAs’ funding, which can be used for urgently needed programs such as:

  • Professional development for LEA and school personnel regarding parent and family engagement strategies
  • Programs that reach parents and family members at home, in the community, and at school, such as home visiting
  • Disseminating information on best practices for family engagement
  • Collaborating and providing subgrants to schools to enable collaboration amongst community-based organizations with a record of success in improving parent and family engagement in schools
  • Other activities that LEAs determine to be consistent with their parent and family engagement policy.

Find out more about ESSA and Title I and what these new guidelines mean for California children and schools. We will keep you updated with the latest information on ESSA implementation on the state and national levels.



NATIONAL PTA: Participación de la Familia en el Cada

NATIONAL PTA: ¿Qué implica para mi hijo la nueva Ley Todos los Alumnos Triunfan?

Families: Get Engaged With ESSA!

Family and parent engagement is included in the Every Student Succeeds Act. Click and watch the National PTA webinar below to find out how families can get engaged.


  • ESEA waivers terminate August 1, 2016
  • New law effective for competitive grants (at federal level) on July 1, 2016 per ESSA, but:
    • Omnibus appropriations bill passed December 18 says : “SEC. 312. Notwithstanding section 5(b) of the Every Student Succeeds Act, funds provided in this Act for non-competitive formula grant program authorized by the ESEA for use during academic year 2016-2017 shall be administered in accordance with the ESEA as in effect on the date before the date of enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act
    • So…No Child Left Behind is in effect for another year!
  • New state accountability systems (and related interventions) take effect in school year 2017-2018 per law
  • State accountability systems effective until August 1, 2016 (but continue to support priority/focus schools and those in improvement)
    • ED guidance: waiver states may choose to either (1) pause identification of school, or (2) identify a new group of schools for improvement
      • No information on what non-waiver states should do
  • Changes to Impact Aid effective FY 2017
  • All other changes effective upon enactment date of December 10, 2015
  • Program transition:
    • Programs not substantively similar to something else in this bill will continue to receive funds until September 30, 2016
    • Programs no longer authorized but substantively similar to programs in the bill may finish out multi-year grants in accordance with the grant terms
    • Program still authorized as in previous law may use funds awarded prior to enactment under those terms, then transition to new requirements

ESSA: Family Engagement is Key to Student Success

The efforts of PTA members across the country and advocates visiting Capitol Hill helped…

  • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) become law December 10, 2015 (
  • Make federal education law acknowledge the critical role parents play in student success
  • Require families to be involved in the development of education plans and the implementation of ESSA
  • Ensure that school districts are allowed to invest more than 1% of Title 1 funds for family engagement activities.


  • U.S. Department of Education — Read the new law. Download PDF.
  • U.S. Department of Education — Transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Download FAQs.
  • California Department of Education — Summary and Key Points PPT Presentation from Julia Martin with Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC. Download slides.
  • Education Week Blog — Overview of ESSA. Download information.
  • State Board of Education — Developing a New Accountability System: Update on the Local Control Funding Formula Evaluation Rubrics, including, but not limited to, a discussion on standards and expectations for improvement as specified in California Education Code Section 52064.5 and Implications for State and Federal Accountability. Download information.