Focus Areas

Federal Education Law: Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is intended to ensure 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.

A major provision of ESSA was the repeal of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) rules of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), replacing them with a state-defined accountability system. In California, that system is called the Local Control Funding Formula.


Other important provisions of the federal law include:

  • Targeting funds to at-risk children
  • Helping states increase teacher quality
  • Supporting at-risk populations
  • Providing greater funding flexibility to enhance support for students and schools
  • Promoting high-quality choices for parents
  • Maintaining and strengthening critical programs.

On February 22, 2021, the Department of Education invited states to request a waiver for the 2020-2021 school year of accountability, school identification and related reporting requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). On April 2, 2021, the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education, submitted the waiver template pursuant to section 8401 of the ESEA, which was later approved by the Department of Education on April 6, 2021.


ESSA outlines the role of the federal government in K-12 education, creating regulations that the state of California needs to follow in order to receive federal funds.

Title I is the largest ESSA program. Local education agencies (LEAs) receive this federal funding 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 critical to the successful implementation of ESSA, particularly related to school accountability. 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. Each school is also required to convene an annual meeting with parents and families to explain the curriculum, types of academic assessments used to measure student progress, the state academic standards and the proficiency levels students are expected to meet.

As part of its advocacy during the creation of ESSA, National PTA detailed the importance of family engagement for vulnerable child populations. Schools can use ESSA funding 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
  • Enabling school collaboration with 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.