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 LCFF and you can read more about it here.


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.

California submitted its state ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education in September, 2017. Full implementation takes place during the 2018-19 school year.


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.

Find out more about ESSA and Title I and what these federal guidelines mean for California children and schools.

View ESSA resources from National PTA here.


Consistent with our positions related to accountability and family engagement, California State PTA offered input to federal officials during the drafting of ESSA regulations.

  • Accountability — California State PTA supports a single coherent accountability system that incorporates the federal requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act and California’s accountability system based on multiple measures that clearly show how students, schools and districts are doing.
    • We support 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 support a system of multiple measures in order to capture basic conditions of learning, pupil outcomes, and engagement, and to identify districts, schools and subgroups that need support and intervention to close opportunity and achievement gaps and ensure that all students graduate college and career ready.
  • 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 opportunities to strengthen the family engagement component of both state and federal law moving forward. Parent engagement is the greatest predictor of student success. Regulations that support parent engagement, along with resources and accountability, will serve all students well.
    • Families and their communities need to be empowered through programs and activities that promote parent engagement in schools, support parents as their children’s first teachers, develop parent leaders, and encourage parents to advocate for a complete education that includes a full curriculum in order to close access, achievement and opportunity gaps.
    • It should be a priority for schools, districts and the state to engage parents in supporting their schools and participating 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. We believe the ESSA regulations help drive this process.

California State PTA recognizes that the reauthorization of ESSA was the first step in shifting decision-making to states and to help ensure families are empowered to support their children’s learning. We believe all students must receive a high-quality, well-rounded education that prepares them for long-term success.