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Every Student Succeeds Act: Game-changer for health and physical education

ESSA-e-guide-bannerIn December, SHAPE America celebrated a huge legislative milestone when Congress passed the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). President Obama signed this bipartisan legislation into law on December 10. The act replaces No Child Left Behind as the federal education legislation that funds and provides the framework for elementary and secondary education in the United States. School health and physical education have been included in ESSA and, as a result, states and school districts will have access to significant funding for health education and physical education programs.

This is a victory for SHAPE America, the profession, and most importantly for the 50 million school- age children across the country. Thank you to all of the SHAPE America members who have attended SPEAK Out! Day and contacted their members of Congress over the past seven years to ensure that the ESSA included school health and physical education in a way that places these subjects as a critical part of students' school day.

When No Child Left Behind was passed in 2001, one of the unintended consequences of the bill was wide- spread cuts to funding for school health and physical education programs across the country. Now, there is the opportunity for increased funding for your programs with the passage of ESSA. 

ESSA Quick Facts

Here's what you need to know about ESSA and how it affects school health and physical education:  

  • School health and physical education are identified as part of a student's "well-rounded" education. Other subjects noted in   the definition of well-rounded education include science, art, civics, history and geography, among others. 

  • The term "well-rounded education" replaces the term "core subjects" used in previous authorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

  • Subjects included in a well-rounded education are allowed the use of funds by states and school districts for Title I (low-income schools) and Title II (professional development for teachers and principals).

  • School health, physical education and physical activity programs will have access to significant funding under Title IV of ESSA. Block grants will be distributed to states under the Safe and Healthy Students program.

  • Funding previously allocated to school districts through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) from the U.S.Department of Education will no longer exist. The funding available in the block grants through Title IV will replace the PEP grant funding.

  • School districts will be able to access funding from Title I, Title II and Title IV through their state department of education.The process for accessing these funds is still being developed by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education.

  • SHAPE America will be in communication with Congressional leaders and the U.S. Department of Education as they put in place the regulations and process for implementation of the funding for ESSA. This process will take place over the next six months to a year.
ESSA Resources

Check out SHAPE America's website for more information and key resources on ESSA! 

  • Every Student Succeeds Act 101 podcast
  • What's Next with ESSA? Exchange blog post
  • Getting Started with ESSA on-demand webinar
  • Getting Started with ESSA: A Guide for Health and Physical Educators e-guide