In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a major overhaul of the nation’s federal education law. In anticipation of this first major restructuring of the federal education law in almost 15 years, Communities In Schools made a strong case to Congress to support local programs proven to keep kids in school, improve academic achievement and stay on the path to graduation.
A number of clauses in the law make Communities In Schools a powerful and cost-effective School Improvement Support solution.
Integrated Student Supports (ISS), our school-based approach to helping students overcome barriers to success, is specifically identified as a program eligible for funding under Title I of ESSA.
CIS is encouraging states to maximize the 7% of funds set-aside for targeted and comprehensive support and improvement by developing clear, specific approaches for using ISS and community partnerships.
States get wide discretion regarding intervention strategies and accountability goals, which must now include a school quality indicator of a healthy learning environment.
CIS is encouraging states to adopt chronic absence as this indicator. Chronic absence is an early warning predictor of student performance that can provide guidance about school climate and is based on data that schools already collect.
Incorporating chronic absence into accountability systems is an important first step. States must set ambitious long-term goals for improvement and include short-term benchmarks to demonstrate movement toward these goals. To help state and local education agencies meet these goals, CIS published policy recommendations in the brief How to Leverage the Every Student Succeeds Act to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism.
Districts and schools have greater flexibility to use federal dollars through both grant programs and Title funds to address their local needs.
CIS has created resources to help districts and schools use this opportunity to implement innovative interventions, like ISS:
States must engage a range of stakeholders and partners, including community-based organizations, in the development of their overall state plans under ESSA.