ESSA: Get Started on the Right Foot


As the language of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) becomes more familiar to educators, administrators and the general public, district officials must consider how the new law will impact their schools' strategies to provide all children with a "well-rounded" education.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) offers several invaluable documents and materials to help educators understand the legislation. The organization also provides an Everything ESSA toolkit that can serve as a roadmap moving forward. Two of the more informative items on the NAfME site include the U.S. Department of Education Funding Table by State (FY15-FY17) and the State Funding Tables by Program (FY15-FY17).

Three Keys to Success

How will ESSA assist music educators build a stronger brand for their programs? Here's are three essential action items all music educators should do. 

1. Become familiar with ESSA.

NAfME's Full Legislative Analysis of All Key Music and Arts Provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) [S. 1177] provides a section-by-section analysis of the law where the key terms "well-rounded," "music" and "the arts" are referenced.

ESSA Implementation and Music Education: Opportunities Abound is a toolkit that offers suggestions on how music educators might assess the various areas of ESSA and whether they are or are not already being addressed in their schools.

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), provides regular updates on ESSA.

2. Meet with your music department team.

Ensure that all members are on the same page in terms of their general knowledge of the ESSA, how the music program might be able to expand the curriculum to better meet the needs of all students and how Title I funds might be used to address any deficiencies. Under the new federal education law, it may be possible for districts to expand music education offerings for underserved districts and schools; however, Title I funds cannot replace the financial responsibilities of states and districts.

3. Schedule a meeting with the principal.

Provide a copy of the NAfME and NAMM documents referenced above. Let your principal know that you are available to serve in any capacity — whether at your school, district or even the state level — as the transition from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to ESSA ensues during the 2016-2017 school year. Your entire music department should contribute to these efforts as well. Because ESSA directs each state to adopt its own accountability plan, your input, or the input of your leadership through your state's music education association, will be vital.

Local and Vocal

This is our time. Music education has never been in a better place to determine its own future … but it is up to us. Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill's "all politics is local" quote accurately describes what lies ahead. So familiarize yourself with the details of ESSA.

Photo by from Pexels

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Yamaha SupportED. To see more back issues, find out about Yamaha resources for music educators, or sign up to be notified when the next issue is available, click here.

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