The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) legislated in 2015 serves as the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was last reauthorized in 2001 as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Since its beginning, the intent of the law has been to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps. Parent and family engagement and consultation have always been a key piece of the law. We know that gaps in educational opportunity and achievement will only be remedied when those closest to the affected students – parents, families, and communities – are part of children’s education.
Under ESSA, Family Engagement is inclusive of all parents, and family members need to be adequately informed and trained. Accessibility in ESSA is explained (Section 1116f) as “carrying out the parent and family engagement requirements of this part, local educational agencies and schools, to the extent practicable, shall provide opportunities for the informed participation of parents and family members (including parents and family members who have limited English proficiency, parents and family members with disabilities, and parents and family members of migratory children), including providing information and school reports required (Section 1111) in a format and, to the extent practicable, in a language such parents understand.”