To help support alignment between schools and families, this brief explores opportunities for how states and districts can leverage the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to help strengthen family engagement in support of students’ academic, social, and emotional learning. This brief also makes key recommendations to states and districts to support and advance this crucial work, particularly using formula-funded ESSA programs.

Decades of research and practice leave no doubt: high-quality evidence-based parent and family engagement as well as social and emotional learning have wide-ranging positive impacts on students’ academic performance, mental health, and many other factors. When combined thoughtfully with the provisions and requirements throughout ESSA, states and districts have an obligation and opportunity to powerfully affect student outcomes. Specifically, states and districts can leverage federal requirements for parent and family engagement to support students’ academic, social, and emotional learning. As students continue to recover academically, socially, and emotionally from the COVID-19 pandemic, strong school-family partnerships can foster the learning environments that students need to succeed.

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