Published: | By: Carol Wood Topics: Early Learning, Elementary, Middle School, Policy What Federal Education Policy Means for Your School Get to Know ESSA | Professional Development Options | Actions You Can Take The 2017–18 school year is upon us. In this new year, there’s a lot to know about what’s happening with federal education policy and how it affects your state, your classroom, and you. The following tips and resources will help you understand what’s new and how to take action where you can. Familiarize Yourself with ESSA The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed by Congress in December 2015, provides states with significant flexibility to implement new accountability systems. Each state must submit its plan to the U.S. Department of Education by September 15, 2017. Review your state’s plan here and read more here about how states are ensuring that every student succeeds. Professional Development Options Request professional development that will help you improve classroom performance. Ask your principal and school district for professional development around social-emotional learning (SEL) and bullying prevention. A recent meta-analysis shows that students who received an SEL curriculum fared an average of 13 percentile points better academically than their peers in control groups. Recent research also shows the importance of social-emotional skills in teachers. Read more about SEL here. K–12 Education Funding for Your State Teachers and administrators know what kids need to learn. They also recognize the importance of a positive school climate. Combining that expertise with knowledge about what funding sources are available to support change can lead to more powerful, informed schools. To learn more about funding sources in your state, download this comprehensive Federal and State SEL Funding Matrix for the 2017–18 school year. Take Care of Yourself Teacher health and wellness is critical to retaining good educators as well as to classroom management and academic performance. Learn about the latest research and approaches to teacher health and wellness in this blog. Two stress-reduction methods covered in the news recently are social support systems and mentoring. Let Policymakers Know How You Feel The president’s budget proposal eliminated support for professional development and provided minimal funding for Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Programs. Contact your state education department to find out how to make your voice heard, and get in touch with your congressional representatives and senators to share your opinion. We Wish You a Successful School Year! We encourage you to stay informed about how federal, state, and local policies affect your work in education. Subscribe to our Policy News You Can Use e-newsletter to receive monthly policy updates and periodic action alerts. Sign up here. Have SEL programs like the Second Step Program benefited your students and school? If so, tell us your story! We may feature you on our website, in catalogs, or in advocacy materials. Send stories of SEL success to firstname.lastname@example.org.