Every Student Succeeds Act

Download ESSA and Environmental Education Fact Sheet


The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind, was signed into law on December 10th, 2016. The much-anticipated bill includes language that, for the first time, supports opportunities to provide students with environmental education and hands-on, field-based learning experiences.

The gains for environmental education come as a result of years-long work by champions of the bipartisan No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Act, which sought to secure federal dollars to support states’ efforts to implement environmental literacy plans in K-12 public schools.  Sponsors of the original NCLI Act, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland authored and championed the language that ultimately was included in the bill.

Under Title IV of the new bill, environmental education would be eligible for funding through grants to states for “programs and activities that support access to a well-rounded education.” Environmental literacy programs are now also included among eligible programs for funding through 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. Additionally, the inclusion of Title IV funds for hands-on, field-based, or service learning to enhance understanding of science, technology, engineering and math subjects provides a potential boost for environmental science education programs.

The inclusion of environmental education in the Every Students Succeeds Act is a huge win for teachers, students, and schools and could potentially bolster efforts to implement Colorado’s Environmental Education Plan.  CAEE is working with the North American Association for Environmental Education to learn more about roll out of the act and how we can leverage this new opportunity to increase learning experiences in environmental education.  

Read more about the Environmental Education provision in the New Act from the North American Association for Environmental EducationSenator Jack Reed’s Office or access a White House Fact Sheet summarizing the overall bill.

Opportunities to Get Involved in Colorado

In May Colorado education officials and representatives from our key stakeholder groups will launch a statewide tour to gather the public’s input and feedback on how Colorado should implement vital components of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The six-city listening tour will include meetings in Pueblo, Grand Junction, Durango, Greeley, Buena Vista and Thornton. Expected audiences will include school leaders, educators, administrators, families and community members. Events will incorporate small-group discussions with the goal of generating ideas, recommendations and feedback about everything from state educational standards to how parents and community members can become engaged in their schools.

The new law requires Colorado, and all other states seeking ESSA funds, to come up with its own implementation plan. The state is embarking on a year-long process to engage the public in a high-level conversation about standards, assessments, accountability, teacher quality, parent and community engagement, and supports for students. Feedback will also be collected about how Colorado can become one of seven states in a pilot program to develop more instructionally connected approaches to state assessments. This is an opportunity to ensure that environmental education is part of the conversation and implementation plan.
Two teams comprised of Colorado Department of Education staff members and representatives from the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Association of School Boards, Colorado BOCES Association, Colorado Association of School Executives, Colorado Department of Higher Education, the Colorado Rural School Alliance and the Public Education & Business Coalition will present a general overview of ESSA and then facilitate a community discussion.
Two sessions will be held at each location, one in the early afternoon and another after work for parents, teachers and community members. Feedback from the ESSA listening events will be compiled and used by ESSA working group committees to inform the state’s plan. Ultimately, a plan approved by the Colorado State Board of Education will be presented to the U.S. Department of Education.
ESSA Listening Tour schedule:


  • 1-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.Wednesday, May 4, at El Pueblo History Museum, 301 N. Union Ave., Pueblo.
  • 1-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.Wednesday, May 4, Grand Junction Central Library Community Rooms, 443 N. Sixth St., Grand Junction.
  • 1-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.Thursday, May 12, at Durango School District Board Room, 201 E. 12th St., Durango.
  • 1-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.Monday, May 16, at UNC Greeley, University Center, 2045 10th Ave., Greeley.
  • 1-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.Wednesday, May 18, Best Western Vista Inn, 733 U.S. Highway 24 N., Buena Vista.
  • 1-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.Monday, May 23, at Adams 12 Facility Operations Conference Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave., Thornton.

To register for the sessions or for more information about ESSA or the ESSA Listening Tour, visit http://www.cde.state.co.us/fedprograms/essa
For more information or to contribute to the conversation, visit the blog created by CDE focused on ESSA implementation: http://www.cde.state.co.us/fedprograms/ESSABlog.



Tools for Participating in the Converstion

Webinar:  EE in ESSA with Sarah Bodor

Watch this webinar from April 2016 to get more information on how EE is included in the Every Students Succeeds and get tips and recommendations from Sarah Bodor, Director of Policy and Affiliate Relations at the North American Association for Environmental Education, on how to support EE through public feedback opportunities ESSA implementation.  Download presentation.

Conversation Points for Public Feedback Tour

Download potential talking points for use at the public feedback tour meetings.  Check back to CAEE's website for the most up to date version.  We will continue to refine conversation points as we learn more about the feedback CDE will be collecting.

CAEE works to ensure everyone in Colorado has an opportunity to learn about the environment where they live. We value inclusiveness and welcome everyone to the field of environmental education.

1536 Wynkoop St, Suite 314, Denver, CO 80202
phone: 303-273-9527
Contact Us