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Every Student Succeeds Act

What’s New for Children in Foster Care Under ESSA?

By Alyson Klein — September 03, 2018 2 min read
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Welcome to Answering Your ESSA Questions! This next question is about an often-overlooked area of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Question: What is new for children in foster care under ESSA?

Answer: ESSA made some key changes for this important population. First off, it asked school districts to break out achievement data and graduation rates for children in foster care (as well as homeless and military-connected children), just like they just like they do for other “subgroups” like racial minorities, kids from low-income families, and students in special education.

Also, the law calls for students in foster care to be able to stay in their “school of origin” (a term the law did not define) even if it’s no longer their neighborhood school. The state must work with school districts and local child welfare agencies to provide transportation. That was supposed to be in place one year after the passage of ESSA.

But state agencies, including those in places with high populations of foster children, aren’t doing such a great job of complying with that requirement, the Chronicle of Social Change reported earlier this year.

The national news site, which covers child welfare, surveyed all 50 states, beginning in November of last year. Forty-four responded to the Chronicle. Of those, 33 said they were working with local school districts to comply with the law.

But according to the Chronicle’s reporting, it’s less clear that other states have implemented ESSA’s requirements, including Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Responses from Alaska, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, and New York suggest that school districts have tried to comply with the law, but the state agencies could not “definitively confirm” that they had.

The Chronicle says that 162,000 foster children, about 37 percent of those in foster care nationally, are living in states where compliance is in question.

Got another ESSA question for us to tackle? Email us at, or

Want to see what other readers are wondering? Here are links to past installments of this feature:

What’s the Toughest Part of ESSA For District Leaders?

How Does Funding For ESSA’s Testing Requirements Work?

Does ESSA Require Teachers to Be Highly Qualified?

Can Districts Use ESSA Funds to Buy Crossing Guard Signs?

How Are States Handling Testing Opt-Outs Under ESSA?

Can Districts Use the SAT or ACT for School Accountability Without State OK?

Which States Are Eschewing School Grades?

How Can Districts and States Use ESSA to Bolster STEM and Computer Science?

What’s Going on With Testing Audits?

What’s Up With ESSA Block Grant Funding?

Is Testing the Only Way a Student Can Achieve Success Under ESSA?

Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information:

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