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With the adoption of ESSA, the term core academic subjects was replaced with a new term, well-rounded education, and expanded to seventeen subjects. Appearing more than twenty times throughout the law, a well-rounded education opens many doors to expand learning opportunities for students. Needs must be identified through the comprehensive needs assessment and articulated in the campus plan.

In ESSA Statute Section 8002, the term "well-rounded education" is defined as: courses, activities, and programming in subjects such as English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education, health, physical education, and any other subject, as determined by the State or local agency, with the purpose of providing all students access to an enriched curriculum and educational experience.

Specifically, ESSA Statute lists these requirements:

  • Each LEA shall describe how it will monitor students' progress in meeting challenging State academic standards by developing and implementing a well-rounded program of instruction to meet the academic needs of all students - Section 1112
  • An eligible school operating a schoolwide program shall develop a comprehensive plan that includes a description of strategies that the school will be implementing to address school needs, including a description of how such strategies will use methods and instructional strategies that strengthen the academic program in the school, increase the amount and quality of learning time, and help provide an enriched and accelerated curriculum, which may include programs, activities, and courses necessary to provide a well-rounded education - Section 1114
  • To assist targeted assistance schools to meet their local responsibility to provide for all their students served under this part the opportunity to meet the challenging State academic standards, each targeted assistance program shall serve participating students identified under this subsection, including by using resources under this part to help eligible children meet the challenging State academic standards, which may include programs, activities, and academic courses necessary to provide a well-rounded education - Section 1115




Special Report: ESSA's Well-Rounded Education - June 2016

ESSA: Non-Regulatory Guidance on Title IV - October 2016

Principal's Action Plan for ESSA: Providing All Students with a Well-Rounded and Complete Education

Leveraging ESSA to Support State Visions for College and Career Readiness - July 2017

ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts - October 2016

ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for Civic Education - April 2017

Review of Evidence: Arts Integration Research and ESSA - October 2017 

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