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What Do Changes to the SES Program Mean for Expanded Learning Programs?

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With the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), California is now in the process of transitioning from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law to the new law. California is required to implement a Transition Plan to provide districts guidance on how to utilize federal dollars and programs during this interim phase (the 16/17 school year) until ESSA is fully implemented later in 2017.

One federal program affected of particular significance to the expanded learning community is the Supplemental Educational Services program, or SES. Under NCLB, SES required districts to use a portion of their Title 1 dollars for additional academic support services for socioeconomically disadvantaged students struggling in core academic subjects. Districts were required to give parents options for these services based on a state-approved list of SES providers. For some time there have been mixed feelings about the efficacy of SES, and districts generally did not like the restrictions of the SES funding requirements, including that they had little control over where parents would opt to seek academic assistance for their students, and a disproportionate amount of this funding went to for-profit tutoring services. While our existing publicly funded after school programs would have been great partners for this, there was no incentive in the law for this to happen - and in fact these programs were infrequently utilized or included in district SES plans.

With the new law, this is all changing. The SES program has been eliminated entirely so once full implementation of ESSA happens, Title 1 districts will have increased flexibility around expenditure of all their Title 1 funds to support students in a variety of ways. For the transition year, the expanded learning field has an excellent opportunity to talk with districts about how to collaborate and leverage Title 1 with After School Education and Safety Program (ASES) and 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs, and new guidance from CDE about the Transition sets the expanded learning field up well for these conversations.

The CDE guidance to districts on the SES Transition, which was approved by the state board in May, states that students previously eligible for SES - defined as socioeconomically disadvantaged students attending a Title 1 school in Program Improvement Year 2 and beyond - will still be eligible for "alternative supports" in the 16/17 school year, but with much more flexibility in how to provide those supports. As the guidance states, "Alternative supports shall be locally defined and administered by the LEA to provide a well-rounded program of instruction to meet the academic needs of students." Further, the guidance explicitly suggests districts "Leverage existing programs that currently provide successful expanded learning opportunities for students, such as ASES."

ASES and 21st CCLC program administrators and partners should review this guidance and reach out to the appropriate school district staff as soon as possible to ensure that district transition plans for former SES dollars and activities include leveraging existing after school and summer learning programs. Go to to see the full guidance document. An enormous thank you goes to CDE's After School Division for advocating for strong language around expanded learning opportunities in this transition guidance document.

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