By Fettlemap (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (] via Wikimedia

Among the neediest students in California are migratory youth, who change schools throughout the year, often crossing school district and state lines, to follow work in agriculture, fishing, dairies, or the logging industry. Since 1966, federal and state laws in California have recognized the unique educational challenges migrant students face and have provided support for educational programs and services that are designed to help students and their families overcome the obstacles they face because of poverty and disrupted educational experiences. The following information outlines the legal basis for migrant education, the educational programs provided for migratory students, and the resources available to educators.

Basis for the Migrant Education Program

California's Migrant Education Program (MEP) is supported by federal and state laws. The state law is a response to federal requirements for educating migratory students. Although it does not provide funding for the program, the state law sets out the administrative framework for delivering MEP services. At the federal level, MEP is authorized by Part C of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The MEP requirements focus on meeting the needs of the students that emerge as a result of their mobility.


Pursuant to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, Title 1, Part C, the purpose of the Migrant Education Program is to ensure that all migratory students can meet the same challenging state academic standards that all children are expected to meet.


According to ESSA, the purpose of migrant education is:

  • To assist States in supporting high-quality and comprehensive educational programs and services during the school year and, as applicable, during summer or intersession periods, that address the unique educational needs of migratory children.
  • To ensure that migratory children who move among the States are not penalized in any manner by disparities among the States in curriculum, graduation requirements, and challenging State academic standards.
  • To ensure that migratory children receive full and appropriate opportunities to meet the same challenging State academic standards that all children are expected to meet.
  • To help migratory children overcome educational disruption, cultural and language barriers, social isolation,  various health-related problems, and other factors that inhibit the ability of such children to succeed in school.
  • To help migratory children benefit from State and local systemic reforms.