6 Things you need to know about the end of No Child Left Behind
In 2007, Congress was supposed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (No Child Left Behind). Eight years later, it looks like they will finally get around to it. Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee, joined by more than a dozen House members, met to conference over the Every Student Succeeds Act. Today, they passed it out of committee. The committee consolidated the House and Senate versions into a bill that they hope will pass both chambers…this year.
The bill was truly a bipartisan effort and both sides won key provisions in their collaborative effort. Republicans pushed for more local (state) control over education policy while Democrats ensured strong federal guidelines to protect all children. Both sides agreed to pull back much of the Secretary of Education’s power. Here’s what you need to know about the new bill:
Testing: In a nutshell, the Every Child Succeeds Act is not as prescriptive as No Child Left Behind. It leaves decision making to the states for the makeup of their overall accountability systems and how to intervene with struggling schools. However, states will still be required to annually test all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school. They must identify and take action in schools in the bottom 5% (based on test scores) and in “drop out factories” where less than 2/3 of the students earn a diploma. In addition, the bill recognizes the push back against testing and requires the identification and elimination of unnecessary tests.
A pilot program for a few states to create and try out innovative, new forms of assessments was added. According to Education Week, the bill “allows for the use of local tests at the high school level, with state permission. So a district could in theory use the SAT or ACT as its high school test, instead of the traditional state exam. Or it could come up with its own test for high schoolers.”
Opting Out: The Every Student Succeeds Act allows states to write their own testing opt-out laws but they will be required to have 95% participation in annual testing. However, states themselves will determine what happens to low participation schools within their own accountability systems.
Teaching: The bill removes the federal mandates on teacher evaluations. However, states may have their own laws that address evaluation systems and requirements. The bill also provides funding for teacher recruitment, professional development and new teacher training. The National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, has encouraged members to reach out and push for passage of the bill.
School Choice: The bill establishes a pilot program where local districts could have flexibility to combine federal, state and local funding to help disadvantaged children. Funding for new charter school models and grants for evidence-based magnet programs made it into the bill, as well.
Programs: Many federal education programs are combined in the compromise bill. According to Education Week: “There’s more consolidation of federal education in the compromise…including block granting of physical education, mathematics and science partnerships, and Advanced Placement.” It also adds a research and innovation program and a community schools program with wrap around services for low income students.
Common Core: The “framework” specifically states, “The federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards, including Common Core.”
In addition, this effort will only “reauthorize” the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act for four more years instead of five. As Education Week noted, “That gives lawmakers a chance to revisit the policy under the next president, should they choose to do so.” After a relatively quick meeting, the committee passed the bill today. Now, it’s on to a vote in the Senate and the House…likely at the beginning of December. We will update you as soon as we know more.