Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Alexander, Murray Announce Bipartisan Agreement on Fixing NCLB

From the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (bold mine):

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 7 – Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced a bipartisan agreement on fixing “No Child Left Behind.” They scheduled committee action on their agreement and any amendments to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 14.

Alexander said: “Senator Murray and I have worked together to produce bipartisan legislation to fix ‘No Child Left Behind.’ Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement. This should produce fewer and more appropriate tests. It is the most effective way to advance higher standards and better teaching in our 100,000 public schools. We have found remarkable consensus about the urgent need to fix this broken law, and also on how to fix it. We look forward to a thorough discussion and debate in the Senate education committee next week.”

Murray said: “This bipartisan compromise is an important step toward fixing the broken No Child Left Behind law. While there is still work to be done, this agreement is a strong step in the right direction that helps students, educators, and schools, gives states and districts more flexibility while maintaining strong federal guardrails, and helps make sure all students get the opportunity to learn, no matter where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make. I was proud to be a voice for Washington state students and priorities as we negotiated this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to build on this bipartisan compromise and move legislation through the Senate, the House, and get it signed into law.”

The senators’ legislative agreement would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the chief law governing the federal role in K-12 education. The most recent reauthorization of ESEA was the “No Child Left Behind Act,” which was enacted in 2001 and expired in 2007. Since then, nearly all states have been forced to ask the U.S. Department of Education for waivers from some of the law’s most unworkable requirements.

The senators’ bill would fix the problems with “No Child Left Behind,” while keeping successful provisions, such as the reporting requirement of disaggregated data on student achievement. The bill would end states’ need for waivers from the law.
What the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 does:

·         Strengthens state and local control: The bill recognizes that states, working with school districts, teachers, and others, have the responsibility for creating accountability systems to ensure all students are learning and prepared for success. These accountability systems will be state-designed but must meet minimum federal parameters, including ensuring all students and subgroups of students are included in the accountability system, disaggregating student achievement data, and establishing challenging academic standards for all students. The federal government is prohibited from determining or approving state standards.

·         Maintains important information for parents, teachers, and communities: The bill maintains the federally required two tests in reading and math per child per year in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, as well as science tests given three times between grades 3 and 12. These important measures of student achievement ensure that parents know how their children are performing and help teachers support students who are struggling to meet state standards. A pilot program will allow states additional flexibility to experiment with innovative assessment systems within states. The bill also maintains annual reporting of disaggregated data of groups of children, which provides valuable information about whether all students are achieving, including low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English learners.

·         Ends federal test-based accountability: The bill ends the federal test-based accountability system of No Child Left Behind, restoring to states the responsibility for determining how to use federally required tests for accountability purposes. States must include these tests in their accountability systems, but will be able to determine the weight of those tests in their systems. States will also be required to include graduation rates, a measure of postsecondary and workforce readiness, English proficiency for English learners. States will also be permitted to include other measures of student and school performance in their accountability systems in order to provide teachers, parents, and other stakeholders with a more accurate determination of school performance.

·         Maintains important protections for federal taxpayer dollars: The bill maintains important fiscal protections of federal dollars, including maintenance of effort requirements, which help ensure that federal dollars supplement state and local education dollars, with additional flexibility for school districts in meeting those requirements.

·         Helps states fix the lowest-performing schools: The bill includes federal grants to states and school districts to help improve low performing schools that are identified by the state accountability systems. School districts will be responsible for designing evidence-based interventions for low performing schools, with technical assistance from the states, and the federal government is prohibited from mandating, prescribing, or defining the specific steps school districts and states must take to improve those schools.

·         Helps states support teachers: The bill provides resources to states and school districts to implement activities to support teachers, principals, and other educators, including allowable uses of funds for high quality induction programs for new teachers, ongoing rigorous professional development opportunities for teachers, and programs to recruit new educators to the profession. The bill allows, but does not require, states to develop and implement teacher evaluation systems.

·         Reaffirms the states’ role in determining education standards: The bill affirms that states decide what academic standards they will adopt, without interference from Washington, D.C. The federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards, including Common Core. States will be free to decide what academic standards they will maintain in their states. 

For more details on the bill:

Click here for the legislation.
Click here for a summary of the bill.

11 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

To note as well from the National Journal:

-"If it survives the committee more or less intact with a respectable bipartisan vote, Alexander expects the measure to be on the Senate floor in the weeks after the committee reports it."

- "But No Child Left Behind also did some damage. It set up achievement targets that schools had to meet or face penalties. Those targets, it turned out, were poorly calibrated and put many school districts in dire situations. Lack of congressional progress on an education bill then forced the Education Department to dole out waivers to states if they met certain criteria."

"A particularly important win for Murray is the bill's allowance of federal funds for early education programs. A former pre-school teacher, she has championed the cause of educating the youngest children since she came to the Senate two decades ago."

Anonymous said...

but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement

Right...at SPS parents are never included in any decisions.

Dream on

TechyMom said...

It still requires testing almost every grade. Once in elementary, once in middle, once in high is enough to evaluate schools for targeted help.

I liked having MAP data for my kid twice a year, but even I think things have gotten out of hand.

Anonymous said...

I do like that it essentially hobbles the Dept of Ed from pulling anything like Arne Duncan has pulled in his terms. No more federal overreach in education. However, the annual testing and the charter school cash giveaway is not OK. Notice the phrase "evidence-based" being used for public & public magnet schools, but I'm not seeing that for charters.

CT

Anonymous said...

"Evidence-based" is just the management/sales jargon of the day. There is very little quality research in education. Nearly everything teachers learn in education programs is based on discredited or just unsubstantiated theory. These same theories are marketed along with textbooks and testing endlessly, but are not "evidence-based".
Parent

Anonymous said...

Au Contraire...

There is a lot of quality research into what works in education. The tragedy is that most of it is ignored because it's not sexy enough to rally a cause around.

Example: the proper use of "Formative Assessment", particularly effective use of both questioning of and feedback to students to help move their learning forward, has amongst the highest effect sizes of any instructional technique. Unfortunately, that's not something you can measure on a test, so it gets no play in the press or in Congress.

An Administrator

ATC&IMeeting said...

Directors Peters and Patu put forth a resolution that would be consistent with nCLB revision.

There was a Curriculum and Instruction meeting to discuss a resolution put forth by Directors Betty Patu and Sue Peters. The resolution would ask Randy Dorn to suspend the use of SBAC towards the use of AYP.

Director Peaslee felt it necessary to send a statement in OPPOSITION to this request and Director Martha McLaren DID NOT support the fore-mentioned resolutions.

These two directors are up for re-election and all attempts should be made to disallow them back into office. It was there responsibility to speak-up.

SPS used tens of thousands of children to develop baseline information for SBAC and neither McLaren or Peaslee spoke in opposition--when it mattered.

Watching said...

CT and Melissa,

The feds used funding to promote charter expansion. Do you know: Would the NCLB rewrite disallow this practice?

Anonymous said...

Watching, the Senate ESEA rewrite that was released yesterday would provide money to start new charter schools and to replicate and/or expand current charter schools.

With the GOP in the majority in Congress, this is to be expected.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not to mention Obama's wholehearted support of charters. Nope, NCLB won't change that.

Anonymous said...

Watching - the latest ESEA/ex-NCLB draft is a gift to charter profiteers everywhere.

CT