Bipartisan Senate Majority Passes Every Child Achieves Act

From Diane Ravitch, news that the Senate has passed their long-awaited revision to No Child Left Behind, the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA).

The underlying legislation is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, whose purpose was to authorize federal aid to education targeted to schools that enrolled significant numbers of children living in poverty. The original bill was about equity, not testing and accountability.

And we can all see how that turned out.

The Senate bill retains annual testing, but removes federal sanctions attached to test results. Any rewards or sanctions attached to test scores will be left to states.

Wonder what Randy Dorn might enact as reward/sanction?

 The Senate rejected private school vouchers; nine Republican Senators joined with Democrats to defeat the voucher proposal. 

The bill also strengthens current prohibitions against the Secretary of Education dictating specific curriculum, standards, and tests to states, as well as barring the Secretary from tying test scores to teacher evaluations. The bill repudiates the punitive measures of of NCLB and RTTT.

The House of Representatives has already passed its own bill, called the Student Success Act. A conference committee representing both houses will meet to iron out their differences and craft a bill that will then be presented for a vote in both houses.

Diane's take on behalf of the Network for Public Education (I'm a member):

 I will say that we are pleased to see a decisive rejection of federal micromanagement of curriculum, standards, and assessments, as well as the prohibition of federal imposition of particular modes of evaluating teachers. 

We oppose annual student testing; no high-performing nation in the world administers annual tests, and there is no good reason for us to do so. We reject the claim that children who are not subjected to annual standardized tests suffer harm or will be neglected. We believe that the standardized tests are shallow and have a disparate impact on children who are Black and Brown, children with disabilities, and children who are English language learners. We believe such tests degrade the quality of education and unfairly stigmatize children as “failures.” 

We also regret this bill’s financial support for charter schools, which on average do not perform as well as public schools, and in many jurisdictions, perform far worse than public schools.

 We would have preferred a bill that outlawed the allocation of federal funds to for-profit K-12 schools and that abandoned time-wasting annual testing.

She finishes by pointing out that it will be easier to fight at a state level for grassroots groups, than at a federal level.


Anonymous said…
I don't see how you would think this bill is a good thing!

It's absolutely ridiculous not to expect reasonable uniform national standards in all public schools. Leaving it up to individual states is troublesome. If federal dollars are involved then reasonable federal standards should be included with the money.

The clean water act enacted Federal laws to protect those who live down stream from polluters. The Federal clean air act ensures polluters can't use state boundaries as shields to continue to destroy the environment. Federal courts ruled same-sex marriage is a national right and states can't enact laws preventing it.

So, why shouldn't the federal government insure our national tax dollars are working to properly educate our children. Why shouldn't we expect a boy in Mississippi to be learning the same math the same way as a boy in Seattle?

In Seattle every time the wind shifts the district buys new curriculum or it hangs on to outdated poorly designed textbooks for decades. There are no standards from school to school district to district for anything. What about charters taking the same money and having less over site than public schools.

People claim we should leave student assessments up to the individual teachers....are you kidding me, do I need to write up the thousand of issues with that?

This nation is doomed to its own demise, don't believe me go take a look at other advanced nation's educational systems and show me one where it's so simple to become a teacher, where teachers are not supported with continual top quality professional development and mentoring and where poorly performing teachers remain employed for decades.

I want our teachers really well paid, but also held accountable for student outcomes using quantifiable methods. I'm thinking maybe it's time for the machines to take over? Boy is this State educational priorities screwed up when the 5 top state employee salaries go to sports coaches! Play ball!


Anonymous said…
First off if the eventual passage and signing of this bill into law contains:

... the prohibition of federal imposition of particular modes of evaluating teachers.

When does WA state gets its NCLB waiver? The waiver that Arne (the big bully) Duncan refused because WA did not use Value Added Measures in evaluating teachers. That Duncan decision cost WA $$$$.

MW wrote:
"Wonder what Randy Dorn might enact as reward/sanction?"

Since this is the "Every Child Achieves Act" lets look at what Black children have achieved in WA state according to NAEP test results.

{{ Background Terri Bergeson was elected SPI in 1996, 2000, 2004. Randy Dorn was elected SPI in 2008 and 2012 }}

4th grade Math
.. .. .. . All .. Black .. . White :-: (White - Black gap)
1996 :: 225.05 :: 202.01 :: 228.55 :-: (26.54)
2005 :: 241.68 :: 230.89 :: 246.38 :-: (15.49)
2013 :: 246.29 :: 230.56 :: 251.24 :-: (20.68)
{{ Big improvement for Black students 1996-2005
but nothing 2005-2013}}

8th grade Math
.. .. .. . All .. Black .. . White :-: (White - Black gap)
1996 :: 276.12 :: 243.09 :: 280.81 :-: (37.72)
2005 :: 285.05 :: 265.40 :: 288.81 :-: (23.41)
2013 :: 289.96 :: 268.67 :: 295.92 :-: (27.25)
{{Big Gap reduction 1996-2005}}

4th grade Reading
.. .. .. . All .. Black .. . White :-: (White - Black gap)
1996 :: 218.16 :: 203.84 :: 221.28 :-: (17.44)
2005 :: 223.49 :: 211.72 :: 227.89 :-: (16.17)
2013 :: 225.05 :: 211.04 :: 231.52 :-: (20.48)

8th grade Reading
.. .. .. . All .. Black .. . White :-: (White - Black gap)
1996 :: 263.82 :: 242.35 :: 267.18 :-: (24.83)
2005 :: 264.66 :: 255.05 :: 267.86 :-: (22.81)
2013 :: 272.04 :: 257.57 :: 278.83 :-: (21.26)

NAEP estimates that 10 points is about one grade level.
So for READING in 2013 at grade 4 Black students average is 2 grades below White students average and is about the same for grade 8.

In MATH there were significant gap reductions from 1996 to 2005 at both the 4th and 8th grade levels. From 2005 to 2013 those gaps widened.

The Black student average in Math in 2013 in grade 8 is more than 2.5 grade levels behind the White student average.

What is Randy Dorn likely to do?
Beat me. His policies have certainly made it less likely that low achieving students will receive appropriate instruction in high school math. 25% of 8th grade students perform well below standard in MSP math and have for many years. My guess would be Mr. Dorn will continue to do little to effectively address this problem and continue unreasonable math expectations for low achieving students in high school.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
MJ, I think your perception of education in the USA needs to factor in additional facts.

First the education system in the USA as far as what is being provided by teachers is really quite good.
Why is there little recognition that this "SYSTEM PROBLEM" if there is one, is largely caused by administrators and "Education Leaders".

Second - One size fits all is particularly inappropriate in a nation as diverse as the USA.

Third read this =>
The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
You want to hold teachers accountable for student outcomes without doing anything about the inputs? If anything, the Feds should be ensuring that all kids have safe places to live, food, clothing, medical care and affordable childcare/daycare/preschool. Only when all kids can enter school on equal footing should teachers be held accountable for student outcomes, and even then quantifiable doesn't tell the whole story. We cannot have national standards when parts of our country still have people living in third world conditions.

This bill is not perfect in the least, but it sure beats the current punitive, non-research-based NCLB crap districts, schools, teachers, and kids have been suffering through for the past decade. It's a start, even though many more things still need to change.

Jan said…
Ok, MJ -- I will bite.

You said: "It's absolutely ridiculous not to expect reasonable uniform national standards in all public schools. Leaving it up to individual states is troublesome. If federal dollars are involved then reasonable federal standards should be included with the money."

On the contrary, it is absolutely ridiculous TO require uniform national standards in all public schools. I am aware that some foreign countries do it -- most of them are geographically smaller than many of our states, and considerably more homogenous (ethnically and financially) than ANY U.S. state. We won WWII and the Cold War, put a man on the moon, and made many other advancements, both technological and humanitarian, all without "uniform national standards." Moreover, the millions of U.S. kids who go to private schools won't be abiding by those standards anyway -- and many of them will attend and graduate from our nation's universities just fine -- so WHY do we need national standards?

The government disburses federal dollars all the time without demanding the kind of top down control over how the money is spent that you suggest -- including Medicare Advantage plans, US paid health insurance, highway road money that goes to private contractors, social security benefits, federal grants and student loans at the college level, etc. Are there SOME rules around how money is spent (audits, wage rules, anti-discrimination laws, etc.) -- why yes, there are. But before the government gives you a PELL grant, it doesn't require that you submit a syllabus, or go ONLY to an "approved college" teaching Federally approved curricula (yes -- the place has to be accredited, and probably has some federal reporting requirements -- but not a dictated curriculum. The same with federal health care money. When the government distributes Title I money -- it gets all kinds of "say" in stuff. I get it. That is the price of the money. But NEVER NEVER NEVER has anyone attempted to abuse the federal funding process like Arne Duncan has -- and NEVER before has an Ed Secretary done the kind of damage to public schools and education that Arne Duncan has. He really stands alone on this. Flexibility and innovation are "bottom up" concepts. They are destroyed by top-down micromanagement.

continued --
Anonymous said…
You argue: "The clean water act enacted Federal laws to protect those who live down stream from polluters. The Federal clean air act ensures polluters can't use state boundaries as shields to continue to destroy the environment. Federal courts ruled same-sex marriage is a national right and states can't enact laws preventing it."

Yes, both the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are broad-reaching legislative/regulatory schemes, but there are many many differences between protection of natural resources and federally mandated education standards. Here are a few:
First -- the federal government owns/has authority over ALL navigable water in the U.S. -- all of it, and since water has a troublesome way of not staying where you put it, it also gives them authority over water that has a connection, or nexus, to navigable water. Thus -- to some extent (I do not argue that this is ALL the Clean Water Act does -- but it is a lot of it) -- they are just managing their own resource, which they have a right to do. Our children and our schools, though, do NOT belong to the federal government. The schools belong to their districts (except in places like Detroit where the state has taken them over and is giving them away -- but that is a different post) and the kids belong -- to themselves. The feds ability to reach in and tell kids, their parents, and their school districts what they can and cannot do is a far cry from regulating the nation's waterways.
Second -- much of what the government was doing under the Clean Water Act was protecting the resources AGAINST corporate predation (and harm by individuals, too, but the biggest of the bad boys were corporations and businesses causing pollution and/or run-off problems. With the Department of Education, it is the opposite. People much smarter than I am believe that much of the standardization/testing push has been an attempt to homogenize the educational playing field enough so that the really big corporate spenders find it worth their while to invest in trying to make a profit there. Pitching stuff to 5000 little districts is a hassle. If you can pitch to the entire country (because they all have to learn the same things, and take the same tests) why, there is MUCH more money to be made there!!! If the EPA/Clean water folks are the shepherds, -- protecting their flock of waterways from ravening polluters, Arne and his friends are the wolves in sheep's clothing -- busy unlatching the gates and knocking down the walls so it is less trouble for the wolves to come in.
Not all federal regulatory schemes are the same -- and I don't see that federal clean air and water governance provides a fair comparison to what the Department of Education is doing.

Jan said…
Sorry, Melissa-- anonymous above is me.
Anonymous said…
Right on CT,

Equal Outcomes = Baloney

The school should enable each student to maximize their potential.

There are so many variables that effect potential - genetics & environment for starters.

-- Dan Dempsey
Jan said…
You ask: So, why shouldn't the federal government insure our national tax dollars are working to properly educate our children. Why shouldn't we expect a boy in Mississippi to be learning the same math the same way as a boy in Seattle?

Well -- to answer the first question -- very little of the money that educates our kids comes from the federal government. The vast majority of it comes from state tax money, and local levies. By your own argument -- these entities should then have the lion's share of the say as to what they do with THEIR money. The feds do get their pound of regulatory flesh wherever their money goes (Title I, special ed funds, etc.). There is no reason they should get more (and I for one would far rather forgo federal money -- and work to defund the Department of Ed's el-hi school programs -- rather than let the feds say that they now run the place by virtue of little injections of funds here and there.

And as for the boy in Mississippi -- two things. First, I don't even think the boy in the seat NEXT to my kid should be learning "the same math in the same way" -- because learning is a "one brain -- matched up against knowledge and opinions" kind of thing. Not all kids learn well using the same techniques -- and not all of them learn at the same pace (I personally know two of those "boys who couldn't read at all until 8 or 9, when suddenly it all clicked and they were reading chapter books a month later." Kids who are going to become heavy equipment operators need different educations and skill sets than kids who are gunning for Phds in physics at MIT, and both of those differ from the kid who wants a performing career as a cellist. (And no, I am not saying they shouldn't all read Shakespeare, and the Iliad, and take Algebra, and learn a foreign language). And finally, there are many states in the country whose elected leaders believe that people AND dinosaurs all walked the earth together 3500 years ago (but not much earlier than that -- because that is when God created it). There are others actively teaching that global warming is a hoax, or trying to erase from history books whichever of the nation's founders is currently out of vogue. There are lots of legislators, lobbyists, etc. back in DC right now who would be happy to decide for me what my kid should learn (and which of their corporate buds gets to make a fortune off the books and tests). None of them -- NONE cares as much about my kids, and the kids of my community, as I do!

I didn't say I endorsed this Act; I said what noted education historian, Diane Ravitch, had to say. And, this does NOT get rid of Common Core standards. It allows states to decide what test scores mean.

Me personally? I don't like the CC standards but if this country - way back when NCLB came into being - wanted to know how kids were doing, they would use NAEP results. Or, have ONE national test, given once in elementary, once in middle and once in high school. That's really how you would know how states are doing and public school children as a whole.

I HATE the money for charters.

Glad that voucher amendment was squashed.

It's a start. And it's a good start to undo what Arne Duncan has done.
Anonymous said…
The next step is to get the State legislature to discard the Common Core State Standards and with that the SBAC.

Randy Dorn was a big pusher of both. -- Gates money talks.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said…
Of coarse teachers should have input around how they with work with students to achieve results, but you can't expect new teachers to be successful for 3-5 years, so they need guidelines and training and I think guidelines should be nationally standardized and developed using federal funding. Evidence based approaches only please, no more sales pitches on the latest fads in teaching and nothing like TFA (barf). In my opinion it's just too easy to land a teaching job. Which doesn't make sense considering how difficult the job is to do well. So, lets up the salary along with the prerequisite requirements. I believe that teachers will either rise to the occasion or choose another vocation.

Anonymous said…
MJ - lots of teachers opt out by year 5. I think it's about 50%.

The amount of planning time for teachers in the US is way less than in most high performing nations. Thus many teachers decide to do something other than continue teaching.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Is that the teacher drop out percentage for Seattle? I'm not sure why there would be any restrictions on planning time? Do you mean teachers want more money for planning time, that's different?

It's clear to me why we have common core and standards. All these issues end up in a circular argument like the chicken and the egg. We need a curriculum baseline and we need standardize ways of progress measurements. Lets get to a point of mutual agreement so we can get back to serving the only entity that matters..THE STUDENTS!

In the end it's students outcomes that matter. Districts exist to serve the students, not create jobs for adults. JSCEE doesn't understand this concept and neither does SEA.

I would think the community of SPS parents have had it with both.

Anonymous said…
MJ - In many US schools there is a seven period day with teachers teaching 6 periods and having one for planning at the secondary school level. In high scoring Asian countries more planning is part of a teachers day. In elementary schools this disparity is even worse.

Most big buck privates independent schools like Lakeside and Charles Wright have way more plan time for teachers than putting license school counterparts.
Currently the "Common Core State Standards " are hardly either Internationally competitive or internationally benchmarked. The use of the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction is not required until grade four.

-- Dan Dempsey

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