“This is going to be a challenging prospect for us, no question about it,” Kline said. “Schools are going to be accountable for what? And to whom? That’s an ongoing question.”

Many education experts have questioned Duncan’s prediction. A study by the Center on Education Policy in April found that 38 percent of schools failed to meet adequate yearly progress in 2010, meaning the number failing would have to more than double.

Duncan has the authority to grant waivers to meeting the law’s requirements. In 2009, he granted more than 300, significantly higher than the number granted a year before by his predecessor. The department says the number was higher in part because officials invited states to submit several waivers, including those related to stimulus funding.

Kress said that not passing a reauthorization isn’t as serious as the administration has suggested and that there are many policy fixes that can be done under the current law. The political consequences for not passing a reform might not be steep for either party, he said.

“I think it’s inconsequential,” Kress said. “The issues that separate them are so great. To come to an agreement on a modest bill that is restrained and modest, I don’t think anybody runs on that.”

For more news on education reform:

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