As Congress works to update the No Child Left Behind Act, members of the nonprofit Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) hold out hope that a bipartisan agreement will be reached this year. But they warn that more flexible spending measures proposed by some lawmakers could divert money intended to help students who are most in need.
“I think we have heard encouraging signs from the Senate that the bipartisan negotiations are continuing. We’ve heard staff members over the last few months have been meeting regularly to hammer out these last few points,” said Amanda Beaumont, director of federal advocacy for AEE, during a recent webinar focused on NCLB reauthorization.
Beaumont identified the efforts by many states to develop common assessments as one of many steps geared toward fixing problems with NCLB.
“One of the key features … that’s really important is that focus for different states to work together to develop new assessments. NCLB allowed states to set their own standards and set their own assessments,” she said. Beaumont said the goal is for new, higher-quality state assessments to appear online by 2014.
Bob Wise, president of AEE and former governor of West Virginia, added that these assessments would provide immediate feedback to teachers, allowing them to personalize lessons for each student.
Fred Jones, legislative associate for AEE, spoke of the uncertainty regarding the possible flexibility of funding in a reauthorized version of the law.
“We’ve heard there’s a possibility that Title I funds could be used for other purposes. Title I was created just for low-income students. This money was supposed to be targeted toward these students,” Jones said. He expressed concern with what will happen if money is diverted from low-income students and used for pother purposes, adding that legislators also have looked at Title III, targeted toward English language learners, for more flexible uses.