ESEA rewrite passes Senate, education orgs respond

Passage moves act one step closer to replacing NCLB

senate-nclbVoting 81-17, the U.S. Senate has replaced the controversial No Child Left Behind with the Every Child Achieves act, which solidifies a commitment to standardized testing but gives states more freedom on how to hold schools who are not meeting objectives accountable.

Under the act, schools would still test students in reading and math and those scores would be used alongside other factors, such as graduation rates, in measuring progress. But now states themselves would be able to decide how much weight to give each factor and determine whether a school is meeting goals or not.

The federal government would have some ability to dispute a state’s measurement criteria, but some civil rights groups have contended that the bill lessens overall accountability (an amendment from several Senate Democrats that would have strengthened accountability in the bill was rejected).

Next page: Education orgs respond

A number of education and ed-tech organizations have already responded. ASCD applauded the move, saying:

The legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), strikes a careful compromise that requires states to establish rigorous school accountability systems for student achievement that include more measures than the current law requires, while also offering local flexibility in designing and delivering the extra support the lowest-performing schools need to help students.

The NEA expressed blunt praise:

Every student in America will be better off under this legislation than the generation of students wronged by ‘No Child Left Untested’….The Every Child Achieves Act takes a significant step towards fulfilling the original goal of ESEA: to provide more opportunity for all students, but especially those most in need. This bill reflects a paradigm shift away from the one-size-fits-all assessments that educators know hurt students, diminish learning, and narrow the curriculum and that they fought to change.

Before the vote, the Consortium for School Networking urged passage:

The benefits of learning, especially on a personalized level, empowered through technology are proven in schools nationwide. This general awareness, though, has a limited impact. Our students and educators need a firm national and federal commitment to maximize technology’s capacity to support lifelong, always-on teaching and learning. The Every Child Achieves Act makes this investment by including key measures that reduce digital inequities and provide all students with the opportunity to get connected and learn outside of the classroom.

And the Center for American Progress displayed cautious optimism.

It’s important to remember how far this bill has come from its original starting point in January. That proposed legislation would have taken away our ability to target funding to the poorest communities and all but eliminated any federal guardrails to ensure that all kids have the resources and supports they need. Thankfully, the full Senate rejected attempts to reinsert these provisions into the bill. After months of work, the bill now requires states to meaningfully measure academic progress for all public schools—including how well they serve disadvantaged populations, including minorities, students with disabilities, English language learners, and students from low-income families.


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