Republicans’ No Child Left Behind bill passes House committee, moving away from Bush’s vision

The Huffington Post reports that the House Education and the Workforce Committee on Wednesday passed the Student Success Act, chairman Rep. John Kline’s (R-Minn.) rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act with a 23-16 vote along party lines. “Our students deserve more than a short-term fix,” Kline said. “They deserve a better law.” Kline’s bill goes further than any No Child Left Behind reauthorization attempt in recent years, moving far afield from George W. Bush’s 2001 education brainchild by dramatically reducing the federal government’s role in America’s schools. Kline has eschewed federally prescribed performance goals, a shift for which groups ranging from education advocates to the Chamber of Commerce have attacked him. Kline says preserving the requirement that states must report student test scores by ethnicity, language ability and socioeconomic status is accountability enough, since it empowers parents…

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Lawmakers at odds over NCLB’s successor

Harkin’s proposal also includes protections from bullying for gay students.

The one-size-fits-all national requirements of No Child Left Behind would give way to standards that states write for themselves under legislation introduced by senators of both parties last week, with one key difference: The Republican version of the bill would eliminate the Education Department’s role in overseeing the standards and give governors the final say.

In stark contrast, the Democrats’ version would mirror the NCLB waiver process already in place. As of press time, 37 states have received waivers to NCLB’s requirements in exchange for customized school improvement plans.

Introduced June 4, a 1,150-page proposal from Senate education committee chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would require some of those states to tinker with their improvement plans and force the other remaining states to develop their own reform efforts. Education Secretary Arne Duncan still would have final say over those improvement plans, and schools still would have to measure students’ achievements.…Read More

G.O.P. bill on schools would set fewer rules

Signaling a preference for a much smaller role for the federal government in public schooling, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, is introducing legislation on Thursday to revise No Child Left Behind, the Bush-era education law, The New York Times reports.  Coming two days after Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate education committee, released a 1,150-page education bill, the bill by Mr. Alexander, who is the ranking Republican on the committee, will compete with it…

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Bill to alter Bush-era education law gives states more room

Renewing the effort to revise No Child Left Behind, the signature Bush-era federal education law, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, introduced a new version on June 4 that he said would “replace the failed tenets” of the law, The New York Times reports. Less than two years after Congress last tried to update the law, which governs public schools that receive federal money to support the country’s most disadvantaged students, Mr. Harkin, chairman of the Senate education committee, opened what is likely to be a fierce debate over the proper role of the federal government in public education…

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No Child Left Behind: Pass or fail?

If you are a parent of one of the 50 million public schoolchildren in the United States, the odds are your child has taken a standardized test within the past few weeks, The Hill reports. The odds also suggest that you took such a test yourself once upon a time, though probably not as early or as often as your kids. You and your children have the federal No Child Left Behind Act to thank for the modern ubiquity of standardized testing…

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Report: ESEA reauthorization could be trouble for waiver states

A reauthorized ESEA should consider that federal waivers created a wide range of accountability systems.

A new report surveying states that have applied for and received No Child Left Behind waivers finds they are worried that reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) could hinder progress painstakingly made in school reform over the past year.

The report, released by the Center on Education Policy (CEP), notes that last year Education Secretary Arne Duncan began to grant states waivers on key NCLB accountability requirements. The waiver guidelines let states depart from some of NCLB’s more strict requirements, such as judging school performance against a goal of 100 percent of students reaching reading and math “proficiency” by 2014, and implementing specific interventions in schools that fall short of performance targets.

However, states with approved waiver applications must meet several new requirements that relate to standards and assessments, accountability systems, teacher and principal evaluation, and reductions in administrative burden.…Read More

Three federal education policy updates

School funding cuts could be severe under sequestration.

As Congress nears a deadline to form a compromise and avoid sequestration, education stakeholders are hoping to avoid devastating school funding cuts that could put an end to some promising practices across the country.

A recent Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) webinar explored where some federal education policies stand, what President Obama’s second term holds for teachers and students, and what could happen if sequestration occurs.

President Obama’s education reform plans…Read More

ED considering district-by-district NCLB waivers

Education Secretary Arne Duncan seems to be softening his opposition to district-level waivers to the No Child Left Behind law. (Albert H. Teich /

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is talking with individual school districts about how to free them from unworkable parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law, signaling he is open to an approach he long tried to avoid.

The Education Department (ED) has given 34 states and the District of Columbia permission to ignore parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, and eight others have waiver applications pending ahead of next week’s application deadline.

But that still leaves eight states—giants California and Texas among them—operating under the law and set to fall short of its requirements, such as all students being proficient in math and reading by 2014.…Read More

Duncan to Senate panel: No more invisible children under No Child Left Behind waivers

Under the Obama administration’s education policies, thousands of elementary and secondary schools are being held accountable for the academic performance of students who had been “invisible” under No Child Left Behind, the Bush-era federal education law, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday, the Washington Post reports. Duncan’s remarks came during a Senate committee hearing about No Child Left Behindwaivers the administration has issued to 34 states and the District of Columbia since 2012. In addition to unleashing “great innovation and creativity” on the part of the participating states, the waivers have pulled in “hundreds of thousands” of students whose standardized test scores hadn’t been counted toward accountability plans for schools, Duncan said…

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U.S. states, local governments plead for new ‘No Child Left Behind’

U.S. state and local officials again called on Congress to pass renewed “No Child Left Behind” education legislation, writing in a letter on Tuesday that it must become “a top priority for every member of the House and Senate,” Reuters reports. Nearly a year ago – on Feb. 6, 2012 – the same groups, including the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National School Boards Association, made a similar plea to re-authorize the federal education funding law. No Child Left Behind tied funding to students’ performance on standardized tests, and penalized schools for “failing” – measures that educators and lawmakers, including current Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have said were too restrictive…

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