Wednesday, October 18, 2011, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will begin real work on its draft of the bill that will replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and will be known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Amendments Act.
Last Tuesday, Senator Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the HELP Committee released a copy of the proposed reauthorization – all 860 pages of it. Notably, however, Senator Enzi (R-MT), the ranking member of the Committee did not sign onto that draft.
Then on Monday of this week, Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi – jointly released the “manager’s amendment.” This manager’s amendment is the negotiated final draft of the bill, which will be heard by the full HELP committee starting Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 10am. (Want to watch? Grab some popcorn and go to www.senate.help.gov at 10am on Weds.)
CEC’s Take on the Proposed Bill
After the first document was released, CEC worked hard advocating for a few key changes to the bill and was pleased that the HELP Committee adjusted the draft based on these concerns and suggestions. Under this proposed legislation:
- AYP is eliminated; Instead, states are required to develop their own accountability plans, which may include the use of growth models, and must expect “continuous improvement”
- The bottom 5% of schools may still be labeled – Achievement Gap, Persistantly Low Achieveing, or Targeted Low Achieving – if these schools don’t improve, they may be subject to one of six turnaround models
- The bill allows states to count up to 1% of all students taking an alternate assessment aligned with alternate content and achievement standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities, but does not include the so-called 2% modified assessment category (Read CEC’s coalition letter on this issue here)
- The bill does not require states to create teacher and principal evaluation systems, but does include the voluntary grant Teacher Incentive Fund program, and would also codify President Obama’s initiatives - Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods
To read more about what CEC thinks about the Manager’s Amendment see our letter.
We need your help!
During the “mark-up ” each member of the HELP Committee will be allowed to offer amendments. Assuming this bill passes the Committee (which remains a big IF) then the full Senate must vote on it. Right now, CEC is concerned about two amendments and we would like your help. Please take 5 minutes to contact your U.S. Senators and members of the Senate HELP Committee about the following:
(1) Ask your Senators to Support the Amendments offered by Senator Sanders (I-VT) strengthening the definition of Highly Qualified Teacher. Currently, the draft language greatly weakens and expands the highly qualified provisions. Let the Senate know that this is unacceptable. Take action now – we have written a letter for you to send! Visit CEC's Legislative Action Center today!
(2) Senator Isakson (R-GA) has offered an amendment that would allow states to remove any number of students with disabilities from the general accountability system. Tell your Senator to vote NO on the Isakson Amendment because students with disabilities deserve access to the same education as other students! Take action now! CEC’s Legislative Action Center Together we can make a difference! Visit CEC's Legislative Action Center today!