It seems like we keep talking and talking about No Child Left Behind (NCLB) also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with not a lot of action. But now, the Senate is set – yet again - to consider passing a new version of the bill and they released their draft this week.
ESEA/NCLB has been up for reauthorization since 2007 but despite many attempts, Congress has failed to reach a compromise on the nation’s largest piece of education legislation. The last time they got close was October of 2011, when the Senate education committee passed – with a bipartisan vote – a version of the bill. Unfortunately, although the U. S. House of Representatives also passed a version, the two legislative bills were so far apart they never even met to discuss finding common ground.
It appears we are in for round three! The democrats on the Senate education committee released Strengthening America’s Schools Act, legislation that incorporates much of what was in its last version of the ESEA bill and includes some new policy changes. On June 11th, the Committee will consider the bill. Here is a short list of what we are monitoring:
- States that have waivers (37 of them!) could continue to use those plans
- Modified assessments (aka the 2% assessments) are eliminated
- States can count 1% of students with significant cognitive disabilities to be tested on alternate standards
- States can choose from 5 “turnaround” models for schools in need of intervention
- To qualify for Title II monies, states would have to require teacher evaluation systems based in part on student outcomes
- States must set achievement and growth targets for students
- Includes some requirements from the TALENT Act better include children and youth with gifts and talents in ESEA
Notably, Senator Harkin, Chairman of the Senate education committee and long time champion of disability rights, has strengthened the bill this go around and has secured the support of all other 11 democrats on the education committee. Even with this support, the legislation faces an uncertain future. CEC is closely reviewing the 1,150 page bill to ensure it appropriately addresses the needs of children and youth with disabilities and the educators who work on their behalf. We will continue to provide comments and suggestions to the Committee before next Tuesday’s mark-up. To read the full legislation, click on the following links: