Senate Overwhelmingly Passes ESEA Rewrite, Bill Now Goes to Conference

The Senate overwhelmingly passes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill, which would free states from most onerous federal mandates, alter the Title I funding priorities and create a new preschool program patterned after the president’s preschool development grants.

The bill, the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), now goes to conference committee to work out the many differences with the House version. S.1177 passed with bipartisan support, 81-17.

The bill would roll back a large number of requirements under ESEA (now known as the No Child Left Behind Act). If enacted would significantly roll back the role of the federal government in public education and give states more flexibility in the way children are taught in the classroom.

Under the Senate bill, states would be allowed to get out of “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP and develop their own accountability systems. State test results would have to figure into these systems, but states could decide how much weight to give to them. States would also have to factor high school graduation rates and English-language proficiency into their accountability systems. States would also have to set goals for student achievement, but there would be no prescribed federal options, like there are now.

Under the House bill, states would have greater flexibility. State systems would have to consider overall school performance, and the performance of particular subgroups (such as English-language learners and racial minorities). Other than that, there wouldn’t be many federal restrictions.

 

Mike Davis

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