No Child Left Behind Law being left behind?

On December 2nd, 2015 the House of Representatives passed a bi-partisan K-12 education bill shifting authority from the federal government to states and local school districts for the nation’s 100,000 public schools.

The bill easily passed, with a margin of 359 to 64, and would replace the 2002 No Child Left Behind law, if it receives Senate approval. The House vote was viewed as a major milestone due to resistance by some conservative Republics concerned the bill didn’t decrease the federal role adequately. No Child Left Behind was due for restructuring for the past several years, yet Democrats and Republicans have struggled to agree on modifications.

The bill would decrease the accountability system put in place on a federal level, which required schools to illustrate progress academically via standardized test scores or face penalties. The authority of the education secretary would be dramatically reduced and decisions regarding academic benchmarks, teacher evaluations and other education policies would be dictated by the state.

Under the proposal, the government would still mandate that states test students in grades 3-8 annually and once in high school in reading and math. The test scores would be publicly reported according to ethnicity, race, income and disability. The states would then be required to step in with “evidence-based” programming in schools in which test scores and graduation rates were the lowest.

States, not the federal government, would dictate which actions to take in addressing struggling schools. The states would also determine how to evaluate school progress, how much of an impact test scores have and whether or not teachers are evaluated. Each state would institute their own timelines and goals for academic achievement, however their plans would require the federal Education Department’s approval.




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