Bipartisan Senate plan aims to overhaul No Child Left Behind law

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee’s ranking member, said on Monday that they have crafted bipartisan legislation to address concerns in the execution of the 14-year-old No Child Left Behind law.

The duo plan for the committee to take action on the agreement and discuss any amendments next week.

“Senator Murray and I have worked together to produce bipartisan legislation to fix No Child Left Behind,”  Alexander said. “Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students, but restores to states, local school districts, teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement. This should produce fewer and more appropriate tests. It is the most effective way to advance higher standards and better teaching in our 100,000 public schools. We have found remarkable consensus about the urgent need to fix this broken law, and also on how to fix it. We look forward to a thorough discussion and debate in the Senate Education Committee next week.”

At its core, the proposed bill would address many concerns with No Child Left Behind, while keeping the successful pieces of the policy in place, such as the reporting requirements on disaggregated student performance data. Additionally, the legislation would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a law that regulates the federal government’s role in the education process. Under the new policy, states would no longer require waivers from the law. Since the expiration of the previous reauthorization, many states have been forced to request waivers.
“This bipartisan compromise is an important step toward fixing the broken No Child Left Behind law,” Murray said. “While there is still work to be done, this agreement is a strong step in the right direction that helps students, educators and schools; gives states and districts more flexibility while maintaining strong federal guardrails; and helps make sure all students get the opportunity to learn, no matter where they live, how they learn or how much money their parents make. I was proud to be a voice for Washington state students and priorities as we negotiated this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to build on this bipartisan compromise and move legislation through the Senate, the House, and get it signed into law.”

The basic changes under the new legislation include strengthening state and local control of curriculum standards; maintaining the flow of important information for parents, teachers and communities; stopping test-based accountability at the federal level; protecting federal tax dollars in education programs; providing assistance to states in fixing lower-performing schools; supporting teachers; and ending federal mandates or incentives for states to adopt any curricula, including Common Core standards.