Tag Archives: Representative John Kline

Federal Update: ESSA hearing tomorrow in D.C.

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hear from U.S. Secretary of Education John King and others in a Capitol Hill hearing this week on federal education policy. The committee meets at 9 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Central) on Thursday, June 23, and the hearing is entitled “Next Steps in K-12 Education: Examining Recent Efforts to Implement the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

As the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has undertaken the rulemaking process to implement various aspects of ESSA in recent months, some lawmakers have criticized the department’s actions. The composition of the negotiated rulemaking panels, the use of outside experts, and ED’s interaction with the participants have been sources of conflict for some in Congress. Rep. John Kline (R–MN), who chairs the House committee conducting tomorrow’s hearing, has called the department’s actions during the implementation of ESSA “deeply concerning” and said that his committee is “determined to hold the administration accountable and make certain the law is implemented in a manner that adheres to the letter and intent of the law.”

image1A delegation of ATPE state officers and staff are in Washington, D.C. this week and will be attending the hearing tomorrow. ATPE State President Cory Colby, Vice President Julleen Bottoms, Executive Director Gary Godsey, and Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann have joined ATPE’s Washington-based lobbyists for private meetings this week with congressional members and staff, along with ED officials. Kate Kuhlmann will provide a complete report on the visits upon their conclusion this week.

Watch the ESSA congressional hearing live Thursday morning or read more about the committee’s concerns about the implementation process for ESSA here. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates following tomorrow’s hearing.

Federal Update: ESSA accountability rule proposed, ATPE writes to Secretary King

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) published its rule proposal for the accountability piece of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in the Federal Register yesterday. The proposal addresses state accountability systems, state and district report cards, and consolidated state plans.

As we reported on Teach the Vote, ED is in the middle of the rulemaking process for several aspects of ESSA. Negotiated rulemaking for the assessments and ‘supplement, not supplant’ portions of the law wrapped up in April. Other provisions, including this accountability piece, are being addressed through the typical rulemaking process over the summer.

medwt16002Initial reaction to the accountability rule proposal was mixed. In Congress, the partisan division again hinges on state control and flexibility versus strong civil rights protections. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced they will each hold hearings on the proposal and threatened to block the regulation through available means if it “doesn’t follow the law,” which aims to decentralize power away from the federal government. Their Democratic counterparts, Ranking Members Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), praised the proposed rule for protecting and promoting equity.

Outside of the Capitol, stakeholders pointed to more specific issues with the proposal, citing concerns about a definition for “consistently under-performing,” the inclusion of specific punitive consequences for low assessment participation rates (in situations where parents opt children out of state standardized tests), the need for guidance on ways to make school report cards more accessible and transparent for parents, and more.

The proposal requires states to have accountability systems in place by the 2017-18 school year, with the goal for states and districts to identify schools in need of support the following school year.

In other ESSA rule proposal news, ATPE submitted a letter last week to U.S. Secretary of Education John King. The letter identified two areas of the new law where ED is asked to pay particular attention to previous ATPE input to Congress when writing rules or issuing non-binding guidance. Those areas of the law pertain to an innovative assessment pilot and a new avenue for potential funding for educator preparation programs.

ATPE’s previous comments on assessments to the Senate HELP committee outline recommendations for giving states “more flexibility to innovate and choose assessment methodologies that better suit the needs of their students, parents, and educators.” ATPE’s comments note that the high stakes testing regime is ineffective and even harmful to students, and suggest that tests “be low stakes, be administered less frequently, employ sampling, and be truly criterion-referenced.” While the new federal education law requires states to maintain the current annual testing schedule, ATPE’s letter encourages ED to allow states piloting innovative assessments to test these recommendations.

In the letter to ED, ATPE also points to previous comments on supporting educators. Particularly, the letter highlights ATPE’s input on “initiatives to encourage more selective recruitment of educators by setting high standards for educator preparation and certification.” ATPE encourages ED to support states through non-binding avenues as they seek to ensure high standards for educator preparation programs.

Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for more updates on ESSA implementation.

ESEA conference committee advances reauthorization bill

This morning, after a fairly brief and largely bipartisan markup where lawmakers considered a handful of amendments, the U.S. House and Senate joint conference committee tasked with negotiating language to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) overwhelmingly passed its conference report (or negotiated bill).

While the report has not yet been released in its entirety, an “ESEA Conference Framework Summary” was released and summarizes the report’s content in major policy areas such as accountability, testing, standards, intervention, and educator support. The majority of the report was agreed upon by the chambers’ respective education leaders (House Chairman John Kline, R-MN, and Ranking Member Robert Scott, D-VA, and Senate Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-TN, and Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-WA) who negotiated a “framework” prior to beginning the conference committee work.

The Capitol Building

A handful of amendments were discussed at today’s markup prior to passing the bill. Seven easily passed with bipartisan support, one was withdrawn by its author, and only two were voted down. The amendments that passed would authorize a study to examine changes to formula funding through Title I, review early childhood education programs, establish limits on aggregate time spent on assessments, provide funding for educating teachers on the appropriate use of student data, provide for dual or concurrent enrollment for English language learners, integrate arts in STEM education, and offer funding flexibility to carry out dropout prevention and re-entry programs.The two amendments not adopted by the committee would have created a clearinghouse for teacher evaluation programs and put a cap on funding at the funding level for fiscal year 2016, respectively.

The report was ultimately passed out of the conference committee overwhelmingly by a vote of 39-1. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who is currently campaigning for the presidency, was the only member of the committee to vote against the measure, and he did so by proxy as he was not in attendance.

Chairman Kline said at the close of today’s meeting that the full report in legislative text form will be available Nov. 30 and that the House will vote on the measure Dec. 2 or 3. Senate leaders did not give a precise date for a floor vote in that chamber, but Chairman Alexander said senators will be given at least a week to consider the report prior to voting.

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Sept. 4, 2015

Before we highlight some of this week’s education news stories, we at ATPE want to wish everyone a restful and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend!


The Texas Education Agency (TEA) today released statewide passing rates for the STAAR math exams in grades three through eight. The agency reported that math passing rates rose compared to the previous year for grades three, four, and seven, but declined in grades six and eight. Passing rates for grade five were considered stable. Click here to view TEA’s full press statement.

TEA also released updated guidance today for school districts on changes to testing requirements. The “To the Administrator Addressed” correspondence notes changes to the contract awarded to vendors to administer the state’s assessment program, provides information on policies for the use of calculators during certain math and science exams, and gives details on some changes enacted as a result of legislation passed earlier this year. Regarding math standards, TEA writes, “The Student Success Initiative (SSI) grade-advancement requirements are being reinstituted for mathematics in the 2015–2016 school year.” The agency did not provide any information, however, about a new pilot program to allow for locally-developed assessments of students’ writing skills in lieu of the STAAR writing tests, which was part of Rep. Gary VanDeaver’s HB 1164 that also passed the legislature this year. Today’s correspondence also includes the schedule for release of STAAR tests in 2016. Read the full letter here on the TEA website.

In other testing news, TEA issued a press release yesterday touting an increase in the number of Texas students taking SAT and AP exams. TEA writes, “The 179,131 Texas public school students who took the SAT in 2014-2015 reflects an increase of 9.2 percent from 2013-2014. For the third consecutive year, more Hispanic students (73,635) than white students (59,921) took the SAT in Texas public schools. In addition, the 255,250 Texas public school students who took AP exams in 2014-2015 represents an increase of 13.3 percent from 2013-2014. That percentage increase is more than double the national growth of six percent.” Read the full press release here.


The public comment period on a proposal to water down certification requirements for superintendent candidates opens today. As we have reported before on Teach the Vote, the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) gave preliminary approval last month to a proposed rule change that would remove teaching and principal experience, among other critical skills, from the requirements to become a certified superintendent in Texas. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann testified against the proposed change that would allow individuals to become superintendents without first obtaining a principal’s certificate, a master’s degree, and at least two years of experience working as a classroom teacher. The ATPE Legislative Program, written and adopted by our members each year, recommends that administrators have at least five years of teaching experience. SBEC will make a final decision on the proposal at its October 16 meeting, but not before the public has an opportunity to submit input on the controversial move. Any interested members of the public can submit written comments to SBEC; find additional details on how to submit your formal comments here. The public comment period will remain open through Oct. 5.


ATPE Lobbyists Josh Sanderson and Monty Exter wrote on our blog this week about the Texas Supreme Court’s Tuesday hearing in the latest school finance case. Sanderson, who attended and live-tweeted his updates from the hearing, explained in his blog post that differences in the funding levels available to districts under the current school finance system represent “a glaring disparity.” Exter provided links to documents and other news stories relating to the lawsuit, which is the latest in a long line of school funding cases spanning three decades in Texas.

ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey and several ATPE leaders were featured in media reports about the school finance case heading back to court this week.  A press statement by ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey was published in Houston Style Magazine, while ATPE State Secretary Carl Garner gave an interview to Fox 4 News in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area on Tuesday. Austin’s KXAN News reported on how inadequate funding often leads schools to seek waivers of the state’s 22:1 class-size limit in elementary grades; ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson and ATPE member Stephanie Stoebe were featured in that news story on Monday.


Minnesota Congressman John Kline (R) has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2016. Kline has chaired the House Committee on Education and the Workforce since 2010; that committee is overseeing efforts in the House to reauthorize the outdated Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In a statement issued yesterday, Kline said, “I look forward to continuing my efforts to replace No Child Left Behind” during the remaining 16 months of his term. Kline is chairing a conference committee that has been established to try to iron out differences between two bills passed by the U.S. House and Senate to reauthorize and overhaul ESEA/NCLB. The House passed a Kline-authored bill known as the Student Success Act, while the Senate passed its own version called the Every Child Achieves Act earlier this summer.

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Stay tuned to our Teach the Vote blog and follow us on Twitter for updates on the continuing reauthorization efforts this fall.

 

 

 

U.S. Senate education leaders release bipartisan bill to rewrite ESEA

This week the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released their highly anticipated bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The two authors negotiated the details of the bill, The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, over the past two months and settled on a compromise that would significantly reduce the federal government’s role in education but maintain the annual testing schedule developed under NCLB and exclude a Title I funding portability provision.

To begin, a quick refresher is in order. Chairman Alexander released a draft version of a rewrite of the nation’s primary education law in January and a series of hearings in the HELP committee immediately followed. ATPE submitted testimony in conjunction with those hearings that dealt with testing and accountability and supporting teachers and school leaders. We also weighed in on the discussion draft proposed by Alexander. Meanwhile, on the other side of the U.S. Capitol, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released his own version of an ESEA reauthorization bill entitled H.R. 5 – The Student Success Act. H.R. 5 quickly moved through committee in early February and was debated on the floor of the full House in late February. However, in the final hours of debate and with the threat of veto issued from the White House, House leadership delayed the vote. Leaders said that move was made in order to debate a funding bill that faced a midnight deadline, but it is widely understood that the House didn’t have the votes to pass the bill and leaders wanted to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

The Senate HELP Committee will mark up the new Alexander/Murray compromise bill next week on Tuesday, April 14, at 9 a.m. (Central Time). Visit the committee’s website to watch the mark up live or access committee documents on the bill. Some major provisions of the bill are as follows:

Accountability

The Every Child Achieves Act would allow states to develop their own accountability systems, which is a departure from current law. State accountability systems would need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education (peer review teams would be established to assist the secretary of education in the review of state plans) based on parameters outlined in the bill, such as the inclusion of graduation rates, a measure of post-secondary education or workforce readiness, proficiency rates for English language learners, and standardized test results. However, states would be able to include any additional measures of performance and would have the authority to weight all measures as they see fit. That flexibility would include how much weight is placed on student performance on standardized tests.

States would still be required to report disaggregated data on student subgroups. They would also still be required to identify low-performing schools through accountability system results, but would only monitor school districts as they implement their own methods of evidence-based intervention.

Testing

The most discussed piece of Chairman Alexander’s original draft bill was the portion on testing, which offered two options intended to spur discussion among committee members. The options were to keep the current testing schedule or scrap annual testing and give states a significant amount of leeway in developing their own testing systems. The Every Child Achieves Act maintains the annual testing schedule, but does give states the option to conduct one annual test or a series of smaller tests that combine to a summative score. Additionally, in what is likely an attempt to appease supporters of state-developed systems, the bill creates a pilot program that would initially allow the secretary of education to permit five states to develop innovative testing systems. If successful, the program could be expanded.

Curriculum Standards

States would be required to adopt “challenging state academic standards.” Those standards would not have to be approved by the Department of Education, and the bill specifically states the secretary of education would not have the authority to “mandate, direct, control, coerce, or exercise any direction or supervision” with regard to the adoption of state standards.

School Choice and Privatization

The primary provision in Alexander’s earlier draft bill aimed at school choice involved the portability of Title I funding for low-income students. That language is not included in The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. Title I portability language has received strong backing from Republicans and would allow Title I funding to follow students from school to school. Democrats and President Obama have opposed the inclusion of such language and the White House based its threat of veto on H.R. 5, in part, on portability language included in the bill.

The new bill consolidates two federal charter school programs into a program that includes three grant programs: High-Quality Charter Schools, Facilities Financing Assistance, and Replication and Expansion. Additional language aims to incentivize better transparency and quality among state charter schools.

Educator Evaluations

States would have a lot of discretion on how to spend money related to teacher quality under Title II. That could include the development of an educator evaluation system, but no state would be required to develop a system, which is departure from current law. Thus, there is no language requiring the inclusion of student outcomes in an educator’s evaluation.

The new bill removes the statutory definition of “highly qualified” as well as some of the requirements surrounding the term and allows states to develop their own definition.