Tag Archives: Student Success Act

U.S. House advances bill to reauthorize ESEA/NCLB

The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to send its version of a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, to the Senate. The House passed the Republican authored bill, H.R. 5 – The Student Success Act of 2015, with all Democrats and some strongly conservative Republicans voting against the bill. The final vote was 218-213.

The Student Success Act was originally debated on the House floor in February, but consideration was ultimately suspended. House Republican leadership blamed the delay on the need to address a looming shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, but it is widely recognized that an influential conservative group’s threat to score the vote negatively jeopardized the bill’s passage and leadership suspended the vote to avoid embarrassment. During today’s proceedings a few amendments were added to the agenda for consideration in order to appease concerned conservatives, namely the A-Plus amendment discussed below. The conservative group continued to oppose the bill today but chose not to score the vote. (NOTE: Scoring a vote is when a stakeholder group urges either a favorable or unfavorable vote and then uses each member’s individual vote to score their individual, overall performance. These votes and members’ overall scores are often used to support or unseat incumbents in the elections that follow.)

When proceedings on the full bill were postponed in February, eleven yet-to-be-voted-on amendments were also postponed. Some 27 amendments had already been adopted and the remaining eleven amendments were voted on today. Included among those passed amendments are:

  • Amendment by Goodlatte (R-VA) – gives states the authority to allow school districts to design and administer local assessment systems in lieu of the state system.
  • Amendment by Quigley (D-IL) – restores the qualifications required to be hired as a paraprofessional that are in place under current law.
  • Amendment by Delaney (D-MD) – makes pay for success initiatives an allowable use of funds for states and school districts under certain parameters.
  • Amendment by Polis (D-CO) – expresses the sense of Congress that charter schools are critical and must be supported by Congress.
  • Amendment by Bonamici (D-OR) – allows states to use certain grant funds to audit and streamline assessment systems in order to eliminate unnecessary assessments and improve the use of assessments.

As mentioned above, some amendments were added to today’s debate, partly in order to gather support for the bill from strongly conservative Republicans. The new amendments included:

  • Amendment by Walker (R-NC) – makes ESEA funding a block grant, allowing states to spend money how they see fit. (States currently receive funding through various formulas that direct money to states for specific purposes.) This is the “A-PLUS” amendment added in order to attract the conservative vote. However, the amendment failed 195-235.
  • Amendment by Salmon (R-AZ) – allows parents to opt their children out of testing requirements under the law. The amendment passed 251-178.
  • Amendment by Rokita (R-IN) – authorizes the law from fiscal year 2016 through fiscal year 2019, which means ESEA would again face reauthorization in 2019. The amendment passed on a voice vote.
  • Amendment by Polis (D-CO) – adds certain accountability measures back into law. Democrats have strongly opposed H.R. 5 because it removes much of the accountability measures in current law and they fear it will result in diminished education for children in subgroups, such as English language learners (ELL), minority, low income, and disabled students. This amendment was withdrawn.

Additionally, Democrats offered an amendment to strike the entire bill and replace it with a Democratic authored version of ESEA reauthorization, but that amendment was unsurprisingly rejected by the Republican controlled house. President Obama stands with Democrats in strong opposition to the Republican authored bill and intends to veto the Student Success Act if a similar version makes it to his desk.

The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where the body is expected to begin work this week on its own version of a bill to reauthorize ESEA. The Senate bill is currently a bipartisan bill that contrasts the strictly partisan House bill. It is yet to be seen how bipartisan the Senate bill will remain once it hits the floor this week.

To catch up on the House and Senate ESEA reauthorization bills, read our previous posts on the House bill here and the Senate bill here and here. Stay tuned to TeachtheVote.org for ESEA news as it unfolds.

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.

U.S. House delays vote on ESEA reauthorization bill

A final vote in the US House of Representatives on a bill to rewrite the federal education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind (NCLB), has been postponed.

The House began debate Wednesday on H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, and a final vote on the bill was originally expected today. But this afternoon, the consideration of H.R. 5 was delayed, allowing the House to focus its attention on a debate over funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS funding is currently set to expire at midnight tonight, and Congress is scrambling to avoid a shutdown of the department.

Check back to Teach the Vote for a recap on the H.R. 5 debate and final House vote. We will continue to post updates as they develop here and via Twitter.

U.S. House to debate ESEA reauthorization starting today, White House threatens veto

The US House of Representatives is scheduled to begin debate of H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, this afternoon. The Student Success Act, a Republican-backed bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), has moved quickly through the House process; the bill was introduced the first week in February and marked up in committee shortly thereafter. H.R. 5 is scheduled for debate today, tomorrow, and Friday by the full House of Representatives, with a final vote on the bill expected Friday.

House Democrats have expressed opposition to H.R. 5 and the expedited, partisan process through which they feel the bill has been ushered. Today, the White House threatened to veto the bill in its current form, calling the bill “a significant step backwards.”

More than 125 amendments were filed ahead of the three-day floor debate (although the House will likely debate far fewer amendments than were filed). Most of the amendments were filed by Democrats who were unable to get any amendments passed during the committee mark up, but several Republican and bipartisan amendments were filed as well. The filed amendments cover a variety of topics, including altering the current testing schedule, further expanding Title I portability, and defining requirements for state accountability plans.

The House is scheduled to begin debate this afternoon at 2 pm CST. Visit the House website to watch the debate live or view an archived video of the debate. 

U.S. House education committee passes ESEA reauthorization bill

As we reported last week, Congressman John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, filed his version of legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly referred to as no Child Left Behind (NCLB). The bill, H.R. 5–The Student Success Act, is similar to a bill he filed last Congress, which passed the House education committee and House floor but stalled in the Senate.

Chairman Kline’s education committee met to mark up his recently filed piece of legislation on Wednesday. The bill passed the committee on a partisan vote, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats opposing the measure. Several amendments were adopted during the markup and many more were defeated. One failed amendment came from Democrats who offered their own version of a reauthorization bill; the amendment was voted down on another party-line vote, this time with all Republicans opposing. Below is a look at The Student Success Act by issue following revisions made during this week’s committee markup.

Accountability

Similar to Senator Alexander’s draft legislation, Kline’s bill would scrap adequate yearly progress (AYP) and allow states to develop their own systems of accountability based on parameters outlined in the bill. Approval of states’ plans would be subject to those parameters as well as to a peer review process developed by the secretary of education. Under Kline’s bill, the peer review teams would be appointed by the secretary and would be made up of at least 65 percent practitioners and 10 percent representatives of private sector employers. In addition, states’ plans would have to support effective parental involvement practices at the local level.

Kline’s legislation also requires that states and school districts continue to prepare and disseminate annual report cards. The report cards would be required to include certain information, like graduation rates and disaggregated data of student performance on state assessments. An amendment adopted during the committee markup added data on military dependent students to the list of disaggregated data that states and districts are required to collect.

Another accountability system amendment passed during the markup allows states to delay the inclusion of English language learners’ assessment scores during students’ first few years in US schools.

Testing

Kline’s bill would keep the current NCLB-designed testing schedule, which requires that students be tested in reading and math every year in grades 3-8 and once in high school and that they be tested in science once in grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12. States would still be required to disaggregate data based on certain student populations.

One amendment offered during the committee markup would have supported the study of states’ assessments through a grant program aimed at eliminating redundant or unnecessary tests. The amendment was ultimately withdrawn. Republicans expressed opposition throughout the hearing to measures that would grow government or cost money. This also meant the defeat of amendments dealing with early childhood education, dropout prevention, STEM programs, and technology, among other issues.

Curriculum Standards

Under the House committee’s proposal, states would be required to adopt their own curriculum standards in math, reading/language arts, and science, as well as any additional subjects a state may choose. Each state would also be required to adopt English language proficiency standards and have the option to develop alternate academic achievement standards for students with severe cognitive disabilities.

As we predicted in a previous Teach the Vote blog post, Common Core is specifically addressed in Kline’s legislation; the bill would prohibit the secretary of education from requiring that states adopt any particular set of standards, including Common Core.

School Choice and Privatization

As is also the case in Senator Alexander’s draft bill, the primary provision in Kline’s bill aimed at school choice is the portability of Title I funding for low-income students. The bill would allow Title I funding to follow eligible students from one public school to another public school. Kline’s bill does not include provisions related to voucher programs, but an amendment was offered during markup that would have expanded the Title I portability provision to include students attending private schools. The amendment was ultimately withdrawn during committee due to lack of support, but we can expect to see similar amendments offered when the bill is debated by the full House.

One additional amendment offered during the committee markup would have increased accountability and transparency for charter schools, but the amendment was defeated.

Educator Evaluations

The bill would allow states to develop their own educator evaluation systems, if they chose, and would not require that student outcomes be included in an educator’s evaluation. While Kline has been a proponent of tying teacher evaluations to students’ performance on state tests (such language was included in Kline’s bill last Congress), he ditched the provision in the current bill in order to seek broader support from those who oppose the evaluation mandate.

A few amendments aimed at teacher quality were proposed during the markup but were defeated. The Kline bill gets rid of the “highly qualified teacher” requirements in current law and consolidates several teacher quality programs that exist in current law.

Other Issues

Kline’s legislation would consolidate several major programs aimed at educating certain populations of students, such as English language learners and migrant students, into the larger Title I program for low-income students, and states would receive block grant funding with far fewer strings attached to how the money is spent.

Ultimately, only four amendments were added to the bill during committee markup. All were authored by Republicans. In addition to the two adopted amendments mentioned above (pertaining to the disaggregated data of military dependent students and accountability requirements for English language learners), the committee passed an amendment to address student and teacher privacy and an amendment to require an annual report on the reduced federal role in education and cost savings resulting from H.R. 5.

The House has scheduled the bill for debate and a floor vote on February 24th. We will provide an update on Teach the Vote following any floor action, and you can follow the debate live here.

Getting up to speed on Student Success Act, federal education reform bill

The latest effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) took a big step forward last week when the U.S. House of Representatives approved the latest iteration of the bill, the Student Success Act.

Dubbed “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) when it was last reauthorized in 2001 under President George W. Bush, the ESEA, which contains the bulk of federal education programs, expired in 2007. Several efforts to reauthorize the bill have been initiated since then without success. Several states are now operating under waivers from NCLB’s requirements granted by the Obama administration.

According to the bill’s supporters, The Student Success Act, or House Resolution (HR) 5, seeks to remove the federal government’s “footprint” on education and return local control to states and local communities. Under HR 5, Schools would no longer be required to meet federal performance goals, one of the biggest criticisms of NCLB, and dozens of federal programs would be consolidated under one title in order to aid poor and disadvantaged students. However, critics say the bill falls short of addressing the shortcomings of NCLB and has no real support in the education community.

Partisan disagreements led to the demise of previous efforts to reauthorize ESEA and early indications suggest The Student Success Act may suffer the same fate. The vote to approve HR 5 was split almost entirely along party lines.

You can find more information on HR 5, the Student Success Act, here.

Teach the Vote will continue to follow this story as if unfolds.

Stay tuned for updates.