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Legislative Update: ESEA

Congress is in recess and will return next week.

House Education Committee Introduces Two ESEA Bills

Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee had been working behind the scenes on a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill, but have failed to reach agreement on key issues. As a result, Chairman Kline (MN) announced two partisan bills on Friday focused on teachers and accountability. These two bills, along with three other bills introduced last year, will make up Republicans’ efforts to reauthorize ESEA this year. However, Ranking Member George Miller (CA) has said that if the Chairman proceeds with a partisan bill, he does not believe ESEA will be renewed in 2012.

Student Success Act

The goal of the Student Success Act is to replace the existing federal accountability system with state-developed and implemented accountability systems. More specifically, the bill would:

  • Do away with Adequate Yearly Progress, but still require districts to test students in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. It does not require districts to test students in science.
  • Disaggregate data by student subgroup (similar to current law).
  • Give states flexibility on how to turn around low performing schools. They would not have to use the federal interventions in NCLB.
  • Require states to develop college- and career-ready standards.

Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act

According to the committee, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will “ support additional flexibility in the use of federal education funds, help provide better information to parents on teacher effectiveness, and increase school choice.” Some of the key elements of this bill include:

  • Elimination of the Highly Qualified Teacher requirement.
  • States and districts would have to develop teacher evaluation systems that rely at least in part on student performance.
  • Greater funding flexibility, including the elimination of the Maintenance of Effort requirement in ESEA.

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

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