|The Bill Formerly Known as No Child Left Behind: Where Are We Now?|
|posted by: Alana | April 22, 2015, 10:46 PM|
The reauthorization of No Child Left Behind is making big waves among policymakers, journalists, and educators who are eager to see improvements to a policy that for years has left many educators in a teaching gridlock.
To help navigate the torrential downpour of articles coming at teachers at every turn, we’ve done the hard work for you by summarizing the key takeaway points:
Who is behind the bill?
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) – a bipartisan group of lawmakers – drafted the bill after finding a remarkable consensus among both parties in regards to the urgent need of – and solutions to – a fix of it’s outdated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) counterpart.
What’s it called?
Along with the new and improved focus of the bill comes new and improved branding. In an effort to distance this bill from its less than popular NCLB predecessor, the HELP committee has deemed the title of the new bill to be the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECA).
What policies will be effected in ECA bill?
As it is currently written, the ECA Act of 2015 makes changes to funding, annual testing, Title I, student and teacher accountability and evaluation systems, and the role of federal government in education. Click here to view a detailed summary.
What’s different from NCLB?
A contentious component of the NCLB bill was its emphasis on a flawed federal evaluation system in which every state was measured with the same measuring stick through an over-reliance on standardized test scores. In the old model, states with higher risk student populations were held to the same testing standards regardless of their improvement progress or funding challenges. The new bill gives control back to state and local governments by allowing them to create their own school accountability and teacher evaluation systems so as to provide greater flexibility in deciding how much weight test scores hold as a means of performance measures and teacher qualification. Furthermore, In the beta phase of implementation, states will even be empowered to experiment with “innovative assessment systems”.
What’s the same as NCLB?
While the new bill reduces the number of federally mandated tests required of students, it’s important to note that the practice of mandated testing is here to stay. Teachers can expect to give their students four standardized tests per year (two in math and two in reading) from 3rd to 8th grade and three times in science before they complete grade 12 of highschool. The goal of these tests is to provide an opportunity for parents, teachers, and even states determine how well their students are performing compared to their peers so as to focus their attention on struggling students.
What has improved?
Gone are the days of the carrot on a stick approach to school funding – a system which once made a habit of choosing favorites by rewarding states for adopting and maintaining particular sets of standards – such as Common Core. States are now given the complete and total freedom to design and control the systems that ensure students are making progress in their schools and are prepared to a pursue college education and today's modern workforce without federal interference. This allows states to innovate without fear of losing funding and to create their own definition of a highly qualified teacher.
Where are we now?
After releasing their first draft in January, the committee went back to the drawing board to revise the bill. The second draft has been passed by the committee on a unanimous vote and is awaiting a full vote on the floor. If passed by the Senate, the bill will then move on to the House of Representatives.
Do you like the changes you see in this bill?