Congress replaces No Child Left Behind with new education bill

By a 85-12 vote Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed legislation replacing the No Child Left Behind Act.  Considered a bipartisan compromise that had been eight years in the making, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 will give states more autonomy in evaluating school and teacher performance beyond using federally mandated standardized test results.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Thursday.

Other than eliminating the teacher performance requirement, which ultimately led to a ‘teaching the test’ environment, local school districts will again be responsible for curriculum changes and determining how to improve student performance and graduation rates.

Language in the bill also recommends states limit the amount of time spent on standardized student testing.

(This legislation) is the single biggest step toward local control of public schools in 25 years,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Despite the length of time Congress spent on a reform bill, it was clear that the standards set in 2001 under No Child Left Behind were antiquated or not working. The Obama Administration had granted waivers to 43 states which exempted them from the previous law’s requirements, if they adopted the White House’s preferred policies.

Also of note regarding Wednesday’s vote were the senators absent from voting on the bill: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders.

Sen. Cruz had commented earlier that Every Child doesn’t reform America’s education system enough, and wants to see less federal involvement than is prescribed in this particular legislation.

 

[AP] [Washington Post]