By Jason KUROSU
The House of Representatives voted in support of a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, a move made to reduce federal control on schools’ accountability and performance standards.
The bill, authored by Rep. John Kline (R-MN) passed by a narrow 218-213 count.
Known as the Student Success Act, the bill supports increased control for states on accountability measures, allowing states to develop their own academic standards without federal intervention.
The bill maintains some federally required standardized tests, including two tests in reading and math per year in grades three through eight and once per year during high school.
These test scores will be a part of the states’ accountability standards, in conjunction with their own assessments, though the states would be allowed to use test results as they wish to evaluate student performance. Decisions such as whether to implement Common Core would be made by the individual states.
The bill would eliminate a number of federal programs considered irrelevant, as well as the use of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) to determine a school’s performance.
A “Portability” component of the bill would have federal funds for disadvantaged students follow the student even if they leave a high-poverty school for a wealthier one.
Congress began weighing in last week on Kline’s bill and a Senate bill geared towards the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act, last reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.
The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 was authored by Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). It shares many of the same states’ control aspects that are present in the Student Success Act, including states’ development of their own accountability systems and the prohibition of the federal government from altering state standards.
Federal grants would be provided to states and school districts designated as “low performing” by the states’ accountability systems. Intervention strategies developed by school districts would also be used to aid struggling schools.
A few amendments to the bill were also reviewed. Among these were a failed amendment that would have allowed states to opt out of federally mandated education programs, while still receiving federal funds. However, an amendment that would allow parents to opt their children out of standardized testing was adopted.
The talks mark the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the first serious discussion of reauthorization since 2007, when talks stalled regarding the No Child Left Behind Act, which was up for reauthorization at the time.