The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, introduced earlier this month by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to fix “No Child Left Behind,” last week passed the committee unanimously and is receiving broad support from governors, chief state school officers, teachers, school board members, and school superintendents.
According to Sen. Alexander, “The consensus the committee reached is this: Continue the law’s important measurements of academic progress of students but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement.
This change should produce fewer tests and more appropriate ways to measure student achievement. It is the most effective path to advance higher state standards, better teaching, and real accountability.”
What others are saying about the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015:
National Governors Association: “The nation’s governors commend the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for working in a bipartisan way to restore balance to the state-federal relationship. Governors have long called for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Every Child Achieves Act reinforces the principle that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states. It also supports governors’ strategies to improve low-performing schools and includes flexibility for governors to empower teachers and school leaders to prepare all students for success. We look forward to working with the Senate to ensure gubernatorial leadership is reflected in the bill and reauthorization is completed this year.”
National School Boards Association: “Today marks a great victory for local and community leadership in public education. Though there is much more work to be done, today’s powerful vote demonstrates that we are one step closer to rewriting the broken No Child Left Behind Act and modernizing ESEA.”
National Conference of State Legislatures: “The National Conference of State Legislatures applauds your bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Every Child Achieves Act is a strong, state-centered bill and an important step forward in fixing the current law. We appreciate that the legislation includes many provisions recommended in the reauthorization plan that NCSL released in partnership with the National Governors Association. Under your legislation, states would receive greater flexibility in areas such as accountability systems and school improvement strategies. It also ensures that states will determine academic standards and can use innovative assessments to measure student achievement.”
National Association of State Boards of Education: “NASBE applauds Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray for putting forth a bipartisan bill that recognizes the essential role states play in setting education policy, while continuing the federal commitment to equity and accountability. The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 is an important step forward in providing states and districts with the authority and certainty they need to place the nation’s schools on a path to higher performance and continual improvement.”
Council of Chief State School Officers: “Chairman Alexander and Senator Murray have created an excellent bipartisan bill that gives the Senate a strong starting point for the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 is aligned with the key priorities that State Chiefs outlined in January, and will provide our states with the long-term stable federal policy they need to continue making progress for all students.”
School Superintendents Association: “This bill restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education. ECAA takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription rampant in current law and places it more squarely in the area of state and local expertise and autonomy. The bill recognizes the importance of empowering state and local leaders to use their professional knowledge and proximal location to make the decisions necessary to successfully adhere to their educational missions. It corrects flawed policy related to standards, accountability and assessments to ensure that all students are better positioned to learn and achieve.”
Teach For America: “Teach For America was glad to see a bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill released today that recognizes the urgency in updating and strengthening our education laws, from early learning through high school graduation. All students, regardless of race, national origin, or income, deserve the opportunity to succeed, and all teachers deserve the resources and the professional development to help them do so. This bill is a start in the right direction to move progress forward.”
American Federation of Teachers: “At the beginning of this reauthorization process, we called on policymakers to reclaim the original purpose of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — to help children, particularly those at risk — and to end the testing fixation. Today, in a bipartisan manner, Sens. Alexander and Murray took an important first step by showing that, even in this current climate, one can find common ground by listening to teachers, parents and other important voices in education.” – Randi Weingarten, president
Business Roundtable: “Business Roundtable CEOs are very supportive of your efforts to reauthorize ESEA. We have advocated for reauthorization for many years and remain committed to working with you and your colleagues in Congress to ensure this legislation becomes law as soon as possible. Clearly, ESEA must attract broad bipartisan support to be signed into law. This bill meets that test, and we are pleased to lend our support to your efforts to pass this important legislation.” – John Engler, CEO and former governor of Michigan
Partnership for 21st Century Learning: “Today P21, the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, the leading organization uniting business, education, and government leaders to advance meaningful teaching learning for all students, expressed support for the Every Child Achieves Act sponsored by Senators Alexander and Murray as a balanced, bipartisan approach to updating the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. P21 strongly supports the bill's commitment to equity, innovation, and emphasis on equipping students with the knowledge and skills required for postsecondary success.”
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools: “We are pleased that Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) have achieved a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act…We applaud the committee for strengthening this program that has been critical to the growth of charter schools nationwide.”
Third Way: “This thoughtful compromise represents a huge step forward in achieving meaningful reform of the parts of NCLB that weren’t working, while preserving those parts that were spurring growth in student achievement. If every Member of Congress approaches this upcoming debate with the same spirit that has generated this compromise, there’s no doubt we will see a new law passed this year — one that will continue to build on the progress we’ve made since No Child Left Behind and set our students up for success in an increasingly competitive global economy.”
National Education Association: “From the very beginning, the goal of educators has been to ensure that ESEA reauthorization truly promotes opportunity, equity, and excellence for all students. For more than a decade No Child Left Behind has perpetuated a system that delivers unequal opportunities and uneven quality to America’s children based on the zip code where they live. It’s time to get it right. We applaud Senators Alexander and Murray, along with all the members of the committee, for listening to educators and leading the improvements made to the bill in committee over the course of the past week.”
What the Every Child Achieves Act does:
Strengthens state and local control: The bill recognizes that states, working with school districts, teachers, and others, have the responsibility for creating accountability systems to ensure all students are learning and prepared for success. These accountability systems will be state-designed but must meet minimum federal parameters, including ensuring all students and subgroups of students are included in the accountability system, disaggregating student achievement data, and establishing challenging academic standards for all students. The federal government is prohibited from determining or approving state standards.
Maintains important information for parents, teachers, and communities: The bill maintains the federally required two tests in reading and math per child per year in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, as well as science tests given three times between grades 3 and 12. These important measures of student achievement ensure that parents know how their children are performing and help teachers support students who are struggling to meet state standards. A pilot program will allow states additional flexibility to experiment with innovative assessment systems within states. The bill also maintains annual reporting of disaggregated data of groups of children, which provides valuable information about whether all students are achieving, including low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English learners.
Ends federal test-based accountability: The bill ends the federal test-based accountability system of No Child Left Behind, restoring to states the responsibility for determining how to use federally required tests for accountability purposes. States must include these tests in their accountability systems, but will be able to determine the weight of those tests in their systems. States will also be required to include graduation rates, a measure of postsecondary and workforce readiness, English proficiency for English learners. States will also be permitted to include other measures of student and school performance in their accountability systems in order to provide teachers, parents, and other stakeholders with a more accurate determination of school performance.
Maintains important protections for federal taxpayer dollars: The bill maintains important fiscal protections of federal dollars, including maintenance of effort requirements, which help ensure that federal dollars supplement state and local education dollars, with additional flexibility for school districts in meeting those requirements.
Helps states fix the lowest-performing schools: The bill includes federal grants to states and school districts to help improve low performing schools that are identified by the state accountability systems. School districts will be responsible for designing evidence-based interventions for low performing schools, with technical assistance from the states, and the federal government is prohibited from mandating, prescribing, or defining the specific steps school districts and states must take to improve those schools.
Helps states support teachers: The bill provides resources to states and school districts to implement activities to support teachers, principals, and other educators, including allowable uses of funds for high quality induction programs for new teachers, ongoing rigorous professional development opportunities for teachers, and programs to recruit new educators to the profession. The bill allows, but does not require, states to develop and implement teacher evaluation systems.
Reaffirms the states’ role in determining education standards: The bill affirms that states decide what academic standards they will adopt, without interference from Washington, D.C. The federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards, including Common Core. States will be free to decide what academic standards they will maintain in their states.