The end of “test and blame”

The Ohio Education Association has heralded the end of the “test, blame and punish” era of the No Child Left Behind Act with the new ESEA, just signed by President Obama, dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). OEA believes the new law puts educational decision-making back where it belongs – in the hands of local educators, parents and communities – while keeping the focus on students most in need. ESSA recognizes that student success is more than a test score by allowing states to gauge student achievement through multiple measures.

“ESSA recognizes that the one-size-fits-all approach to student achievement does not work,” said Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Becky Higgins. “ESSA will allow Ohio to reduce the amount of standardized testing. In doing so, students will have more time to learn and develop critical thinking, and teachers will have more time to teach and inspire the joy of learning. The measure also provides an opportunity for educators to have a greater voice in shaping education policy.”

ESSA: The ink is now drying

President Obama has signed the Every Student Succeeds Act. On Wednesday, in an 85-12 vote, the U.S. Senate approved the bill, which replaces No Child Left Behind as the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Most media reports focus on how unpopular NCLB has become, on how the new law devolves much education policy authority to states, and on the strong bipartisan nature of the vote. Here are just a few of the main aspects of this new set of federal regulations:

  • Replaces adequate yearly progress with a statewide accountability system
  • Maintains reporting about student performance in grades 3-8 and high school
  • Affirms states can control their own academic standards, and that they can identify and prescribe remedies for low-performing schools
  • Maintains reporting of disaggregated data and preserves alternate assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities
  • Provides resources to improve teacher quality
  • Provides for expansion of charter schools

ESEA headed for the Senate

In a 359 to 64 vote on Wednesday, the U.S. House passed “a bipartisan K-12 education bill” that would replace No Child Left Behind and “significantly shift authority over the nation’s 100,000 public schools from the federal government to states and local school districts.” The Washington Post wrote that while the Senate still needs to approve the measure, “the House vote was seen as the higher hurdle because of resistance from some conservative Republicans, who said the bill did not reduce the federal role enough.” All of the “no” votes came from GOP lawmakers. The Post quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying, “We are encouraged that the bill passed by the House today would codify the vision that we have long advocated for giving a fair shot at a great education to every child in America – regardless of zip code. The bill that the House passed today reflects more of that vision than nearly any observer expected.”