The House is set today to vote on a rewrite of the controversial No Child Left Behind education bill that has, for nearly a generation, increased the federal government’s role in elementary and secondary education in America.
The update to NCLB, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” (ESSA) will loosen some of the restrictions the NCLB placed on schools and transfer much of the job of measuring school progress to the states.
Here’s what NCLB is, what it requires and how it will change under ESSA
What is NCLB?
The No Child Left Behind Act increased the role of the federal government in elementary and secondary education holding schools responsible for the academic progress of all its students – particularly focusing on poor, minority and special education students and students for whom English is a second language.
It was not without many critics who railed against its heavy federal involvement in local school districts, the goals which many came to believe were unrealistic and the penalties that were deemed harsh for “underperforming” schools.
How will it change under “Every Student Succeeds” Act, or ESSA?
States set their own goals for educating students and the rate at which the goals should be met. Under NCLB, the government set the goal of every child in American public schools being proficient in math and reading by the end of the school year in 2014. No state made that goal.
States still have to test students in math and reading in Grades 3 through 8 and then one year in high school. The results must be publicly reported.
Each state must come up with a way to judge a school’s performance. What would now be considered an “underperforming” school would be one which sits in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state.
Goals in judging how a school performs would have to include test scores, graduation rates and English proficiency rates. States, however, can include other factors they consider important to a school’s performance.
Instead of the sometimes severe actions underperforming schools could face under NCLB, each state will decided what action will be taken and how long the school could be considered “underperforming” before the action is taken.
The federal government can no longer threaten to withhold funding as a means to force states to use test scores to evaluate the performance of teachers.
States would be able to use different (approved) tests in different parts of the state, instead of having to use one test to measure for the entire state.
The Education Department may not give states incentives to use any particular set of teaching standards such as the curriculum guidelines found in Common Core.
Title 1 money would not follow a low-income student to another school of their parent’s choice. It would stay at the school to which it was first issued.
The new law would encourage caps on the time students spend taking standardized tests.
The language released Monday is based on a framework agreed to this month by a conference committee composed of lawmakers from both parties and both chambers of Congress.