The House Education Committee passed two bills last evening that would make significant changes to the accountability system required by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The vote was on a straight party-line vote of 23–16. The bills now head to the House floor for consideration sometime in the near future.
The two bills, HR 3989 (PDF), the Student Success Act, and HR 3990 (PDF), the Encouraging Innovation and Teacher Effectiveness Act, are the House’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization package. We’re encouraged that the bills
- Eliminate the impractical components of NCLB’s adequate yearly progress system.
- Strengthen teacher and school leader effectiveness.
- Continue to require schools and districts to track disaggregated data on student subgroups.
- Include student growth as a factor in state-developed accountability systems.
Overall, the committee’s approval of the bill—even on a strictly partisan basis—is a necessary step in the ESEA reauthorization process. Of course, continued refinements to the bills are necessary. In particular, ASCD recommends
- Keeping gap-closing in focus by ensuring that the flexibility for local-level decision making in Student Success is tempered by appropriate accountability and oversight.
- Allowing opportunities in Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers for teachers in all subjects, not just the core subjects, to use federal funds for evidence-based, job-embedded, and ongoing professional development.
- As part of the multiple measures used for teacher evaluations, requiring student assessment results be for the subject in which the educator teaches.
- Supporting a well-rounded education by maintaining competitive grant programs in subjects like art, civics and government, history, foreign languages, health education, and physical education.
- Requiring states and districts to publicly report student achievement data currently compiled for these subjects as a way to highlight their importance and promote accountability.
We remain hopeful that lawmakers will work together toward these ends, and that the final product garners the bipartisan support necessary for enacting ESEA reauthorization in 2012.
Stay abreast of these and other legislative developments by subscribing to ASCD’s Capitol Connection.