Lawmakers from the Senate Education Committee recently announced plans to rewrite the education law No Child Left Behind, which has been outdated for quite some time.
The legislation, referred to as the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, would offer states the ability to create their own accountability systems, so long as they meet a certain set of federal standards, including counting all student subsets and enacting “challenging academic standards” that allow students to complete state vocational guidelines, or to be able to be admitted to a public university without the need to take remedial courses. The secretary of education would not hold the power necessary to approve the standards.
The new Elementary and Secondary Education Act would require states to use student test scores for teacher accountability, although each state will be able to decide how much weight should be given to those scores and exactly how to use them.
Despite all the controversy surrounding the role of standardized testing in schools, the new bill would keep the annual testing in place. Students will participate in English and math exams in the third through eighth grades and again in high school. In addition, science testing will take place three times between third and twelfth grades. In total, students will take 17 federally-mandated tests, writes Allie Bidwell for USNews.
“Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement,” Alexander said in a statement. “This should produce fewer and more appropriate tests. It is the most effective way to advance higher standards and better teaching in our 100,000 public schools. We have found remarkable consensus about the urgent need to fix this broken law, and also on how to fix it.”
The bill would also require that student test scores, broken down by race and income, be made public.
However, the bill would end the framework that found almost all public schools across the country to be failing. Also, an end could come to efforts by teachers to put a stop to their job performance being linked to student test scores.
In addition, the federal government would no longer be involved in how states handle schools that are repeatedly labeled as failing, reports Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
“This is a big deal,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “It goes back to the original intent of the law, to level the playing field for at-risk kids.” She added, “The decreased emphasis on testing and the stakes that go along with it will help create some oxygen, so the attention is on instruction and the joy of learning.”