The Senate education committee unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to fix No Child Left Behind on April 16. Three of the key things the bill does for Tennessee are:
- On Common Core: Affirms that states decide what academic standards they will adopt, without interference from Washington. The federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards, including Common Core.
- On Federal Tests: Ends the federal test-based accountabilitysystem of No Child Left Behind, restoring to states the responsibility for determining how to use federally required tests for accountability purposes.
- On School Choice: Updates and strengthens charter school programs by combining two existing programs into one Charter Schools Program.
Senate education committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) praised the work of the committee in acting on the bipartisan agreement to fix No Child Left Behind.
After three days of amendment and debate, the committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full Senate.
Alexander said, “If senators were students in a classroom, none of us would expect to receive a passing grade for unfinished work. Seven years is long enough to consider how to fix No Child Left Behind. The committee considered 57 amendments, approved 29 and improved the bipartisan agreement Ranking Member [Patty] Murray and I reached — but the consensus that the committee found is the same that Senator Murray and I found. That consensus 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.”
Alexander continued, “I thank Ranking Member Murray for her hard work and her commitment to getting a result, and I look forward to working with her as this moves to the Senate floor. Now the bill is ready to be taken up by the full Senate with the same opportunity for amendment, discussion, and debate.”
Last week, Alexander and Murray (D-Wash.) announced a bipartisan agreement on fixing No Child Left Behind. The agreement, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the chief law governing the federal role in K-12 education.
The most recent reauthorization of ESEA was the “No Child Left Behind Act,” which was enacted in 2001 and expired in 2007.