Senate HELP Leaders Draft Bipartisan ESEA Reauthorization

After weeks of rumors Senator Patty Murrary (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate HELP committee, and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), HELP committee chair, have announced a bipartisan bill for ESEA reauthorization. Titled the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, the bill addresses key issues like state control over educational standards; state-designed accountability measurements; and federal grants for low-performing schools, as identified by the state, without prescribing the intervention steps. Overall, the main theme is lessening the federal role in education.

Key Provisions

  • Title I: supports state-developed accountability systems while requiring two tests in reading and math per child per year in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school; provides grants for low-performing schools with interventions determined by states and districts; prohibits the federal government from mandating or incentivizing states to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards
     
  • Title II: provides federal funds for supporting teachers, but an end to mandates on evaluations, including the definition of highly qualified teachers.
     
  • Title III: requires states to measure the progress of English language learners (ELL) and provides resources to help states and districts meet the needs of the ELL population
     
  • Title IX: improves maintenance of effort requirements while prohibiting the Secretary from mandating additional requirements for states or school districts seeking waivers from federal law
     
  • Early childhood education: clarifies that states, school districts, and schools can spend ESEA dollars to improve early childhood education programs. These provisions apply to various titles including Title I, Title II (supports for teachers and school leaders) and Title III (programs serving English learners).

The committee meeting to discuss the bill and any amendments is scheduled for 10 am, Tuesday, April 14. Read the press release from Murray and Alexander, the bill summary, or the bill text.

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Education Policy