WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 19, 2012 -
When No Child Left Behind was signed into law 10 years ago, it was heralded as a game changer for education policy. It was certainly a strong step forward, but it has become clear the law is in need of urgent reform.
Recognizing the shortfalls under current law, many states are taking matters into their own hands. At the behest of parents, teachers, and principals, reform-minded individuals are working to expand transparency, implement higher academic standards, and enhance accountability for student achievement at the local level. And the results have been nothing short of impressive: states have managed to shrink student achievement gaps, engage parents, and improve student learning without federal intervention – and they’re doing it on their own.
Unfortunately, some critics disregard these positive results, preferring to question the intent and downplay the capabilities of the state and local education experts who work with our children every day. These detractors blindly insist Washington bureaucrats know best when it comes to the nation’s classrooms, and continue to push outdated policies full of prescriptive mandates and heavy federal intrusion in K-12 education.
Effective education reform will never come from the top down – it must be encouraged from the bottom up. The bold steps taken by education reformers nationwide are working for children across the board, and they deserve the appreciation and support of lawmakers.
That’s why House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans recently released two pieces of draft legislation that build on this exceptional progress while also including responsible measures to ensure all students continue to have access to a quality education. The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will:
Uphold High Standards for Student Achievement
Schools must continue to make and meet high benchmarks for student learning. Instead of a one-size-fits-all federal accountability system, each state will be required to develop its own system that takes into account the unique needs of students and communities, with the flexibility to use multiple measures of student achievement. Each state will also implement their own metrics and improvement strategies for low-performing schools. Additionally, states will continue to measure and report annual performance in reading and math for all students in grades 3-8 and once again in high school. Finally, the Republican proposals maintain requirements for disaggregating subgroup data and assessing English proficiency, as well as 95 percent participation rates for all students and each subgroup.
Enhance Transparency and Data Reporting
The data collection requirements under No Child Left Behind shed new light on the progress of individual students, and continue to be applauded by Republicans and Democrats alike. The new Republican proposals will support the continued use of disaggregated data to identify and help close student achievement gaps. In return for additional flexibility in establishing achievement benchmarks, states and school districts will be required to publicly report evaluations and data on school performance and teacher effectiveness. Additionally, states and districts will continue to participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress as a method to compare student and school data across states.
Particularly in these difficult economic times, taxpayers deserve to know their hard-earned money is being spent wisely. While the Republican proposals do grant states increased flexibility in the use of federal education dollars, they will still hold states accountable by imposing responsible reporting requirements. Taxpayers will also see a renewed commitment to fiscal discipline with the elimination of dozens of overlapping or inefficient K-12 education programs.
Support Teacher Effectiveness
Every child deserves to be challenged and inspired by a great teacher. The Republican proposals will eliminate current law’s out-of-touch “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements and instead support state and school district-developed teacher evaluation systems that provide useful data to parents and local education officials. Additionally, school districts will have more flexibility to design successful programs and initiatives that aid in the recruitment of exceptional teachers, boost professional development, and share best practices on teacher effectiveness.
Last week, House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans released a series of documents that further explain how the new proposals benefit children and families, protect schools from overly prescriptive federal mandates, and encourage innovation in the classroom. To read the series, click here:
Part 1: New Republican Proposals Advance Education Reform
Part 2: Returning Responsibility for Student Achievement to State and Local Leaders
Part 3: Supporting Effective Teachers in Every Classroom
Part 4: Ending the Education Secretary's Overreach
Part 5: Reviewing the Facts
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