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Education & Labor Committee Republicans

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New Education Proposals Support Unique School Districts, Help Close Student Achievement Gaps

House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans recently released two pieces of draft legislation designed to reform K-12 education law, currently known as No Child Left Behind. The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will support rural schools, strengthen Impact Aid, and improve data reporting and transparency to help close student achievement gaps. The facts below explain how these proposals make important changes to current law:

FACT: The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act help rural school districts improve student achievement.  

As Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) recently explained, rural schools face different challenges than their urban counterparts. It can be harder for these schools to comply with federal mandates, access federal funds, improve struggling schools, and recruit good teachers. The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act take several steps to help rural schools overcome these problems.

First, the proposals eliminate current law’s onerous “highly qualified teacher” requirements and overhaul No Child Left Behind’s overly-prescriptive federal accountability system (Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP), allowing states to develop individual accountability systems that take into account the challenges facing local schools. The proposals also eliminate federally mandated interventions for under-performing schools, including the current administration’s four turnaround models that force rural schools to fire local principals in exchange for federal funds, and permit states to determine the best way to improve student learning.

The draft proposals also provide continued support for the Rural Education Achievement Program and reject the creation of national competitive grant programs such as Race to the Top that often overlook rural school districts. Finally, the proposals grant states and school districts enhanced flexibility in the use of federal funds, helping rural schools apply resources to the programs and initiatives that best meet the needs of their students.

FACT: The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act strengthens existing provisions in the federal Impact Aid program.

The Impact Aid program provides financial assistance to school districts that collect reduced local revenue due to the presence of federal lands, such as military bases and Indian reservations. This additional federal assistance helps supplement local education funds; however, it can be difficult for eligible school districts to navigate the bureaucratic process of obtaining the appropriate federal compensation.

The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act simplifies the process for determining districts’ federal allotments by enabling alternative verification of tax records and eliminating subjectivity in determining land values to ensure the efficient and equitable allocation of education dollars. Additionally, the proposal standardizes eligibility for Heavily Impacted school districts, which are districts with high percentages of children from military bases or Indian reservations, basing per student spending on average state expenditures instead of the national average. The legislation also helps ensure eligible school districts obtain Impact Aid funds from the Secretary of Education within a reasonable amount of time.

FACT: The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act improve data reporting and enhance transparency to protect unique student populations.

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 Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act support the continued use of disaggregated data, breaking down test scores for disadvantaged students, major ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and English learners, to identify and help close student achievement gaps. To ensure parents and communities are informed of the progress of area students and schools, states and districts will be required to publicly report 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.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans are moving forward with important reforms that will help school districts meet local needs, support unique student populations, and encourage enhanced transparency for parents and communities. To learn more about the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov.

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