WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 19, 2013
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is marking up the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), legislation to rewrite the nation’s K-12 education law. Despite critics’ best attempts to dismiss this responsible proposal, committee Republicans know H.R. 5 is an important step forward for students, families, and schools. It’s time to separate the myths from the facts in the K-12 reform debate.
MYTH: When it comes to students’ needs, Washington knows best.
FACT: Lawmakers in the nation’s capital will never have the same integral understanding of the diverse needs of students in cities like New Orleans, Indianapolis, or Tampa Bay as the teachers, administrators, and parents who spend time with them every day.
FACT: State and local education officials are already successfully implementing their own reforms, including groundbreaking accountability and teacher evaluation systems that are leading to higher student achievement levels and improved school quality.
FACT: Rather than continuing to force states to adopt policies that reflect the priorities of Washington bureaucrats, the Student Success Act will give control back to the state and local education officials who best understand the unique needs of their students.
MYTH: Providing states and school districts increased flexibility in the use of funds will widen achievement gaps between groups of students.
FACT: Every federal K-12 education program is bundled with a separate set of eligibility requirements, reporting regulations, and strict rules dictating exactly how program funds may be spent. These overwhelming regulations can severely limit the ability of states and school districts to apply federal dollars to initiatives that best serve students’ needs.
FACT: To ensure all students have access to a quality education while also allowing states and districts to tailor initiatives and meet local needs, the Student Success Act will retain separate funding for four student assistance programs (Migrant Education, Neglected and Delinquent, English Language Acquisition, and Indian Education programs), but grant flexibility to states and districts to use program funds for activities authorized in any of those programs.
FACT: While maintaining current K-12 funding levels, the Student Success Act prioritizes spending on Title I programs. The legislation actually increases Title I spending above the level proposed in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
FACT: The bill also maintains requirements that states assess student performance in reading and math, and that these assessment results be disaggregated by subgroup for these student populations, thereby ensuring state and districts continue to focus on closing achievement gaps.
MYTH: The Student Success Act unfairly targets certain students and subgroups, denying access to a quality education.
FACT: The Student Success Act requires states to set their own academic standards and annual assessments for students. States must create their own accountability system to measure school and student achievement, ensuring students do not fall through the cracks.
FACT: States are still required to disaggregate subgroup data, assess the English proficiency of English learners, and demonstrate student progress on state assessments. The legislation also requires a 95 percent participation rate for all students and in each subgroup on state assessments. The resultant data will help states track student achievement and progress across all subgroups to better gauge areas for improvement.
FACT: The federal government’s current education funding scheme ties the hands of education leaders and hampers their efforts to educate students with special needs. The Student Success Act appropriately balances federal accountability to the taxpayer, while providing state and local leaders the flexibility to target federal funds where student needs are greatest.
MYTH: Repealing Maintenance of Effort requirements will allow states to shortchange students by decreasing funding levels for K-12 education.
FACT: The Maintenance of Effort requirements allow Washington bureaucrats to dictate state and local spending decisions as a condition of receiving federal education dollars.
FACT: The Student Success Act will remove these antiquated requirements, and leave spending and budgeting decisions to the state and local representatives who better understand their communities’ needs.
FACT: The Student Success Act will allow states and districts to set their own funding levels and make fiscally responsible decisions based on local budgets.
FACT: The Student Success Act also includes transparency measures to verify federal dollars are used on top of – not instead of – state and local resources. This will ensure states and districts cannot dramatically cut education spending and fill in the gaps with federal dollars.
To watch a live webcast of today's markup, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/webcast.
To learn more about the Student Success Act, click here.
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