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Goodbye NCLB, Hello ESSA!

posted Dec 9, 2015, 9:04 AM by Valerie Newton   [ updated Dec 9, 2015, 9:05 AM ]
December 9, 2015 - Just minutes ago, the Senate approved the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by a vote of 85-12. With the House having passed the same bill by a vote of 359-64 last week, the legislation that will replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) will now be sent to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it into law within the week!

Educators have waited nearly 10 years for Congress to update NCLB. In a statement applauding the bill’s passage, ASCD Executive Director and CEO Deb S. Delisle said, “We appreciate the leadership of Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray and Representatives John Kline and Bobby Scott in crafting a compromise that achieves an appropriate balance between federal and state authority for education.” Read ASCD’s full statement here.

Additionally, ASCD would like to thank the many educators who contacted their lawmakers through e-mail or social media, urging them to craft a true bipartisan compromise. Your advocacy efforts were crucial in the shaping and success of ESSA, which is a significant improvement over the long-expired NCLB and fragmented system of waivers.

Key highlights of ESSA include:

  • Shifting key decisions about accountability, educator evaluations, and school improvement to state and district authorities.
  • Updating the definition and delivery of educator supports to ensure personalized, ongoing, job-embedded activities are available to all school staff.
  • Allowing states to limit the amount of time spent testing and decide how much weight to give tests in their accountability systems.
  • Requiring state accountability systems to include both academic and other indicators of school quality, such as student or educator engagement or school climate and safety.
  • Requiring state plans to show how they are improving conditions for learning, including reducing bullying and harassment and addressing behavioral interventions that compromise student health and safety.
Moving forward, successful implementation of this new bill at the state and local levels will be key. Educator input on state and district policies covering testing, accountability systems, and how ESSA can best support the whole child will be crucial to ensuring that the bill truly works for students and schools. Stay tuned as Capitol Connection continues to dig through the details of ESSA and provide you with opportunities (such as contacting your state lawmakers) to take action on issues that matter most to you.