In early December, the US Senate voted on an overhaul of the controversial federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, which officially expired in 2007. The “Every Student Succeeds Act”, its replacement, passed the House and was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015. The President called it, in reference to the bipartisan support, a “Christmas miracle.”This new law scales back federal oversight of schools and makes dramatic changes in that regard.
No Child Left Behind established high goals that all students achieve proficiency on state tests by 2014. Schools faced stiff sanctions if they failed to make “adequate yearly progress” toward that goal. The “Every Student Succeeds Act”, gives states the right to decide what constitutes adequate performance and how to intervene with schools that don’t measure up.
Schools would still be required to test students in English and Math every year from third to eighth grade and once in high school. States would still be required to intervene in the lowest-performing schools. However, in addition to test scores, schools will be judged on measures like graduation rates, student and teacher engagement and student participation in advanced coursework. It will leave it up to state and local officials to see their own performance goals, rate schools and determine what to do when they fail to meet their objectives.
Hopefully, this new approach will shift accountability away from naming and blaming schools to providing schools information they need to improve.