President Obama signed into law Thursday the newest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – the Every Student Succeeds Act – replacing the very controversial law known as No Child Left Behind.
The main difference between the updated law and its predecessor is it gives individual states more control over the creation of academic standards, assessments and how the state evaluates its teachers and schools. The updated law retains the current assessment schedule of testing students in grades 3-8 every year, and one year in high school.
As Alyson Klein of Education Week reports, this base requirement is the minimum of the federal government influence on education at the local level:
But beyond that, states get wide discretion in setting goals, figuring out just what to hold schools and districts accountable for, and deciding how to intervene in low-performing schools. And while tests still have to be a part of state accountability systems, states must incorporate other factors that get at students’ opportunity to learn, like school-climate and teacher engagement, or access to and success in advanced coursework.
States and districts will have to use locally-developed, evidence-based interventions, though, in the bottom 5 percent of schools and in schools where less than two-thirds of students graduate. States must also flag for districts schools where subgroup students are chronically struggling.
This also means waivers (which Indiana has earned) will go away, as many of the requirements in the waivers are enveloped into the new law.
NPR reports that before signing, Obama praised the bipartisan efforts of this law.
The new law, which passed the House and Senate with rare, resounding bipartisan support, would also expand access to high-quality preschool.
Before the signing, President Obama made clear that he believed the goals of NCLB — namely high standards, accountability and closing the achievement gap — were the right ones. But in practice, he said, the law fell short.
“It often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see,” Obama said.