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House, Senate Advance Education Reauthorization Measures

This week, the House and Senate considered separate measures to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (P.L. 107-110), commonly known as No Child Left Behind: H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, and S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act.

Student Success Act

On July 8, the House approved, 218-213, H.R. 5. The Education and the Workforce Committee approved the legislation on February 20.

Sponsored by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the legislation would increase state and local control over school districts. According to the committee summary and report, states and school districts would be responsible for measuring student performance and improving low-performing schools. States would be required to establish academic standards for all students, implement student assessments, and develop their own accountability systems that comply with broad federal guidelines.

Among other provisions, the bill would provide a reserve fund to continue programs to improve educational services for neglected, delinquent, or at-risk children. The legislation would improve the existing Parental Information Resource Centers program, which helps implement family engagement polices, programs, and activities that help improve student achievement. The bill also seeks to strengthen partnerships among parents, teachers, school leaders, administrators, and others to meet children’s educational needs.

The measure would require states and school districts to conduct background checks on employees and prospective employees who have, or will have, direct unsupervised access to children.

Several provisions to strengthen Impact Aid  for local education agencies (LEAs) were included in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-239); H.R. 5 would make permanent those provisions, which reimburse LEAs impacted by the presence of the federal government. Impact Aid reimburses LEAs near, or serving students from, military bases, federal lands, and Indian reservations.

Every Child Achieves Act

This week, the Senate began consideration of S. 1177. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed the measure on April 16 (see The Source, 4/17/15).

Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the legislation would increase state and local control over school districts and education standards. Among other provisions, states, school districts, teachers, and others would be responsible for creating systems that ensure all students are learning. Such systems would be designed by the states, but would be required to meet federal guidelines. The bill would authorize funding to improve low-performing schools.

The measure would clarify that states, school districts, and schools could use federal funds to improve early childhood education programs. In addition, the legislation would require school districts to consult with parents, teachers, school leaders, and other community and local stakeholders to plan and implement comprehensive programs to improve students’ safety, health, well-being, and academic achievement.

The formula for calculating Impact Aid would be changed to a “simple, objective calculation for program eligibility.”

During consideration of the bill, the Senate adopted, 98-0, an amendment by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to ensure that states have policies or procedures to prevent aiding or abetting of sexual abuse.

 

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