The Obama Administration today is praising action by the House of Representatives to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan bill to fix No Child Left Behind, and is calling on the Senate to take swift action on the legislation so that it can be signed into law before the end of the year.
The bill rejects the overuse of standardized tests and one-size-fits-all mandates on our schools, ensures that our education system will prepare every child to graduate from high school ready for college and careers, and provides more children access to high-quality state preschool programs.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement on the House passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The statement is below:
“It is good news for our nation’s schools that the House has passed a serious bipartisan plan to fix the No Child Left Behind law” Duncan said. “No Child Left Behind is the latest, now outmoded version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is, at its core, a civil rights law. Educators and leaders throughout this country have been clear in the need for an updated law, and we have joined them in that call for half a decade.
“We are encouraged that the bill passed by the House today would codify the vision that we have long advocated for giving a fair shot at a great education to every child in America – regardless of zip code. Nearly a year ago, I gave a speech setting the frame for what I believe is essential in the nation’s preeminent education law. The bill that the House passed today reflects more of that vision than nearly any observer expected. It requires – for the first time in law – that every student in America be taught to high learning standards that will prepare them for college and a career. And it requires that schools – on a statewide basis – annually assess students’ progress toward those standards, providing vital information to educators, families and communities.
In a crucial step to protect civil rights, it enshrines in law the expectation that where schools serve students poorly or have low graduation rates over extended periods of time, and where groups of students aren’t making progress, there will be accountability and action for change. It removes a harmful proposal from an earlier House bill that would have taken funds from the neediest students and schools.
It doubles down on our investments to expand quality preschool. That’s one of the most powerful steps we can take as a country to ensure opportunity for all students and a centerpiece of the Administration’s education agenda.
And it helps to support and grow local innovations, including for evidence-based and place-based innovations developed by local educators and leaders, consistent with our i3 and Promise Neighborhoods programs; and for the expansion of high-quality charter schools, serving high-need students.
“Our nation deserves a law that prioritizes both excellence and equity for our students and supports great educators. We are pleased the House has voted in strong bipartisan fashion in favor of a bill that does that, and we look forward to the Senate moving quickly to do the same.”
The bipartisan bill passed by the House includes many of the key reforms the Administration has called on Congress to enact and encouraged states and districts to adopt in exchange for waivers offering relief from the more onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
The White House shares that this bill helps ensure educational opportunity for all students by:
- Holding all students to high academic standards that prepare them for success in college and careers.
- Ensuring accountability by guaranteeing that when students fall behind, states redirect resources into what works to help them and their schools improve, with a particular focus on the very lowest-performing schools, high schools with high dropout rates, and schools with achievement gaps.
- Empowering state and local decision-makers to develop their own strong systems for school improvement based upon evidence, rather than imposing cookie-cutter federal solutions like the No Child Left Behind Act did.
- Reducing the often onerous burden of testing on students and teachers, making sure that tests don’t crowd out teaching and learning, without sacrificing clear, annual information parents and educators need to make sure our children are learning.
- Providing more children access to high-quality preschool.
- Establishing new resources for proven strategies that will spur reform and drive opportunity and better outcomes for America’s students.
In recognition of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)’s legacy as a civil rights law, the bipartisan bill upholds critical protections for America’s disadvantaged students. It ensures that states and school districts will hold schools to account for the progress of all students and prescribes meaningful reforms to remedy underperformance in those schools failing to serve all students.
It excludes harmful “portability” provisions that would siphon funds away from the students and schools most in need, and maintains dedicated resources and supports for America’s vulnerable children – including students with disabilities, English Learners, Native American students, homeless children, neglected and delinquent children, and migrant and seasonal farmworker children.
It also ensures that states and districts continue the work they’ve begun this year to ensure that all students – including students from low-income families and students of color – have equitable access to excellent educators.