President Obama called it “a Christmas miracle. A bipartisan bill signing right here.”
The “right here” was the South Court Auditorium, part of the White House complex. More importantly, the bipartisan bill being signed was the Every Student Succeeds Act — a long-overdue replacement of the unpopular federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.
ESSA gives more power to states than its predecessor. NCLB emphasized standardized testing and a top-down approach to education. Under that law, the federal government designed an accountability system to evaluate states’ schools. While ESSA maintains the standardized testing schedule created by NCLB, it allows states to design their own accountability systems to measure a school’s success.
In lieu of a workable national education law, the Obama administration gave states waivers that allowed them to avoid NCLB’s strictest consequences in exchange for agreeing to implement policies favored by the White House. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does away with this system.
“My administration, when we came into office, we tried some different things, tried to lead a Race To The Top,” said Obama, referring to an Education Department competition that gave states grants if they implemented certain plans for reforms. “The truth is that could only do so much.”
The signing of the new law culminates a period when schools were graded and deemed to be successes or failures based on their students’ standardized test scores. It marks a recognition by many educators, states, researchers and districts that what happens in a school is much more complex than a single number could ever show.
No Child Left Behind was signed by President George W. Bush in 2002 to much pomp and promise. The law dramatically expanded the federal government’s footprint in America’s public schools by mandating annual standardized testing in math and reading from grades three to eight and once in high school. NCLB established a goal of 100% proficiency by 2014 and punished schools based on those test scores.
Manage all tutoring, afterschool, stem and test prep with Oases Online.
Testing, scheduling, invoicing and payment suite.