Late in the evening on Wednesday, November 2, the House of Representatives approved the Every Child Succeeds Act, a broadly sweeping bill to revise (or outright replace) the unpopular No Child Left Behind law. Key in the revisions is the end of aggressive federal oversight of school performance. ECSA will return control of schools to state and local governments, allowing them to determine out to rate schools and what to do with those that fail.
Under NCLB, low-performing schools were punished under a single rubric, regardless of their location, their demographic, or their funding. Originally meant to level out what GW Bush called the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations,’ it instead applied penalties without offering significant solutions or resources, sending many poor schools into dives of worsening performance, measured by standardized tests that could only measure a single facet of a school’s results.
Every Child Succeeds, after months of wrangling, passed in the House 359 to 64 with wide bipartisan support. It is expected to pass a vote in the Senate next week, and President Obama plans to sign it when it reaches his desk, according to a White House official.
The new bill retains the annual testing in math and reading, and schools must still report the results along with the demographic makeup of their schools to the federal government, but this will be used for tracking, not for enforcement.
Opponents to the bill express concerns that under the new law, schooling across the country will become uneven. But that could hardly be a worse result than No Child labeling virtually every school in the nation as failing.
Members of the Education Committee believe that being released from No Child’s oversight will lead to a period of much-needed experimentation in schools, and a leap forward in the effectiveness with which education uses new techniques and technologies.