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EDUCATION: Major NCLB Reform Bill Passes Senate Committee; Washington State Students and Schools Would Benefit From High Standards and Greater Flexibility

Oct 20 2011

Reauthorization bill would free most districts from the unsuccessful and often unfair burdens of meeting "adequate yearly progress"

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) voted for the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011 (ESEA) in an Executive Session of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The bill passed out of the committee on a vote of 15-7. This legislation is the result of more than a year of bipartisan work within the committee and would replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind law.

“This education bill we passed through committee today addresses the concerns that I have heard over and over from parents and schools across Washington state,” said Senator Patty Murray. “It builds on what is working in our schools, and it gives districts and schools across our state the tools and flexibility they need to offer every student the opportunity to get the education and skills they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century.”

“This bipartisan legislation is a strong step in the right direction for Washington state students. Although it’s not perfect, it is the result of true bipartisan compromise. I want to thank Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi, and all of my colleagues on the committee for their hard work on this legislation. And I am going to keep working to pass this bill into law and improve education for students and schools in Washington state and across the country.”

Murray worked closely with her colleagues on the HELP committee as this legislation was written, and a few key pieces are based on bills she has introduced, including a comprehensive literacy section based on her LEARN Act and a high school reform program that focuses on career pathways based on legislation she introduced earlier this year.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act will:

Fix the one-size-fits-all approach created by the No Child Left Behind Act. 

  • Eliminate policies like the “adequate yearly progress” requirements and mandated federal sanctions for all schools that create pressure to “teach to the test.”
  • Support state-designed accountability systems consistent with principles established by the national organization of State superintendents. 
  • Make schools accountable to the communities they serve by ensuring that all parents, families, and community members have access to disaggregated information about how effectively their schools are educating all students. 

Help ensure that every student graduates from high school ready for college and a career.

  • Support states as they develop and implement college and career ready academic standards with high-quality assessments that will help make our young people the most skilled citizens in the world.
  • Fix America’s dropout factories, the 12 percent of high schools that produce 50 percent of our dropouts.
  • Help more children access high quality preschool and foster collaboration between early childhood programs and school systems to ensure that children start school ready to succeed.

Support great teachers and principals, and ensure that all children receive the best instruction. 

  • Help ensure there are great teachers and principals in every school through improved support and evaluation systems.
  • Recruit and train teachers in high-need subjects like math and science.
  • Help more schools provide a well-rounded education with time for the arts and physical activity.
  • Support student success by promoting safe and healthy schools.
  • Prepare more teachers to teach the diverse learners in America’s schools including students with disabilities and English learners.

Focus the federal government’s role on the things it does best, while giving states and communities the flexibility they need to address the unique needs of their students and schools. 

  • Direct federal resources to turn around chronically struggling schools and those with significant achievement gaps and allow states to take student progress into consideration while rating schools.
  • Break down barriers and promote alignment from early learning to K-12 to higher education, and across federal education programs.
  • Consolidate and streamline programs in the current law and eliminate those that are duplicative or unnecessary.

Last year, Murray called on Washington state constituents to send in their stories and ideas as the committee worked to reauthorize ESEA.