ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
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Last week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new chair of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released a discussion draft to launch the committee’s consideration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.
The discussion draft is very similar to the senator’s bill introduced during the last Congress, and focused on streamlining the Act and creating more state and local flexibility. In particular, the bill would eliminate requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress and Highly Qualified Teachers, allow states to define their own accountability systems, consolidate (or eliminate) most of the smaller competitive grant programs in the bill, including the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, and increase flexibility for states to identify and reform low-performing schools.
On the issue of testing, which has become one of the centerpieces of the current ESEA debate, the bill offers two options. Described in an Education Week article, Option A would “Let states choose their own testing adventure, including annual tests, portfolios, grade-span tests (a policy the National Education Association hearts), formative assessments, competency-based education, the whole shebang. Districts could also cook up their own assessment systems to use instead, with permission from their states.” Option B would include “The current NCLB testing regime, which calls for reading and math tests in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But there's a big twist. Under this option, districts could also go their own way on assessments, with the permission of their states.”
While there are references in the bill to preparing students for both college and career readiness, the streamlining that occurred left little language specifically aligned to career readiness activities or CTE priorities. ACTE will be continuing to work with Members of Congress, including Sen. Alexander, to increase focus on these areas throughout the bill.
The committee plans to hold its first ESEA reauthorization hearing of the year on January 21, focusing on testing and accountability, with several more hearings to follow. Leaders in both chambers of Congress have pledged to move an ESEA bill forward quickly. However, over the weekend, Secretary Duncan responded negatively to many of the provisions in Sen. Alexander’s draft in an op-ed in the Washington Post, setting up the potential for continued disagreement between Congressional leaders and the Administration (along with some congressional Democrats) about the future of the law.
Posted by Alisha Hyslop on 01/20/2015 at 08:49 AM in ESEA, Executive Branch, Standards and Assessments | Permalink
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