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Is the Reauthorization of ESEA in Sight?

Roughly 82 percent of schools will face sanctions for failing to make AYP under the current regulations of NCLB.
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) heads the Education and Workforce Committee in the House of Representatives. The House does not have a timeline yet for ESEA reauthorization.

In March, U.S. Secretary of education arne Duncan estimated that 82 percent of schools could fail to make adequate yearly Progress in the 2011- 2012 school year. The startling statistic left many wondering whether the problem was with the schools or with the guiding policy of no child Left Behind.

"That statement was really alarming, but it allowed america to say, 'There's no way 82 percent of schools are failing.' Something must be wrong in the statute. Something with our accountability system is broken," said noelle ellerson, assistant director for policy analysis and advocacy with the american association of School administrators (AASA).

The Urgency to Address NCLB

For this reason, AASA, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and other education advocacy groups are pushing for NCLB to be addressed before the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, or in the absence of that, for regulatory relief. According to Ellerson, regulatory relief would lift sanctions imposed on schools that will not make AYP for the upcoming year, although it would not affect those who have failed to make AYP in the past.

"If NCLB's accountability provisions can't be addressed before the 2011-2012 school year starts through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Congress must enact legislation to defer the implementation of sanctions in the current law, but continue reporting requirements to the public and school officials," said Michael Resnick, NSBA associate executive director for advocacy and public policy, in a statement.

A priority for AASA is a new policy that retools the accountability provision including growth-model assessments. "I think you'll see some movement around making tests actually reflect the growth of students," says ellerson.

Although it may feel as though ESEA reauthorization has been placed on the back burner, Ellerson says it is still the number one priority in both the House and Senate education committees.

"There are some pretty big issues that need to be worked out with eSea, and other major legislation had their hands tied," says Ellerson. "I genuinely believe that both the committees [in the House and Senate] understand the need to get this bill reauthorized and are putting forth good faith efforts to get it done."

The Senate committee had a timeline and hoped to propose a bill by Easter. The House committee, however, does not have a timeline yet, as many of the members are either freshmen or are new to the education committee and are trying to gauge their priorities for reauthorization.