By A. Noelle
On July 16, the United States Senate passed its bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal—Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177)—by an overwhelming 81 to 17 final vote count. The act addresses key constraints under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its accompanying regulations that have been plaguing public education for over a decade—a monumental step forward for the American educational system and all students, regardless of their socioeconomic situations.
The Every Child Achieves Act moves away from the test-and-punish system that has taken the joy out of teaching and learning. It will help end the overuse of high-stakes tests, punitive sanctions for schools, including school closings, and federal mandates for teacher evaluation.
It moves us toward collaborative strategies that maintain the law’s original intent to address poverty and educational inequality with targeted funding for children in poverty.
Although ECAA is not perfect, the Senate agrees that it presents significant improvements over the widely unpopular NCLB:
Every student in America will be better off under this legislation than the generation of students wronged by No Child Left Untested. This bill reflects a paradigm shift away from the one-size-fits-all assessments that educators know hurt students, diminish learning, narrow the curriculum and that they fought to change.
Lily Eskelsen García, National Education Association (NEA) President
One of the goals for ECAA is to move toward smarter assessments and accountability, eliminating the rigid yearly progress system and mandatory sanctions that have been responsible for some school closures in the past. By ridding schools of NCLB’s business model approach to education, teachers hope to focus more on what matters: giving all students access to quality education and making the learning experience enjoyable.
For the full text of the Every Child Achieves Act, click here.
For a summary of the key features, click here.