House, Senate ESEA Compromise Sails Through Conference Committee

Nov 19, 2015 by

fix nclb

“House, Senate ESEA Compromise Sails Through Conference Committee”

By Alyson Klein


After more than a decade, Congress seems to be on the verge of leaving the almost-universally despised No Child Left Behind Act … well, behind.

Lawmakers on the U.S. Senate education committee and more than a dozen House members—amid much bipartisan backslapping—voted Thursday 39-1 to approve a bicameral, bipartisan compromise measure that would scale back the federal role in education in the underlying Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time since the early 1980s. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is running for president, was the only lawmaker to vote “No,” and did so by proxy.

The compromise gives states acres of new running room on accountabililty, while holding firm on the NCLB law’s requirement for annual testing and data that shows how at-risk students are performing compared to their peers. And it includes some protections for perennially foundering schools, so-called “drop-out factories,” and schools where poor and minority students, or students in special education and those just learning English, are struggling. 

Even before the official start of the conference, the lead negotiators, Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., came to a preliminary agreement or “framework” to jump-start negotiations. Their proposal borrows ideas from both a Republican-only measure that barely passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, and a Senate version that cleared the U.S. Senate with big, bipartisan support a few days later

The agreement, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” helped guide the conference process and formed the basis for the official compromise approved Thursday. The legislation is expected to be on the floor of both chambers shortly after the Thanksgiving recess. 



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