Policy Brief

Chiefs Crank Heat on ESEA Renewal

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If Congress fails to move soon on renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, states are poised to get going on their own ideas on accountability and other areas, according to a letter sent last week to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, education lawmakers, and party leaders on Capitol Hill.

Key lawmakers in Congress say they are gearing up to reauthorize the law, the current version of which is the No Child Left Behind Act. But if that doesn’t happen quickly, state schools chiefs plan to “propose new, innovative policy models in terms of accountability and other areas that move beyond” the NCLB law, the letter from the Council of Chief State School Officers says.

“We urge the administration and Congress to encourage and support this strategy—so that the current law doesn’t become a further barrier to innovation and achievement,” the letter adds.

The letter also makes clear that the CCSSO wants to see the federal government run with those state-led proposals, instead of making the sort of “discrete fixes” that other organizations—such as the American Association of School Administrators—have called for in asking for regulatory relief from the NCLB statute.

The chiefs say their new and improved plans would keep in place core parts of the law, including basing accountability on student outcomes.

Such elements include the current state-assessment schedule and progress on graduation rates, and disaggregation of data by subgroups, such as racial minorities and students in special education.

They also will seek to have their accountability plans work toward college and career readiness, and focus interventions on the lowest-performing schools, in addition to identifying top performers.

Beyond that, states may also propose other ideas, such as plans for a transition between the NCLB law and the new accountability systems. For instance, they might ask the Department of Education to let schools stay in their current accountability status while their states move to the new assessments and new models.

Vol. 30, Issue 20, Page 23

Published in Print: February 9, 2011, as Chiefs Crank Heat on ESEA Renewal
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