To the Editor:
In his Commentary “Rokita: Rethinking ESEA With the Student Success Act” (edweek.org, June 28, 2013), U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., rightly points out that the proposed Student Success Act would reduce the level of federal intrusion and restore educational decisionmaking to states and local officials. This approach provides the foundation for innovation in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and accountability.
All across the country, districts have different needs. The innovations needed to help low-income students, English-language learners, and other high-need students graduate from high school and become college-ready depend on changes that fit the students, staff, and families in their respective communities.
Under the Student Success Act, states would be free to choose approaches that fit their circumstances. Similarly, 40 states and the District of Columbia have been granted waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act allowing them to keep their current systems, modify them, or build better systems because the waivers mean they are free to innovate. School improvement occurs when teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents are encouraged to continuously search for better approaches to increase learning.
As a former superintendent of schools, I know firsthand the positive impact generated by bringing these people together for a common goal.
The Student Success Act is not perfect. That’s why we welcome the opportunity to work with our education policymakers in the U.S. Senate to make improvements. We will look to the Senate bill and any related conference reports to strengthen language to ensure that all public schools—including charters—are treated equitably, to restore maintenance-of-effort language, and to eliminate and avoid proposals aimed at Title I funding portability.
We thank our elected officials for taking a courageous stand. For the first time in more than a decade, we have a bill that would address the problems associated with relying on a single test score, using achievement tests for accountability, and using zero-tolerance accountability instead of recognizing levels of success.
Daniel A. Domenech
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
A version of this article appeared in the August 28, 2013 edition of Education Week as AASA Chief Endorses Student Success Act