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Refresher: What’s in the House ESEA Bill?

By Lauren Camera — June 14, 2015 2 min read
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House Republicans are hoping to resurrect debate this week on a bill that would overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was yanked from the floor in February after it unexpectedly began losing support from GOP members.

The measure was not on the Majority Leader’s weekly schedule, but sources said it could get called to the floor as early as Wednesday under a new rule that allows members to vote on three new amendments in addition to final passage of the bill.

Sounds like it’s time for a bill review ...

The Republican-backed measure, authored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the education committee, would:

  • Keep in place the testing schedule of the No Child Left Behind Act, the current version of the ESEA;
  • Eliminate the current accountability system, known as “adequate yearly progress";
  • Maintain the requirement that states disaggregate achievement data to show how subgroup students are doing compared to the student population as a whole;
  • Require states to intervene in Title I schools that aren’t performing well, but not tell states how to do so or how many schools to try to fix at a time;
  • Require states to come up with their own challenging academic standards in language arts, math, and science;
  • Prohibit the U.S. Secretary of Education from requiring states to adopt the Common Core State Standards, or any other set of standards;
  • Bar the secretary from putting “additional burdens” on states through the regulatory process when it comes to standards;
  • Eliminate NCLB’s “highly qualified” teacher requirements and consolidate other teacher quality programs.

During the two-day floor debate that occurred back in February, lawmakers added some additional provisions through the amendment process. Here are some of the highlights:

  • An amendment was adopted that would allow school districts to use locally designed tests in lieu of state tests;
  • An amendment was adopted that would allow states to use federal funds to audit the number and quality of tests they use, and eliminate any deemed repetitive or of low-quality;
  • An amendment was adopted that would ensure that American Indian children do not attend school in buildings that are dilapidated or deteriorating;
  • An amendment was adopted that would allow funds to be used for programs and activities that are designed to enhance school safety.

Notably, the White House issued a veto threat on the House bill, arguing that the measure represents a big step on back on accountability, particularly for the poor and minority students that the federal K-12 law was designed to help.

Also, if you want a little refresher on the entire reauthorization process thus far, check out this timeline of congressional action.