Congress has finally wrapped up the FY2012 budget bill – the House passed a $915 billion FY12 spending bill this past Friday, and the Senate followed suit on Saturday. The consolidated appropriations bill is the result of an agreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats and funds the government through September 30, 2012.
In submitting a request for a NCLB waiver, a state educational agency (SEA) must “meaningfully engage and solicit input from diverse stakeholders and communities in the development of its request.” The application specifically says that “business organizations” are among these stakeholders. In further guidance to states, the department noted that “ideally, an SEA will solicit input from stakeholders … and will strengthen its request by revising it based on this input.”
Considerable discussion in the education press has taken place regarding waivers—and for good reason. States awarded these waivers will essentially be allowed to rewrite a major portion of NCLB—at least until Congress takes action. Because these waivers are so significant, it’s worth looking at the fundamentals.
Since 1994, federal law has required states to establish standards and assessments that measure student mastery of those standards, and to identify and assist Title I schools that did not make sufficient progress. In 2001, when the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed, these requirements were strengthened. And for the first time, schools and districts were held accountable for ensuring that all students reach proficiency in math and reading by the 2013–2014 school year.
Readers who spend their time outside of the D.C. beltway or don’t live and breathe federal K–12 education seven days a week, may feel a little like a visitor to the United Nations when listening to the discussions heat up over the renewal (also called reauthorization, or rewrite) of No Child Left Behind (which is really the current name of a 1965 law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act). To assist, we have compiled a list of frequently used terms. While not exhaustive, it may help at least delay the headache that comes with squinting endlessly at acronyms.
In May, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) expanded its commitment to the preparation children receive prior to kindergarten, an area recent research has shown to be integral to academic success, with the announcement that new Race to the Top funds would be used for grants to enhance early childhood education Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius joined business, law enforcement, and military leaders to announce the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge, highlighting how investments in high-quality early learning programs help reduce crime, strengthen national security, and boost competitiveness.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act established two high-profile programs that have continued, thanks to subsequent funding from Congress. The first of these, Investing in Innovation (i3), awards three types of grants to incubate and test promising innovations in education. While the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires schools to use programs that are supported by research, very few products or programs in education meet this standard.
Judging by testimony provided at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on November 8, the least controversial component of the recently marked-up Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) rewrite is the requirement for college- and career-ready standards. Nearly all hearing witnesses praised the requirement, which would drive states to adopt more rigorous and challenging standards. Witnesses ranged from scholars to education reformers, to practitioners at the state, district, and school building levels.