Friday, July 19, 2013

Student Success Act | Student Success Act Passes House


The Student Success Act is a House Republican Bill that gives states more control over almost all aspects of Federally funded education. The problem is, repealing educational mandates that protected student's civil-rights may turn the clock back 40 years. The Student Success Act is like many GOP Education Bills or Democratic Bills, they do not build equity or quality education for poor or disabled students. The STUDENT SUCCESS ACT sounds good in name until you read some of the things that are repealed. The GOP and the Democrats are not listening to people like Pasi Sahlberg when he says the most important aspect of equality and quality education is highly trained Master Teachers. 

Finland is the world’s leader in delivering high quality equitable education, which results in amazing student outcomes. The glaring quantitative results come from innovative educational practices, master teachers, collaborative teaching, peer to peer teacher training and teacher lead schools that are free to make educational decisions. Finland has a long standing mandate of requiring master teachers in all classrooms nationwide. The teachers are recruited from the top 5% of college students. The US policymakers and education reformers believe you can become a teacher in 5 weeks. Five weeks of teacher training from a Teach for America course and you are ready to teach in the roughest inner-city schools. The Student Success Act legislation gets rid of some very important equality measures:  • Highly Qualified Teachers: The bill repeals section 1119 of current law, which sets federal requirements around teachers and paraprofessionals and removes the requirement that teachers be highly qualified. H.R. 3990, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, includes requirements for locally developed teacher evaluations, enabling federal teacher policy to move from onerous and meaningless burdens to strategies that will reassure parents that their students’ teachers are effective.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized more than 10 years ago as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), is in need of dramatic reform. Even though the law expired more than four years ago, legislation to update NCLB was never considered by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce until this Congress. Since assuming control of the House of Representatives, Republicans have passed a series of reauthorization bills out of the committee, including the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act, which passed the House with a broad bipartisan majority. The Student Success Act, along with the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, comprise the final pieces of Republicans’ efforts to reauthorize ESEA.

When it was enacted, NCLB was heralded as groundbreaking, and in some ways it was. The expanded use of data helped superintendents, school leaders, and teachers identify students most in need of additional instruction and offered parents access to important information about the quality of their schools. But we have now clearly identified the law’s weaknesses. Adequate Yearly Progress(AYP)is a one-size-fits-all metric that restricts states’ and school districts’ ability to appropriately gauge student learning and tailor curriculum to enable students to graduate high school prepared for post-secondary education or the workforce. The cascading system of mandated interventions has not worked as imagined and is not producing the desired results in low-performing schools. The law's numerous programs (more than 80 in all) impose tremendous paperwork and regulatory burdens on states and school districts and have demonstrated limited success in improving student achievement.

The Student Success Act offers a better way forward for education reform by:
• Returning responsibility for student achievement to states,school districts, and parents, 
while maintaining high expectations.
• Providing states and school districts greater flexibility to meet students’ unique needs.
• Investing limited taxpayer dollars wisely.
• Strengthening programs for schools and targeted populations.
• Maintaining and strengthening long-standing protections for state and local autonomy.

Returning Responsibility for Student Achievement to States, School Districts, and Parents, 
While Maintaining High Expectations 

The Student Success Act dramatically reduces the federal role in education by returning authority for measuring student performance and turning around low-performing schools to states and local officials. Across the country, states and school districts are leading efforts to reform the nation's troubled education system. As these bold reformers step up, the federal government can step back, limiting its role to ensuring parents have the information they need to judge the quality of their schools. The bill includes a number of key revisions to the current Title I program to increase state and local flexibility and restore local control of education.

• Academic Standards: Similar to current law, the bill requiresstates to establish academic 
standards that apply to all students and schools in the state in at least reading and math, 
while allowing states to develop standards in other subjects at their discretion. 

Achievement standards used for judging student and school performance must align with content standards, but the bill removes federal requirements for basic, proficient, and advanced levels of achievement. States are also allowed to establish alternate achievement standards aligned to the content standards for students with the most significant disabilities. Finally, the bill consolidates the requirements for English proficiency standards into the main Title I program.

• Academic Assessments: Similar to current law, the bill requiresstates to develop and 
implement a set of annual assessments in reading and math, the foundation for student 
learning. To reduce the burden of over-testing on our nation's students, the bill eliminates 
the federal requirement that states administer assessments in science. Statesretain the 
option to develop assessments in science and other subjects at their discretion. States are 
required to give the same reading and math assessmentsto all students in the state in each 
of grades 3-8 and once in high school. Assessments still must include reasonable 
accommodations for students with disabilities. States are allowed to adopt alternate 
assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities and computer 
adaptive assessments, and have the flexibility to use multiple measures of student 
achievement. The bill maintains requirements on disaggregating subgroup data, assessing 
the English proficiency of English learners, and ensuring 95 percent participation rates 
for all students and each subgroup, 

• Accountability: The bill eliminates Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and replaces it with 
a state-determined accountability system that must:

o Annually measure the academic achievement of all public school students against the
state’s academic standards (including growth toward the standards) using the 
statewide assessment and other academic indicators determined by the state. 

o Annually evaluate and identify the academic performance of each public school in the 
state based on student academic achievement, including the achievement of all 
students and achievement gaps between student subgroups. 

o Include a school improvement system implemented by school districts that includes 
interventions in poor performing Title I schools. 

• School Improvement: The bill requires states to include, as part of their statewide 
accountability structure, a system of school improvement interventions implemented at 
the local level for Title I schools that the state determines to be poorly performing. The 
bill repeals the federally mandated interventions included in sections 1116 and 1117 of 
current law, giving states and districts maximum flexibility to develop appropriate school 
improvement strategies and rewards for their schools. The bill increases the state setaside for school improvement to 7 percent (up from 4 percent), but eliminates the local 
set-asides, meaning more Title I money will flow directly to school districts. The bill 
eliminates the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program that the Secretary of Education
used to create four unworkable turnaround models, instead using those funds to increase 
the authorization level for the Title I program.

• Parent Information: The bill maintains the current requirement that states and school 
districts issue and distribute annual report cards, but streamlines the data reporting to 
ensure meaningful information is easily available to parents and communities. States and 
districts must report disaggregated student achievement data on the state assessment and
other academic indicators used in the statewide accountability system, participation rates 
on those assessments, the adjusted cohort graduation rate, each school’s evaluation under 
the statewide accountability system, English language proficiency, and results on the 4th
and 8th grade reading and mathematics National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP). The bill maintains parents’ right to know their students’ achievement levels, and 
movesthe right to know teacher professional qualificationsfrom Title I to Title II of the 

• Direct Student Services: The bill requires states to set aside 3 percent of Title I money to 
provide competitive grants to school districts that wish to offer tutoring or public school 
choice to their students, including those in poor performing schools. 

• Highly Qualified Teachers: The bill repeals section 1119 of current law, which sets
federal requirements around teachers and paraprofessionals and removes the requirement 
that teachers be highly qualified. H.R. 3990, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective 
Teachers Act, includes requirements for locally developed teacher evaluations, enabling
federal teacher policy to move from onerous and meaningless burdens to strategies that 
will reassure parents that their students’ teachers are effective.

• State Laws on Parent Authority: The bill includes a provision stating that nothing in the law should be interpreted to impact state laws on parent exercise of authority over low performing schools.
Providing States and School Districts Greater Flexibility to Meet Students’ Unique Needs

• Funding Flexibility: Consistent with H.R. 2445, the State and Local Funding Flexibility 
Act, the bill allows states and school districts to use funds for certain special population 
programs for any activity authorized under any of the other programs. This allows state 
and local officials to use federal funds to meet their own unique needs. While school 
districts will not be allowed to use funds received for Title I schools outside of those 
schools, they can move additional funding to low-income schools. The bill maintains 
separate funding streams for the Migrant Education, Neglected and Delinquent, English 
Language Acquisition, and Indian Education programs, but merges them into Title I.
• School wide Programs: The bill eliminates the 40 percent poverty threshold for 
school wide programs, allowing all Title I schools to operate whole school reform efforts. 
This change, included in the Obama administration's waiver package, will allow low income schools greater flexibility to consolidate programs and focus their efforts on 
raising the achievement of all students.
Investing Limited Taxpayer Dollars Wisely

• Authorization Levels: The bill limits funding authorizations to the FY 2012 appropriated 
levels. Consistent with the charge to increase public transparency and end the use of 
“such sums,” the bill ties potential funding increases to inflation. It also consolidates 
authorization levels into one section in the law.

• Reducing Department Bureaucracy: The bill requires the Secretary to eliminate the full 
time equivalent (FTE) employee positions associated with the eliminated and 
consolidated programs under the bill. Specifically, the Secretary would have two months 
to identify how many FTEs work on or administered programs that have been eliminated 
or consolidated under the legislation; he would then have one additional year to reduce 
the Department's workforce by that number.

• State and Local Spending Decisions: The bill removes all “Maintenance of Effort”
(MOE) requirements, allowing states and school districts to set their own funding levels 
for elementary and secondary education. These requirements are removed for four 

o Dictating how states and school districts spend their tax revenues as a condition of 
receiving federal funds is not an appropriate federal role.

o MOE requirements assume that increased education spending will improve
educational outcomes. Decades of data prove this argument false.

o MOE requirements provide disincentives for states and school districts to innovate 
and deliver better educational services more efficiently.

o Data from the U.S. Department of Education show that,since enactment of No Child 
Left Behind, nearly every school district request to waive MOE has been granted. The 
bill acknowledges this reality and eliminates the burden for districts.
At the same time, the legislation maintains the law’s “supplement, not supplant”
requirements, which ensure that federal dollars are used on top of state and local 
resources, protecting the traditional federal role in education. Maintaining these 
provisions will ensure states and districts will not be able to dramatically cut education 
spending and fill in the gaps with federal dollars. 
Strengthening Programs for Schools and Targeted Populations
The Student Success Act maintains separate funding streams for the Migrant Education, 
Neglected and Delinquent, English Language Acquisition, Rural Education, and Indian 
Education programs, but merges them into Title I of the law. The bill strengthens each program 
in key ways.

• Education of Migratory Children: The bill provides a reservation of funds to assist states 
in supporting high-quality educational programs and services to address the unique 
educational needs of migratory children, including during summer periods. The 
legislation strengthens how migrant student counts are determined in each state, basing 
state allocations on the average number of eligible full time equivalent migratory children 
from the previous three years and a count of the number of migratory children who 
receive services under summer programs. The bill also allows states, school districts, and 
other public and private entities to improve intrastate and interstate coordination and 
information exchanges regarding migratory children.

• Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth who are Neglected,
Delinquent, or At-Risk: The bill provides a reservation of funds to improve educational
services for students in state and local institutions or for those children who are transferring out of institutionalization. The legislation emphasizes receipt of a regular high school diploma to the extent feasible, and makes minor technical and clarifying

changes to improve the operation of the program.

• English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement:
The bill includes a reservation of funds to provide services to help non-English speakers 
learn English and meet state academic standards. The bill consolidates accountability and 
reporting requirements for English learners into the Title I program to encourage greater 
alignment, while maintaining student achievement expectations for these students and 
public reporting of progress. The bill changes how the Secretary of Education determines 
immigrant student and English learner counts, to ensure states and school districts receive 
accurate and reliable data and stabilize funding. Consistent with H.R. 1891, the Setting 
New Priorities in Education Spending Act, the bill eliminates the Improving Language 
Instruction Educational Programs, which have never been funded and are duplicative of 
the main program. 

• Rural Education: The bill reserves funds for rural school districts and schoolsin both the 
Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) Program and the Rural and Low-Income 
School (RLIS) Program. The legislation updates current locale codes, which determine 
eligibility of rural districts and schools under both programs, and includes a sliding scale 
hold harmless formula for districts that would become ineligible under the SRSA 
program because of the new codes. The bill allows school districts to apply for funding 
under both the SRSA and the RLIS Programs. 

• Indian Education: The bill reserves funds to meet the unique educational and cultural 
needs of American Indian students and encourages Indian tribes, communities, and 
parents to participate in the education of their children. The bill allows school districts 
and Indian tribes applying for formula grants to apply in consortia to maximize the use of 
federal funds. Consistent with H.R. 1981, the Setting New Priorities in Education 
Spending Act, the bill eliminates the Native Hawaiian Education and Alaska Native 
Education Equity programs, which are duplicative of other services and funds provided to 
these populations under Title I. The bill also eliminates the Fellowships for Indian 
Students program and the Improvement of Educational Opportunities for Adult Indians 
program, which have not been funded since 1995. It also eliminates the In-Service 
Training for Teachers of Indian Children Grant, the Gifted and Talented Indian Students 
program, and the Grants to Tribes for Education Administrative Planning and 
Development program, which have never received federal funding.
Maintaining and Strengthening Long-Standing Protections for State and Local Autonomy
The Student Success Act includes the General Provisions of ESEA, but moves them from the 
current Title IX to a new Title V. The bill maintains and strengthens these important protections 
for students, parents, communities, states, and school districts while eliminating other 
burdensome and duplicative requirements.

• Private School Students: The bill strengthens provisions to ensure the participation of 
private school students and teachers in the programs funded under the ESEA. The bill 
improves the consultation and negotiation processes to provide clearer procedures and 
faster notice for private school officials. These changes will better protect access for 
private school students. 

• Secretary’s Authority: The bill protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the 
classroom and limits the authority of the Secretary of Education. The legislation: (1) 
prohibits the Secretary from imposing conditions on states and school districts in 
exchange for a waiver of federal elementary and secondary education law; (2) prevents 
the Secretary from creating additional burdens on states and districts through the 
regulatory process, particularly in the areas of standards, assessments, and state 
accountability plans; (3) prohibits the Secretary from demanding changes to state 
standards and influencing and coercing states to enter into partnerships with other states; 
and (4) outlines specific procedures the Secretary must follow when issuing federal 
regulations and conducting peer review processes for grant applications, including 
publicly releasing the identity of peer reviewers, that will bring greater transparency.

• Military Recruiters: The bill improves the military recruiting provisions in current law by 
ensuring military recruiters have the same access to high schools as institutions of higher 

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