Who will determine what a 'failing' school is under Every Child Achieves Act?
- Despite compromises made on the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, disagreement remains as to how failing schools are identified and whether that job is best left to the federal government.
- The Washington Post reports that the Congressional Tri-Caucus is pushing for a change that would give the federal government authority to make states intervene when schools miss testing goals for subgroups like low-income or minority students two years in a row.
- Opposed to such a move are Republicans and the National Education Association — a surprise to some, given that the union has historically been allied with Democrats — with the former calling it federal overreach and the latter wary of the stiff, test-based consequences built into No Child Left Behind.
Included in the Tri-Caucus are the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian America Pacific Caucus, and a letter sent by the groups to the Senate on Wednesday states their refusal to support the bill unless key changes are made. The Tri-Caucus' stance is in line with that of the Obama administration and dozens of civil rights groups, according to The Washington Post. As mentioned above, the NEA's stance is particularly notable in this instance for pitting it against these usual allies.
The current version of the Every Child Achieves Act would put authority at the state level when it comes to determining whether a school is failing, how to intervene, and how much emphasis is placed on standardized test scores. The Washington Post reports that No Child Left Behind's definition of "failing," based on a student subgroup's failure to meet federal testing goals, was unpopular and that concern over the Tri-Caucus' suggested changes revolve around the potential to recreate the same law. Education Trust President Kati Haycock, however, told the paper that there's little likelihood of that happening if the Tri-Caucus' amendment is accepted because it doesn't include federally-defined testing goals or interventions.
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