The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Congress to complete its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act before it adjourns later this year.
Through its “ESEA Now” campaign, NSBA is urging school board members and other educators to contact their Washington representatives on Wednesday, May 9 to push for an overhaul of the law, which is now five years past due. The House and Senate education committees have passed bills that, while not perfect, would be a large improvement over the existing law. NSBA is calling on both chambers to pass these bills and quickly reconcile their differences.
“Nobody believes that the No Child Left Behind law is working the way it was intended, and Congress needs to complete its work and relieve all schools from its flawed accountability measures,” said NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County Board of Education in Kentucky. “We need to move toward a system that emphasizes 21st century skills and common core standards rather than testing and ineffective sanctions.”
Working with a coalition of nine other major organizations of state and local government officials, NSBA also is calling on Congressional leaders to move forward now on a floor vote for ESEA reauthorization.
A resolution passed by NSBA’s Delegate Assembly, which includes state association leaders representing the more than 90,000 school board members across the country, last month urges Congress to include the following provisions in a comprehensive reauthorization:
- Ensure states and local school districts have greater flexibility to make educationally sound decisions, and be free of mandates that unnecessarily or counterproductively hinder school districts from achieving their goals (i.e., mandating the expansion of charter schools and standardized tests as a measure of accountability, and conditioning federal funding on the adoption of state-led common core standards);
- Ensure the accountability systems accurately and fairly report student, school, and school district performance; Ensure high-quality, valid, and reliable assessments for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
- Support the use of multiple measures of academic achievement that will more accurately determine students’ knowledge and performance that reflect a well-rounded education necessary to be successful in the 21st century economy, as opposed to judging success on their performance on a single assessment;
- Permit the use of growth models and other measures of student achievement that more accurately reflect student and school performance; Facilitate strategic interventions that are designed at the local or state level and are targeted to students and schools most in need, rather than impose ineffective and costly sanctions;
- Provide support to states and school districts and ensure their flexibility to establish programs to enhance teacher/principal quality focusing on preparation, recruitment, retention, and evaluation;
- Provide support to school districts to give all children, including migratory children, the opportunity to reach their full potential;
- Support efforts by school districts, through a separate funding stream, to develop, expand, coordinate, and enhance the quality and availability of voluntary preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year old children; and
- Fully fund the law, along with other federal assistance programs that are critical to successfully achieving the goals of the new law, and limit the expansion of competitive grants where such expansion would result in level funding of formula-based grants so critical to students in poverty.