|(ESEA) Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
If you have been following the legislative path of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), you will recall the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, initially authorized in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was signed into law on January 8, 2002 as a means of holding states, school districts, and schools more accountable for improving the academic performance of each student regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, proficiency in English or disability. In March of 2010, when ESEA was already two years past due for reauthorization, a plan for reauthorization titled, “A Blueprint for Reform” was released, proposing a shift in the focus of education toward world-class, 21st century education for all American students to ensure that they could compete in the global economy:
This plan included:
- Restructuring ESEA to consolidate programs so that 38 authorities would be reduced to 11.
- Increase flexibility for the ways states can utilize education funding
- Added incentives for opening Race to the Top competitions to school districts.
- The use of rigorous standards to implement evidence-based practices to improve educational outcomes.
- Provide a means of rewarding states for success in setting and accomplishing goals for student achievement.
The Council for Educational Children (CEC) published a set of recommendations for ESEA reauthorization. The full document can be found on the CEC website, under Policy and Advocacy:
The ESEA Guiding Principles include:
- Support for a well prepared successful educational workforce.
- Meaningful systems that encourage collaborative an supportive measurement.
- Evaluation, and reward of professional performance, stronger assessment and accountability for all children.
- Requirements to meet the needs of gifted learners.
- Improved outcomes for all children through the collaboration of all educators.
- Strategies to create positive school reform.
- Full funding to execute goals and provisions of ESEA.
- Careful coordination of ESEA and IDEA to insure effective systems of assessment and accountability for a diverse population of children, including those who are gifted or have disabilities.
In its recommendations, CEC outlines detailed recommendations within each of these guiding principles along with a rationale for recommendations made.
New Bipartisan Legislation:
Taking a more traditional approach, a bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) to reauthorize ESEA. The bill proposed a measure to increase the equity of funding for schools across districts and states, and to expand the initiatives of Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhood programs. It keeps the current testing system in place, but eliminates the 2013-14 deadline for bringing all students to the level of proficiency in reading and math.
Additional issues addressed in the bill include:
- Expanded learning time.
- Improvements in educational opportunities for students in juvenile justice facilities.
- Making full-day kindergarten for all children
- The development of college and career readiness standards.
- Reduces federal accountability requirements to only a small percentage of low-performing schools.
- Does not include a requirement for states to use a particular means of evaluation systems.
- Identifies the lowest performing 5% of schools for intense intervention.
Key elements most relevant to transition for students with disabilities which have been introduced and partially or fully passed:
- The provision of inclusive educational opportunities and access to the general education curriculum for students with disabilities through closer collaboration between general and special educators.
- The inclusion of college and career readiness standards that apply to students with disabilities as well as students without disabilities.
- Assessment of teacher and school performance based at least in part on outcomes of all students, including those with disabilities.
- Implementation of requirements to increase teacher quality, including assurance that standards will apply to special educators and transition teachers.
- Standards to address increased educational and professional development requirements for special education assistants who work with students who have disabilities.
From this point forward, DCDT will make a concerted effort to provide membership with information and resources pertaining to education reform and transition policy issues. DCDT members are urged to weigh in positions and advocate through legislative contacts, national committees, and platforms.