Legislation Passed by Senate HELP Committee Helps to Address the Nation’s High School Dropout Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a bill to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement:
“No Child Left Behind is a compact disc in an iPod world. Today, it got a much-needed upgrade that will bring it-and the nation’s education system-into the twenty-first century.
“The Senate’s action today is particularly important for the nation’s high schools. Over 40 percent of the nation’s dropouts come from 12 percent of high schools, and, under NCLB, federal education policy did very little to turn around these schools.
“Under the bill passed by the Senate HELP committee, federal law-for the first time-would ensure that all high schools calculate graduation rates accurately. It would also ensure that high schools with graduation rates below 60 percent would undergo improvement and be eligible for funding to support these efforts.
“Additionally, the Senate’s bill would level the playing field for high schools to receive Title I funds-the federal government’s primary source of support for low-income students. Under current law, high schools only receive 10 percent of Title I funds even though they serve nearly one quarter of low-income students. This bill would help to make sure that more high school students can benefit from these resources.
“The legislation also recognizes that only one third of students entering high school are proficient in reading and supports state efforts to strengthen the reading and writing skills of all students.
“The bill will help to ensure that the high school diplomas students receive are meaningful-and businesses, parents and the community will know that the diploma is meaningful. Building on the work of states across the country, the legislation calls for college and career-ready standards. By raising standards and holding students to high expectations, the nation will help prepare its students for the competitive future that lies ahead.
“As the bill moves to the Senate floor, the Alliance looks forward to working with members of Congress to strengthen the bill’s accountability provisions to ensure that all low-performing high schools are identified and improved.
“I urge the Senate to move this bill to the floor quickly. High school students have waited long enough for better policy from Washington. For each additional day that action is delayed, another 7,000 students will drop out of school.”
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.com.