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The Daily Dish: Accountability Still a Concern as Congress Moves Forward on NCLB Rewrite

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July 20, 2015 02:33 pm

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The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.


In the past two weeks, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed bills to rewrite the long-expired No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The scaled back role of federal government involvement when it comes to intervening in low-performing schools proposed by the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) from the Senate and the Student Success Act from the House have many concerned over the lack of mandated accountability measures in both pieces of legislation.

The International Business Times’ Julia Glum examined Monday the push back the House and Senate have faced over the issue of accountability from several education advocacy organizations, including the Alliance for Excellent Education, as well as the White House. Glum writes, “[These] groups say they’re concerned that shift would cause the updated law to stray too far from its original purpose. They say the federal government’s role is critical in protecting certain minority subgroups of children — specifically, those who are Hispanic, black, low-income, learning English or disabled.”

Glum draws expertise from Phillip Lovell, vice-president of policy and advocacy at the Alliance, who says “the federal government shouldn’t necessarily set what form school interventions take — only that they must exist.”

As Lovell says in the article – the two bills as they stand have the potential to setback gains made in achievement for underserved students and students of color. Others would agree. In a Q&A with Sandy Kress – an original architect of NCLB – NPR Ed’s Claudio Sanchez examined the “flaws and big differences” the ESEA rewrite made for the education of low-income students and students of color. Kress says in the interview that while many have called NCLB overreaching in testing and federal intervention in state education, backers like himself recognize the improvements it afforded the neediest students.

“The truth is that the reforms enacted under NCLB clearly helped all students improve their learning,” Kress said during the Q&A. “White children improved, but disadvantaged children improved even more in significant degrees. And we saw some narrowing in the achievement gap. You’d think this would be important and that we would build on it.”

While there is a continued push for more federal level accountability measures, states are showing what they can do to adequately intervene for students that need it most. Sarah Tully of EdSource outlined recent changes to California’s accountability system that aims to help the state’s 310,000 homeless student population. Tully notes that the law is the first of its kind nationwide, requiring that “homeless students now must be included specifically in school districts’ Local Control and Accountability Plans to show how their needs are being met.” This includes tracking test scores.

Still, as the House and Senate prepare to conference over the two bills, the Alliance’s Phillip Lovell said in last week’s special edition Federal Flash that finishing the job of replacing NCLB with a law that among other things drives progress for underserved students will come down to a collaborative effort by Congress and the White House as well as an agreement on the bill’s accountability system.

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