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U.S. Senate Votes to Repeal Education Accountability Rules Issued by Obama Administration Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

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March 09, 2017 03:28 pm

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Today, the U.S. Senate voted 50-49 to repeal important accountability regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that were issued by the Obama administration. U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio was the only Republican who voted against the measure, joining all 46 Democrats and two Independents in opposing it.

In announcing his decision to oppose the repeal, Portman stressed the importance of holding schools accountable for results while also providing parents with accurate information on how their children are performing.

“These measures balance state flexibility while reinforcing protections for students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families,” Portman said. “We have a role to play in helping ensure these children achieve their God-given potential and I urge my colleagues to join me in preserving these protections for students who have too often been marginalized and forgotten.”

Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise agreed with Portman, saying that states need “clarity and certainty, not confusion from Congress.”

Wise said the Senate’s vote to repeal the accountability regulations discards important safeguards and opportunities to ensure that all students are making progress.

“The rules give states both the clarity and flexibility they need move forward with implementation of ESSA, which is why they are supported by everyone from civil rights groups to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” Wise said. “Repealing them now—less than a month before a third of the states submit their plans to the Education Department—creates uncertainty and confusion for all those working hard to move forward with the transition to the new law.”

Going forward, Wise hopes that states will “continue to use the regulations as a roadmap to help ensure that their plans give all students access to an excellent and well-rounded education.” Wise also asked states to “remember that the most important equity provisions—statewide accountability, transparency for parents, and required intervention in struggling schools—are in the statute itself.”

As states develop their ESSA plans, they should take care to ensure that subgroups of students with low graduation rates do not fall through the cracks, but are appropriated identified for additional support.

Additionally, states should ensure that school letter grades attempting to provide an overall evaluation of the student body do not mask low performance by smaller groups of students. They should also take care to accurately measure and report high school graduation rates to ensure that low-performing high schools receive support.

Jason Amos is Vice President of Communications at the Alliance for Excellent Education.

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