December 2015

Congress Approves Historic Education Bill

Major changes for teachers and greater opportunities for students to succeed

"We applaud Congress for getting the job done—passing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—and doing what is right for students, teachers, and public education," said CEA President Sheila Cohen. "ESSA represents a new beginning for students who have suffered too long under Connecticut's failed policies of top-down reform and a broken system where excessive test prep and standardized testing rules the classroom."

The U.S. Senate today passed ESSA after it passed the House last week. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law tomorrow.

"ESSA gives students new opportunities, support, tools, and time to learn," said Cohen.

The bipartisan bill reauthorizes the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The most recent version of ESEA, known as No Child Left Behind, was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

Efforts by the U.S. Department of Education to waive certain NCLB requirements placed numerous, onerous demands on states and shifted even more focus to test scores and away from student-centered learning.

ESSA provides new areas of state authority and the opportunity for teachers to advocate for new state laws and guidelines that enhance teaching and learning.

The bill allows for a reduction in the amount of standardized testing in schools and, most importantly, permits the decoupling of high-stakes decision-making and statewide standardized tests so that students have more time to learn and teachers have more time to teach. ESSA also begins to close opportunity gaps confronting students by providing a new accountability system that includes—for the first time—indicators of opportunity and student support.

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