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Viewpoints on the Student Success Act

Education has always been a hot-button topic in the United States, and rightfully so, as education policies can drastically alter the course of a student’s life. However, it seems that the subject has become even more polarized of late – especially because of conversations taking place over the Common Core State Standards – and now it looks like another factor is going to play into the education debates, the Student Success Act.
 
With the No Child Left Behind Act (also known as the Elementary and Second Education Act, or ESEA) having expired in 2007, efforts to rewrite the act have gone nowhere until last week. The House successfully passed the Student Success Act, a new measure of legislation that authorizes the federal government to rewrite the ESEA/NCLB. However, the bill’s momentum will likely lose steam as the House and Senate have each proposed drastically different revisions.
 
With the intention of clarifying the proposed rewrites to the ESEA, the Alliance for Excellent Education hosted a webinar titled “What’s Happening in Washington, DC?: A Federal Education Policy Update.” The webinar was led by three panelists from the Alliance – Phillip Lovell, Vice President of Federal Policy; Jessica Cardichon, Director of Federal Advocacy; and Fred Jones, Legislative Associate – and they thoroughly explained the differences of each proposed bill, and the chances of the bills ever being passed.
 
To highlight a few of the proposed revisions from both the House and Senate:
•Both the House and Senate want to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to graduate from high school college and workforce ready, but the Senate also wants to set “high expectations” for students to learn deep content knowledge and critical thinking skills.
•Both the House and Senate would prohibit the federal government from implementing universal national standards; the Senate specifically wants college- and career-ready state standards, whereas the House simply calls for “academic content and achievement standards”
•The Senate proposes to keep dedicated federal funding for state assessments, but new assessments would be implemented to assess the “full range of academic achievement standards and deeper learning skills; the House proposes to eliminate dedicated federal funding for assessments, and new assessments “may include measures for higher order thinking skills.”
•The Senate also wants to include the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN) Act, which would provide schools with professional development, technology infrastructures, new innovations, and assessments would be upgraded; the House includes no such provision.
 
These are only a few of the proposed changes – the full list of which can be found in the Alliance’s PowerPoint presentation here – but it is very clear that both sides are going to have to compromise quite a bit more before a new bill is passed into law.
 
NMSI’s main focus has been, and always shall be the helping the students of America. Despite what happens in the realm of politics – on a national or state level – we will continue to help our students get college- and career-ready by providing their teachers with the training and resources they need to be successful in the classroom. This summer alone, we are training more than 6,500 teachers in 27 states, and we expect that number to only grow exponentially over time. Are we concerned about these policy changes? Of course! But we are more concerned about helping our schools and giving students the skills they need to succeed.