Last week, we witnessed the passage of the newest re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act. The legislation’s predecessor, the much-debated and much-criticized No Child Left Behind Act, has officially been supplanted. In the week since the President signed the bill into law, much has already been written in response, and sentiments are mixed. What follows is a (very) short overview of some of the articles and pieces of analysis that we have found most useful in understanding the reception of the new law.
Some positive features of note:
- The act’s bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.
- The shift in responsibility for evaluating schools’ progress from the federal government to state and local educational agencies, which, according to some proponents, will remove some of the more punitive school and teacher evaluation practices we have come to associate with NCLB.
- Specific language that includes school librarians under the heading of “specialized instructional support personnel,” paving the way for increased federal funding for school library programs.
- Funds becoming available for effective educational technology implementations
Critics of the law have voiced caution, however, predicting that despite claims to the contrary, few changes to heavy school testing schedules are likely to take place on the ground. Other critics have raised concerns that the new legislation’s vague definitions of state-controlled school evaluation will actually harm already underserved student populations who are most in need of improved educational opportunities.