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Minnesota Educators Supporting Overhaul to No Child Left Behind

Some Minnesota educators are supporting parts of the new education overhaul to replace the No Child Left Behind Act. (iStockphoto)
Some Minnesota educators are supporting parts of the new education overhaul to replace the No Child Left Behind Act. (iStockphoto)
December 9, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The 14-year-old No Child Left Behind Act could be a step closer to ending. After a round of talks Tuesday, U.S. senators agreed to take a final vote today on the new Every Student Succeeds Act.

Some Minnesota educators praised the fact that the House passed a version of the ESSA last week with overwhelming bipartisan support.

For years, critics have said No Child Left Behind took a one-size-fits-all approach to the country's schools. Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, said that direction largely didn't work because the state's rural schools have much different needs than their urban counterparts.

"We do sometimes have a divide, the metro area versus greater Minnesota, and there doesn't need to be tension that way," she said. "This does bring local control back to school districts, and I think it will be welcomed."

The new act has less emphasis on standardized testing and gives states more freedom in deciding how much student test scores will count when evaluating teachers. However, opponents have said they fear the new law relies too heavily on Common Core standards.

In the House last week, 64 members voted against the changes, but all eight representatives from Minnesota backed the plan. Although the yearly tests of every student from third through eighth grade have survived in the new version, Specht said she doesn't see that as a negative.

"There is an opportunity for districts to take a look at how much testing they're doing, eliminating duplicative testing, so that we can are able to spend more time on teaching and learning," she said.

The ESSA also would give Minnesota and other states the power to set educational goals for specific schools and will allow districts to come up with their own solutions to turning around struggling schools. According to the New York Times, President Obama has hinted that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Text of the final bill is online at help.senate.gov.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN