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CA Educators Hail Passage of Bill to Replace No Child Left Behind

California educators are praising the passage of a new education bill to replace No Child Left Behind. (bhester/morguefile)
California educators are praising the passage of a new education bill to replace No Child Left Behind. (bhester/morguefile)
December 10, 2015

LOS ANGELES - California education advocates are praising a bill that passed the U.S. Senate in a landslide on Wednesday and replaces No Child Left Behind. The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, which got a "yes" vote from Senators Boxer and Feinstein, returns much of the decision-making power back to the states.

President Obama is expected to sign it right away. Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers said for the past 14 years, No Child Left Behind and its successor policy, called Race to the Top, were too fixated on high-stakes testing.

"School site administrators were putting enormous pressure on teachers to raise test scores," says Pechthalt. "This led to a narrowing of the curriculum, pushing out things like art and music, spending enormous amounts of time doing test prep and testing."

The new bill gives states a lot more flexibility, rejecting the test-and-punish approach of No Child Left Behind. States can now use their own formulas for evaluating teachers and schools. Districts will no longer be forced to close schools and remove staff if students miss the cut on test scores.

Mary Kusler, director of government relations with the National Education Association, says states will be required to evaluate schools on the quality of the program which will be an incentive to go beyond the bare minimum.

"Every state will now, for the very first time, have to include at least one measure of student or school support, access to higher-level coursework, school counselors, school librarians, access to arts and music," says Kusler.

States still will be required to test kids on reading and math once a year in grades 3-8 and once in high school. Kids will be tested on science, one time each, during elementary, middle and high school.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA