Every Child Achieves Act of 2015
The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 is a bill sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the law that governs the federal government's role in K-12 education. The most recent reauthorization of the ESEA was in 2001, through a law commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
This article provides an overview of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, including information about its main provisions and how they're meant to address the perceived shortcomings of the NCLB. You can track the status of the Act at the official Website of the U.S. Congress.
The ESEA and NCLB
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the ESEA into law. ESEA provided federal funding for textbooks and library materials, and for grants to certain school districts such as those serving low-income students.
In 2001, President George W. Bush signed the NCLB into law, which reauthorized the ESEA while making important changes. Although the NCLB expired in 2007, its provisions remain in effect until a replacement law is passed.
Perceived Shortcomings with the NCLB
Critics charge that the NCLB, rather than assisting school districts to improve, undermines efforts to reform education by forcing "high-stakes" tests upon school districts. Critics also argue that by focusing on test results and sanctions rather than approaching the issue of school performance from a wider perspective, the NCLB turned schools into rote-learning centers. Some who advocate for reform of the NCLB believe that it's particularly damaging to schools in low-income areas.
With no replacement law yet passed, President Obama recently issued waivers to some states to be exempt from the NCLB's requirements. If the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 passes, it'll have been a long time coming for the NCLB's many critics.
The Act's Main Provisions
One of the Every Child Achieves Act's main purposes is to address the NCLB's standardized testing requirements that many view as overly rigid and harmful to students and schools. Some steps that the Act takes to address the NCLB's perceived shortcomings include:
- Providing states and school districts with more control and flexibility: The Act would allow states to design their own testing systems, as long as they meet minimum federal standards. Currently, the NCLB holds school districts to strict federal standards.
- Helping states to assist the lowest-performing schools: The Act would award federal grants to states and school districts that are specifically meant to help those schools with the lowest student performance. The Act's authors promise that local school districts will have flexibility to create improvement plans that are most suitable.
- Providing more resources for teachers: If the Act becomes law, some teachers may receive additional funding to support class activities, and school districts may receive grants for teacher training and continuing education. As with its other provisions, the Act's authors promise flexibility to states and school districts in deciding how to spend federal money.
Supporters of the 2015 Act note that it keeps in place some of the NCLB's beneficial provisions. For example, supporters note that the Act continues to require schools and school districts to publish student performance scores. This is meant to allow parents to gauge school and teacher performance, and to allocate education resources more effectively. Critics argue that the Act doesn't do enough to improve access to early childhood education or to help students in low-income areas.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you have questions about the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, such as its key provisions and how your child or school district might be affected, you can consult with an experienced education lawyer through FindLaw's attorney directory.