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Bipartisan senators try to fix No Child Left Behind

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) rolled out a rewrite of No Child Left Behind on Tuesday, suggesting that they have a path forward on replacing the Bush-era law.

Alexander said the legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, would give more decision-making power back to states and local school districts.

{mosads}”Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement,” he said in a statement.

The White House called the legislation “an important step” in replacing the No Child Left Behind Act.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama will “insist” on giving more flexibility to schools, and “making sure that teachers aren’t confined to teaching to the test.”

“We believe that any bill should ensure that teachers and parents know how their schools are doing every year, reject harmful proposals that would let states take away funding from schools that need it most, and make sure we remain committed to closing troubling achievement and opportunity gaps in America’s schools and driving progress in those that are the lowest-performing,” he said.

The legislation would require state and local districts to create “accountability systems” to help ensure that students are successful, which would include meeting federal minimum standards.

But, under the proposal, the federal government cannot determine or approve a state’s standards.

It also would keep two federally required tests on reading and math each year between third grade and eighth grade, as well as a test on science every three years between third and 12th grade. 

The legislation would also end No Child Left Behind’s “federal test-based accountability system,” allowing states to determine how to use the federal test to help determine accountability.

Murray also called the legislation an “important first step.”

“This bipartisan compromise is an important step toward fixing the broken No Child Left Behind law,” she said. “While there is still work to be done, this agreement is a strong step in the right direction.”

It would also reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Republicans have argued that the No Child Left Behind law is an overreach of the federal government. The Obama administration has been issuing No Child Left Behind waivers since 2011 after governors and school districts insisted the requirements were unrealistic.

The senators’ legislation comes after House leaders delayed a vote in February on the Bush-era law.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is expected to take up the proposal next Tuesday, after senators return from a weeks-long recess. 

—Updated at 6:21 p.m.

Tags Lamar Alexander Patty Murray

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