The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is going through Congress. This is the most recent re-authorization of ESEA (which turned into No Child Left Behind Act.)
Here is some of the explanation:
The top-line stuff: The ESSA is in many ways a U-turn from the current, much-maligned version of the ESEA law, the No Child Left Behind Act.
States would still have to test students in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, and break out the data for whole schools, plus different “subgroups” of students (English-learners, students in special education, racial minorities, those in poverty).
But beyond that, states get wide discretion in setting goals, figuring out just what to hold schools and districts accountable for, and deciding how to intervene in low-performing schools. And while tests still have to be a part of state accountability systems, states must incorporate other factors that get at students’ opportunity to learn, like school-climate and teacher engagement, or access to and success in advanced coursework.
States and districts will have to use locally-developed, evidence-based interventions, though, in the bottom 5 percent of schools and in schools where less than two-thirds of students graduate. States must also flag for districts schools where subgroup students are chronically struggling.
The federal School Improvement Grant program is gone, but there are resources in the bill states can use for school turnarounds.
And, in a big switch from the NCLB waivers, there would be no role for the feds whatsoever in teacher evaluation.
Go to the link to read more: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2015/11/esea_reauthorization_the_every.html
To me the bill seems like a pull back from the federal role and a lot of nominal reform that won’t achieve much, but this is a preliminary opinion and I have to read more about it.