July 06, 2015

S. 1177 – Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

Noteworthy

Background: On April 16, 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee voted to report S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, out of committee by a vote of 22 to 0.

Floor Situation: It is anticipated that the Senate will begin consideration of S. 1177 on Tuesday, July 7.

Executive Summary: The bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through fiscal year 2021. It would require states to adopt academic standards for math, reading, and science and any other subject as determined by the state. The bill includes testing requirements, but leaves it to states to determine how important these tests are to their overall accountability system, and allows states to include other measures of student achievement, student support, and school quality. States are to design their own systems for evaluating and holding schools accountable by identifying those schools each state determines to be in need for intervention and support. It maintains federal grants to states and local school districts to help improve schools identified by state accountability system. S. 1177 adds support for charter schools and maintains reporting of disaggregated data. It also strengthens prohibitions against the federal government controlling the adoption of specific academic standards or assessments, such as the Common Core State Standards. The bill represents lengthy bipartisan negotiations to reauthorize ESEA, which is the primary source of federal funding for K-12 education. It was last reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 through fiscal year 2007. While Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA since NCLB expired, its program continues to receive annual appropriations.

Overview of the Issue

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is the primary source of federal aid to K-12 education, particularly its Title I, Part A program of Education for the Disadvantaged. The ESEA was initially enacted in 1965, and was most recently amended and reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which reauthorized programs through fiscal year 2008.

NCLB initiated an expansion of federal influence upon several aspects of public K-12 education, with the aim of increasing accountability of public schools and improving achievement of all students. States are required to implement in all public schools a variety of standards-based assessments in reading, math, and science; make complex annual adequate yearly progress determinations for each public school and district; and require all public school teachers to meet qualification requirements. State policies were required to incorporate an ultimate goal of all public school students reaching a “proficient” or higher level of achievement by the end of the 2013-14 school year. Participating states are to enforce a series of escalating consequences for schools and school districts that fail to meet adequate yearly progress standards for two consecutive years or more. All of these requirements are associated with state participation in the ESEA Title I-A program.

Other major ESEA programs provide grants to support the education of migrant students; recruitment of and professional development for teachers; language instruction for limited English proficient students; after-school instruction and care; expansion of charter schools and other forms of public school choice; education services for Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native students; Impact Aid to compensate local educational agencies for taxes foregone due to certain federal activities; and a variety of innovative educational approaches or instruction to meet particular student needs.

While Congress has not acted to reauthorize the ESEA since it expired, the Obama administration has made available an ESEA flexibility package that waives various academic accountability requirements, teacher-qualification related requirements, and funding flexibility requirements that were enacted through NCLB. In exchange for these waivers, states must agree to meet a set of principles established by the Department of Education.

The ESEA flexibility package brought about a fundamental redesign by the administration of many of the requirements included in current law. The Department of Education has approved ESEA flexibility package applications for 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and is reviewing applications from Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and the Bureau of Indian Education. Oklahoma and Washington state are the only states to have lost their waivers. Oklahoma’s waiver was later reinstated.

During the 112th and 113th Congresses, both committees with jurisdiction reported ESEA reauthorization bills. In the 113th Congress, an ESEA reauthorization bill – H.R. 5, the Student Success Act – passed the House. The full Senate has not considered ESEA reauthorization since NCLB.

Considerations on the Bill

On April 30, the Senate HELP Committee reported S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, which provides comprehensive reauthorization of the ESEA. The committee held multiple hearings on ESEA reauthorization, specifically on innovation on February 3, on teachers and school leaders on January 27, and on testing and accountability on January 21.

Notable Bill Provisions

Title I – Improving Basic Programs Operated by State and Local Educational Agencies

Section 1002 – Authorization of appropriations

Authorizes such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal year 2016 through 2021.

Section 1003 – School improvement and state administration

Amends existing law to allow each state to reserve not more than four percent per year of its allocation to carry out the state’s functions related to school intervention and support, and a statewide system of technical assistance for local educational agencies. States must allocate 95 percent of reserved funds to local educational agencies and prioritize those that serve the lowest performing schools, demonstrate the greatest need for funds, and demonstrate the strongest commitment to evidence-based interventions.

Section 1004 – State plans

States seeking Title I funding must submit a state plan, which must include consultation with key stakeholders in its development. All state plans will be deemed approved within 90 days of submission unless the secretary of education provides substantial evidence that the plan will not meet federal requirements. The secretary does not have authority to require a state to adopt specific academic standards, academic assessments, annual goals or timelines for indicators in accountability system, or a teacher or principal evaluation system as a condition of approving a state’s plan.

Each state must provide an assurance that it has adopted challenging academic standards. States may adopt alternative academic standards for students with significant disabilities. The secretary does not have authority to mandate, direct, control, coerce or exercise any direction or supervision over the state’s standards or require a state to submit any standards for approval. Each state will implement statewide academic assessments in math, reading/language arts, and science. Math and reading/language arts assessment shall be conducted annually in each of grades three through eight and at least once in grades nine through 12; science assessment shall be conducted at least once each in grades three through five, six through nine, and 10 through 12. The state can provide an alternative assessment for students with significant disabilities. The section leaves to state or local law the decision of a parent or guardian to opt a child out of participating in these assessments.

Each state will implement a statewide accountability system with annually established goals for academic achievement and graduation rates. The state must annually report on select measures, for all students and each category of students. States may use additional indicators in their accountability systems if they choose. States must measure not less than 95 percent of all students and each of the categories of students that are required to take assessments. The secretary may not require specific metrics of student growth or specific goals for any indicators, nor the specific weight given to any measures in the accountability system.

Each state and local educational agency will disseminate an annual state report card, which must include information for all students and each category of students. The report will include a description of the state accountability system; the weights of the indicators used; student academic performance; high school graduation rates; professional qualifications of teachers, principals, and other school leaders; information on the schools identified as needing intervention and support; and the evaluation results of teachers, principals, and other school leaders in the aggregate.

Each local educational agency is required to submit a plan to the state. The plan must include measures similar to the state plan. The plan must ensure that all instructional staff meet state certification and licensing requirements and describe actions the local educational agency will take to assist and monitor schools needing intervention and support.

Annually, each state must identify public schools that need intervention and support, and indicate this information on local educational agency and school report cards. Dedicated funding is provided through formula grants to states to develop and implement appropriate evidence-based intervention and support strategies. The state must monitor and evaluate the implemented strategies, provide technical assistance, and take appropriate steps to further assist if the interventions are not effective in raising student achievement. The secretary may not set specific methods to identify schools or strategies that states or local educational agencies use to assist schools by the state accountability system.

Section 1008 – Coordination requirements

Amends existing law to strike references to Early Reading First, update references to early childhood education programs, and require that local educational agencies using Title I funds for early childhood education develop agreements with Head Start agencies and other entities to carry out such activities.

Section 1012 – Academic assessments

Authorizes formula assessment grants to states for activities including developing assessments aligned with state standards with accommodations for English learners and children with disabilities, developing English language proficiency assessments, and refining state assessments in reading, mathematics, or science. Authorizes competitive assessment grants to states for activities including collaborating with other organizations to improve assessments.

Authorizes the secretary to award competitive grants to states and local school districts to conduct audits of their testing systems. Authorizes a demonstration program for the creation of innovative assessment systems in lieu of their state assessment system.

Section 1014 – Neglected, delinquent, or at-risk children and youth

Strengthens and improves educational services for children and youth in institutions for neglected and delinquent juveniles. Includes an assurance that each state educational agency has procedures to ensure the prompt re-enrollment of each student who has been placed in juvenile justice system into a secondary school or in a re-entry program. Allows funds to be used for programs for at-risk Indian children and youth.

Section 1015 – General provisions

Requires negotiated rulemaking for regulations related to standards, assessments, state accountability systems, school intervention and supports, and supplemental requirements. Requires an alternative process for regulations if consensus is not reached through negotiated rulemaking.

Section 1016 – Report on educational stability of children in foster care

Within two years of enactment, requires the secretary of education and the secretary of health and human services to submit to Congress a report on the educational stability of children in foster care.

Title II – High-Quality Teaches, Principals and Other School Leaders

Section 2002 – Fund for improvement of teaching and learning

Authorizes funding at such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021 to carry out: Grants to States and Local Educational Agencies; National Activities; Teacher and School Leader Incentive Fund; American History and Civics Education; Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation; and Improving STEM Instruction and Student Achievement.

Part A – Fund for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning

Formula Grants to State

  • Requires the secretary to reserve funds for U.S. territories and the Bureau of Indian Education and to distribute remaining funds to states through a formula. States will receive a portion of what they received under Title II, Part A, for fiscal year 2001, which will decrease over the course of seven fiscal years. Remaining funds will be distributed based on formula.
  • Allows states to reserve up to five percent of funds for state activities. States may reserve an additional three percent for activities related to principals and school leaders.
  • Requires states to submit a plan, in consultation with stakeholders, to the secretary containing a description of the use of funds and assurances that the state will monitor the implementation of activities carried out with Title II funds. States need to describe various activities, including the state system for licensing teachers, how activities are aligned with state standards, and if the state is going to use the funds to improve access to teachers, as well as a description of how funds will be used to meet Title I requirements related to that purpose.
  • Prohibits the secretary or any other federal officer from directing any elements of evaluation systems, the definition of teacher, principal, or other school leader effectiveness, or professional standards, certification, or licensing for teachers, principals, or school leaders.

Subgrants to Local Education Agencies

  • Local educational agencies will receive funds from the state on a formula based on 20 percent for children ages five through 17, and 80 percent for children ages five through 17 in poverty.
  • Local educational agencies must submit a needs assessment, conducted in consultation with education stakeholders. Allows local educational agencies to use funds to implement activities based upon the needs assessment.
  • Authorizes the secretary to use funds for technical assistance to states and local educational agencies, and evaluations of Title II activities. Requires competitive grants to eligible entities, such as institutions of higher education or national nonprofit or for-profit entities, for alternative teacher certification or preparation, or professional development. Also requires competitive grants to state or local educational agencies, or nonprofit organizations or institutions of higher education, for activities related to improving recruitment, preparation, placement, support, and retention of effective principals and other school leaders.

Part B – Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program

Authorizes the secretary to award competitive grants to develop or expand performance-based compensation systems. Each eligible entity must fulfill a matching requirement of 50 percent from non-federal sources.

Section 2003 – American history and civics education

Part C – American History and Civics Education

Authorizes the secretary to award competitive grants to promote history, civic, and geography instruction, the teaching of traditional American history, and learning strategies and professional development for educators related to those subjects.

Section 2004 – Literacy education

Part D – Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation

Authorizes the secretary to award competitive grants to states to develop comprehensive literacy instruction plans to improve instruction for at-risk students. Subgrants can be made to support high-quality early literacy initiatives for children from birth through kindergarten, in grades kindergarten through five, and in grades six through 12.

Section 2005 – Improving STEM Instruction and student achievement

Part E – Improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Instruction and Student Achievement

Authorizes the secretary to award formula grants to states to improve classroom instruction, enhance student engagement, and increase student achievement in STEM subjects. States may distribute subgrants to high-need local educational agencies or outside partners. States may also use funds to recruit qualified teachers and instructional leaders in STEM subjects or to develop a STEM master teacher corps.

Title III – Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students

Section 3002 – Authorization of appropriations

Authorizes such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021.

Section 3003 – English language acquisition and enhancement

Amends existing law to include establishing and implementing, in consultation with local educational agencies, standardized statewide entrance and exit procedures for English learners, educator professional development, and preparation to improve teaching skills.  

Section 3121 – Reporting

Amends existing law to include reporting on the number and percentage of English learners meeting state-determined goals for progress, disaggregated by long-term English learners and English learners with a disability, those attaining English proficiency and exiting the program, among other measures.

Title IV – Safe and Healthy Students

Section 4103 – Formula grants to states

Authorizes the secretary to reserve funds for national activities, outlying areas, the Bureau of Indian Education, and “Project School Emergency Response to Violence,” a program aimed at assisting local schools and institutions of higher education that have been impacted by a violent or traumatic crisis. States will also receive formula grant funds to provide training and technical assistance related to safe and healthy students.

Section 4108 – Authorization of appropriations

Authorizes such sums as necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021.

Section 4003 – 21st Century Community Learning Centers

Reauthorizes the program and allows funds to be used for expanded learning activities.

Section 4004 – Elementary School and Secondary School Counseling Programs

Adds a new part C to reauthorize the Elementary School and Secondary School Counseling Program.

Section 4005 – Physical education program

Adds a new part D to authorize a physical education program. Authorizes grants to local educational agencies and community-based organizations to initiate and expand physical education programs in grades K-12.

Title V – Empowering Parents and Expanding Opportunity through Innovation

Section 5002 – Public Charter Schools

Authorizes the charter school program to support state competition for startup, replication, and expansion of charter schools; assist charter schools in accessing credit to finance acquisition and renovation of facilities; and carry out national activities. Allows for the use of a weighted lottery for student admission if allowed under state law.

Streamlines the Credit Enhancement Initiatives to Assist Charter School Facility Acquisition, Construction and Renovation Program and the Per-Pupil Facilities Aid Programs to improve facilities financing grants.

Authorizes the secretary of education to reserve funds to award grants for the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools. Additional funds will be used by the secretary to disseminate technical assistance and best practices regarding charter schools, evaluate the impact of the charter school program on student achievement, and award grants directly to charter schools from states that did not apply for or receive a grant under the State grant competition.

Requires grant applications to address objectives for implementing a high-quality charter school; intended measures of progress; a description of the educational program and plan for inclusion of all students; a multi-year financial plan; and a sustainability plan for continuation after program funding expires.

Authorize such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021.

Section 5003 – Magnet schools assistance

Requires magnet school programs to assess the impact of activities to improve socioeconomic and racial integration and student achievement. Authorizes such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021.

Section 5004 – Supporting high-ability learners and learning

Reauthorizes the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students program. Authorizes the secretary to award grants or enter into contracts to meet the educational needs of gifted and talented students.

Section 5005 – Education innovation and research

Authorizes a competitive grant program for the development and implementation of evidence-based innovations to improve student achievement for high-need students.

Section 5006 – Accelerated learning

Authorizes an Accelerated Learning Program to award grants to increase participation in Advanced Placement programs, International Baccalaureate programs, dual enrollment programs, and early college high schools providing postsecondary-level instruction or exams that can be accepted for higher education credits.

Section 5008 – Innovative Technology Expands Children’s Horizons (I-TECH)

Authorizes the I-TECH program. Authorizes the secretary to reserve funds for national activities and for grants to states and local educational agencies to strengthen state and local technological infrastructure and professional learning that supports digital learning.

Section 5010 – Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants

Authorizes Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants. The secretary is authorized to award three-year, nonrenewable competitive grants to states to improve coordination, quality, and access for early childhood education.

Title VI – Innovation and Flexibility

Section 6002 – Improving academic achievement

Authorizes a two-year Weighted Student Funding Flexibility Pilot Program to allow up to 25 local educational agencies the flexibility to consolidate federal, state, and local funds to create a single school funding system based on weighted per-pupil allocations. Allows a local educational agency to consolidate funds received under Titles I, II, III, and IV to create a weighted per-pupil allocation funding system provided the local educational agency meets certain requirements.

Section 6003 – Rural education initiative

Increases minimum and maximum grant award amounts if appropriations for Part B reach $252 million. Requires local educational agencies that receive rural funding to administer state assessments. Updates references to activities for which funds may be used.

Title VII – Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native Education

Section 7001 – Indian education

Amends current law to allow the secretary to make grants to consortia of tribes, and to allow local educational agencies to enter into cooperative agreements with Indian tribes under certain circumstances. Allow tribes, tribal organizations, or tribal educational agencies to directly administer education programs under a written agreement. Authorizes such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016-2021.

Section 7002 – Native Hawaiian education

Revises the members of the Native Hawaiian Education Council and authorizes grants to improve educational and related services and programs available to Native Hawaiians.

Section 7003 – Native Alaskan education

Authorizes grants for Indian Tribes and tribal organizations to develop and implement plans, methods, strategies and activities to improve educational outcomes of Alaska Native peoples. Updates allowable uses of funds.

Section 7004 – Native American language immersion schools and programs

Authorizes to secretary to award competitive grants to eligible entities to support schools that use Native American and Alaska Native languages. Authorizes such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2016-2021.

Title VIII – Impact Aid

Section 8003 – Payments relating to federal acquisition of real property

Amends existing law to update and clarify eligibility and the calculation of taxable land.

Section 8004 – Payments for eligible federally connected children

Clarifies “hold harmless” provisions for local educational agencies that receive payments for eligible federally connected children. Streamlines and simplifies eligibility for heavily impacted local educational agencies. Eliminates the maintenance of effort provision.

Section 8010 – Federal administration

Authorizes such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2016 through 2021.

Title IX – General Provisions

Section 9104 – Rural consolidated plan

Allows two or more eligible local educational agencies or educational service agencies to submit a rural consolidated plan for covered programs.

Section 9105 – Waivers of statutory and regulatory requirements

Clarifies submission and application process for waiver requests. Prohibits the secretary from placing any requirements on state educational agencies, local educational agencies, or other entities as a condition of waiver approval that are not otherwise required under the act and directly related to the waiver request. 

Section 9108 – Maintenance of effort

Allows a local educational agency, for one year, flexibility with maintenance of effort requirement without a federal fund reductions.

Section 9110 – Prohibitions on federal government and use of federal funds

Strengthens prohibitions against the federal government from mandating, directing, controlling, incentivizing, or making financial support conditional upon the adoption of specific academic standards or assessments (such as the Common Core State Standards or assessments aligned to such standards), curriculum, program of instruction, or instructional content. Includes prohibitions on the federal endorsement of curriculum, and against federal approval or certification of standards.

Section 9112 – Prohibition on federally sponsored testing

Strengthens prohibition on the development of any federally sponsored national test, including assessments or testing materials aligned with the Common Core standards.

Title X – Education for Homeless Children and Youth

Section 10106 – Authorization of Appropriations

Authorizes such as sums as necessary for fiscal years 2016 through 2021.

Administration Position

The administration has not stated a position on this bill.

Cost

According to the Congressional Budget Office, S. 1177 would authorize the appropriation of $23.9 billion in 2016 and $124.2 billion over the 2016-2020 period. Assuming appropriation of those amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have discretionary costs of $92.1 billion over the 2016-2020 period.

Amendments

The following are possible amendments:

  • Repeal all testing requirements
  • Student Non Discrimination, such as S. 439
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematic programs
  • Early childhood education programs
  • Anti-bullying
  • Disaggregation of student data
  • Promise Neighborhoods
  • Changes to testing frequency such as grade-span testing
  • Amendments related to the Community in Schools program
  • Creation of new programs
  • Amendment to governance, allowing governors to sign off on state plans
  • Changes to teacher certification
  • School Choice, such as Title I portability, Scholarships for Kids Act (S 1968 in the 113th Congress), CHOICE Act (S. 265),
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, such as S. 1341
  • Background checks for school officials
  • Title I formula change
  • Parental opt-out of school testing
  • A-PLUS Act, such as S. 1210 in the 113th Congress
  • Equity in school sports
  • Common Core
  • FIT Kids Act, such as S. 1075