The Senate HELP Committee Voted to Approve the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013

The Health, Education Labor and Pensions committee voted along party lines to approve the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, S.1094, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). S.1094 is in line with the CCD Principles on reauthorization.

The bill has the support of all 11 Democratic Members of the HELP Committee, although no Republican supporters. The bill would strengthen accountability for subgroups of students, including those with disabilities, in the areas of academic growth and achievement and graduation from high school ready for college or a career. It would allow the 37 states that have waivers to continue using them. States could count 1% of students with significant cognitive disabilities to be tested on alternate standards. If schools miss their goals for subgroups, there would have to be some type of intervention from the state.

Ranking Member of the HELP committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has also introduced a bill called Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, S.1101. It tracks closely with a draft bill by Congressman John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which would eliminate federal accountability systems in favor of state standards. Both plans would also block grant most federal education spending in order to increase state and local flexibility and allow much broader use of alternate and modified achievement standards for students with disabilities. The House plans to consider its version of ESEA reauthorization this summer.