Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, introduced a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Under the bill, each state would be required to adopt “college and career ready” standards in reading, math, and science that would allow students to take courses at a public college without needing remedial coursework. Gone would be the requirement that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.
The Senate bill would allow states to design their own accountability systems, and measure student growth in addition to meeting a specific proficiency standard. The accountability system would identify chronically struggling schools – the bottom 5% – and another 10% with the largest achievement gaps among subgroups of students, including students with disabilities, for intervention. A new competitive grant program would target schools with very high dropout rates. The bill emphasizes rewarding good principals and teachers and would allow states to design their own personnel evaluation systems. The HELP committee will begin marking up the legislation on October 18 and Chairman Harkin hopes to have the bill on the Senate floor before Thanksgiving. For more information and to see a copy of the proposed Senate bill, see this link.