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Alexander: States Continue To Innovate As They Implement Law Fixing No Child Left Behind

Reads words of Memphis teacher who says the new law “empowers Tennessee”

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 25, 2018 — Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said students would benefit from the law fixing No Child Left Behind because “states are back in the driver’s seat for decisions on how to help their students.”

Alexander said, “Candace Hines, a kindergarten teacher in Memphis, recently wrote in the Memphis Commercial Appeal: ‘This year, Tennessee schools will begin to implement our state’s new education plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Unlike the previous federal education law, No Child Left Behind, ESSA gives Tennessee more autonomy to design policies to meet the needs of our state’s students. ESSA empowers Tennessee with the responsibility to decide how to close achievement gaps, improve schools and make sure that all our children succeed.’”

“Reaching the point of fixing No Child Left Behind took seven years of Congressional efforts, 27 hearings, and a three day markup where this Committee considered 57 amendments,” Alexander continued. “The consensus this Committee reached was:  Continue the law’s important measurements of academic progress of students but restore to states what to do about that progress. The Every Student Succeeds Act gave Tennessee, in Candace’s words, ‘a real opportunity for our state to build on the progress we’ve made and enact change, particularly in traditionally-underserved communities.’”

Alexander made his remarks today at a Senate education committee hearing focused on the state perspective on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Alexander continued: “Today, we will hear specifically from three states who have also taken advantage of the flexibility we encouraged under the law to design innovative plans.  For example, South Carolina is using flexibility provided under ESSA to use some of their Title 1 money to fund programs for high school students to take dual-credit classes or for students to receive extra math or reading help at afterschool programs. 

 “Nebraska’s ESSA plan included a statewide database so teachers can access best practices, share information with each other, and work together. And Delaware’s accountability system includes a College and Career Preparedness indicator which will measure the percentage of high school students who have successfully taken advanced classes or had technical skills training that will prepare them for success after graduation.”

The Senate education committee unanimously passed the legislation to fix No Child Left Behind in April 2015. In December 2015, ESSA was passed by Congress and signed into law. Alexander was the lead Republican sponsor. ESSA ends federal interference in state standards and ends the federal mandates on states to adopt the Common Core State Standards.

See Alexander’s full prepared remarks here.