Recommendations for Improving Federal Law – January 2015
The Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA) calls on Congress to make major changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently “No Child Left Behind” or NCLB).[i] To strengthen public schools, improve learning, and enhance equity, FEA has drafted legislative language on assessment, accountability, and school improvement. It is summarized below and available here.
- Reduce mandated annual statewide testing to only one grade each in grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-11.
- Fund development of instructionally-supportive student assessment systems that include performance assessments and classroom-based evidence, some of which could be used for public reporting.
- Require states to use multiple types of evidence, such as tests, projects, and portfolios, to evaluate students as well as for reporting and accountability.
- Ensure that new assessments reflect the needs of diverse learners. Use universal design for learning.
- Allow parents to opt their children out of federally-mandated tests.
- Eliminate “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) requirements and sanctions.
- Continue to require reporting relevant student data disaggregated by demographic group.
- Require reporting on school resources, including buildings and materials; best practices implemented, including “essential elements” identified below; and student outcomes including assessments and graduation rates.
- Evaluate schools on these factors, use for improvement.
- Do not require the use of student standardized test scores in educator evaluations.
On public school improvement/capacity building:
- For schools identified as being in difficulty, (currently, “priority” and “focus” schools), district conducts needs analysis to identify problems, then develops improvement plan tailored to needs. State approves plan, monitors implementation, and intervenes in schools that fail to improve.
- Implement essential elements shown effective in significantly improving schools. Include enhancing resources, leadership, instruction, educator collaboration, curriculum, climate and discipline, family and community engagement, wrap-around and in-school services, and support for parents to help students’ learning at home.
- Provide special Title I funding for improving priority schools and to strengthen states’ abilities to support systemic school improvement.
[i] FEA is an alliance furthering the concepts found in the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB, signed by 156 national organizations. This document may not reflect all individual positions taken by signatories to the Joint Statement. Additional relevant materials, including more details on our recommendations, are on the FEA website.