WASHINGTON – The joint House and Senate conference committee tasked with updating the expired No Child Left Behind Act voted to approve a bipartisan framework for a new bill on Thursday.
The committee, which included Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and a group of selected Republicans and Democrats from both chambers, agreed on the legislative framework after holding its first conference committee meeting Wednesday.
“It’s long past time to authorize this law,” Bennet said. “There are teachers and kids all over Colorado and the country working incredibly hard, often under adverse circumstances, trying to teach and trying to learn.”
The conference committee was set up to reconcile the differences between separate bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a federal law which maintains K-12 education standards. No Child Left Behind, the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, expired in 2007.
The committee’s legislative framework would repeal the “adequate yearly progress” system, included in NCLB, which requires schools to meet certain accountability standards set by the Department of Education, and replace it with a statewide system. The agreement also gives states more autonomy in establishing their own academic standards and in identifying and supporting low-performing schools, and includes stronger provisions to help at-risk students through funding and support initiatives.
The agreement also includes an amendment from Bennet that allows states to set a limit on the amount of in-school time devoted to standardized tests.
“This bill eliminates NCLB’s one-size-fits-all approach in education and re-empowers those closest to our children to make decisions,” Bennet said during the committee’s meeting on Wednesday.
[email protected] Edward Graham is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.