The U.S. Senate has passed the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with a bipartisan 81-to-17 vote. The bill effectively ends No Child Left Behind policies requiring annual updates and multiple measures for evaluating student success. Senators amended the act to require schools to tell parents about “opt out” policies for standardized tests, and set a cap on time spent on tests.
Every Child Achieves maintains the formula that targets funding for children from low-income families but eliminates “portability” (which diverted resources away from low-income districts). Under ECAA, the Title I formula will change to place greater emphasis on income and less on population, which will allow focus on both rural and higher populated areas.
Every Child Achieves creates Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants for states to improve coordination, quality and access for early childhood education. These grants will help ensure federal and state dollars efficiently target resources to at-risk families, increase quality and expand availability of early learning centers and child care, and prioritize funding to improve quality and access in rural areas. The grants lay out a pathway for early learning education beginning at birth rather than when a child enters preschool at age 4. ECAA also expands the federal charter school program to allow for early childhood programs.
Focus on Quality
Nebraskans know that solid early childhood investment provides children the level of learning and care that actually reduces the achievement gap. All of the early childhood components of the ECAA are set forth from a focus on quality, which is a good thing. ECAA will help strengthen Nebraska’s existing efforts by allowing states the discretion to determine how to improve and strengthen high-quality early childhood care and education. While the bill raises some adequate funding concerns—the focus on quality in early childhood education is one we hope will stay on the bipartisan agenda when ECAA goes to conference.
The true test for the Every Child Achieves Act will come this fall when the House votes on its version of the bill, the Student Success Act. Negotiations of both bills in conference will be broadcast on C-SPAN.
Photo: Architect of the Capitol
Let’s do this!!