State legislatures across the U.S. are beginning to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. The new policies will be enacted in public schools by the states over the coming year, and debate about the pros and cons of the act has already begun.
Kelley King, associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education at the University of North Texas, said the question of whether the new act will be an improvement over its predecessor is still up in the air.
King is available for commentary and analysis of the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Her email address is email@example.com.
King said, at this point, it's not known if the 1,000 page Every Student Succeeds Act will benefit more students than No Child Left Behind.
"The Department of Education will have to come up with policy based on it," said King. "So we don't know what the fallout is going to be. Depending on what the states do, it looks like there could be some good that comes out of it, but one does expect some advantages and disadvantages out of a law like this."
King said funding will increase for schools – an addition of approximately $15.8 billion – without being closely tied to educational outcomes. While No Child Left Behind and the Obama administration's Race to the Top imposed rules on schools based on testing results, the Every Student Succeeds Act will let states decide how schools are to be run.
"Some of the more difficult parts of No Child Left Behind have been removed," said King. "The requirement that schools be shut down if they don't test well is gone. The focus has shifted to doing interventions with low-performing schools rather than closing them down. Testing remains, but the intention is to shift away from a focus on testing and put more attention on teaching."
Under the new rules, students in grades 3-8 will be tested in reading and math; they will also be tested in those areas once during high school. Science will be tested once in grades 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.
"One possible problem is that it's hard to predict how states will react to getting more control over schools," said King. "Teacher education problems are now the state's responsibility. They'll determine who meets the requirements as a highly qualified teacher. It opens the door for states to lower standards.
"The bigger concern is the move toward so-called 'entrepreneurial education,'" King said. "This allows for-profit schools to come in and receive public funding without being held to the same standards."