Strengthening Our Children’s Futures

Principles to guide the reauthorization of federal education policy.

Principles To Guide The Reauthorization Of Federal Education Policy

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) into law to ensure all kids, no matter their family’s income level, zip code, or background, receive an education that gives them an opportunity for success. Since then the legislation has gone through changes, but at its core it maintained a federal role in education that focuses on promoting equity and ensuring that disadvantaged students receive the resources needed for a quality education.

The latest version of the ESEA, more commonly known as No Child Left Behind, has been long overdue for reauthorization, and it looks like this year Congress may actually take action. There is no question that NCLB is outdated and broken, but it must be changed in a way that puts students first. In that light, the Center for American Progress has joined with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to highlight key principles that should be included in the new version of the law.

Far from outlining a complete set of recommendations for the reauthorization of this critical legislation, these share principles are rather a statement of what good education policy should be in some of the core — and controversial — areas of debate. They are intended to encourage Congress to work together on a bipartisan basis to improve the legislation. And the hope is that, with these shared principles in mind, new federal policy will ensure that all students — and especially those who have traditionally been the most disadvantaged — are prepared to compete in a global economy.

Below is a summary of the shared principles that CAP and AFT have released, and click here to check out the full statement.

  • Address funding inequities to improve teaching and learning;
  • Give parents and communities useful information about whether students are working at grade level or are struggling, and allow teachers to diagnose and help their students. This means maintaining the federal requirement for annual statewide testing in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school;
  • Disaggregate assessment results by subgroups, including race and income level, and use these assessment results to identify where learning gaps exist;
  • Provide a system of multiple measures for accountability and relieve some of the unintended pressure of tests on students;
  • Design accountability systems intended to identify and target interventions for schools with large achievement gaps or large numbers of low-performing disadvantaged kids;
  • Raise the bar for entry to and through the teacher pipeline including at least doubling the investments for states and districts to elevate the teaching profession and support educators.

BOTTOM LINE: The goal of federal education policy should be to prepare future generations for success and ensure that disadvantaged students have access to the resources they need. With the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind under consideration, now is a critical time to make necessary changes to strengthen our education system. These shared principles should serve as a guide to doing so — our children deserve no less.

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