ESEA Agreement Reached - ITECH Makes It! - Finish Line In Sight

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It’s been an historic week for education. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) passed its conference committee today on a bipartisan basis! No ESEA reauthorization has gone this far since No Child Left Behind in 2001. The bill still has three more hurdles to go (House vote, Senate vote, and the President’s signature) before becoming law, but it is widely expected to make to the finish line before the end of the calendar year! This means BIG changes are in store for the next school year and stability on the horizon for schools for next few (4) years!

Last week, the House and Senate committees came to an agreement on a “framework” for reauthorizing ESEA which would marry the two dueling proposals, the Student Success Act (HR 5) and the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177). Several amendments to the framework were made by the official conference committee before they passed the conference report. The final report will be released next week.

Though not yet released, SIIA has received word that the student privacy commission included in the Senate bill and supported by SIIA and education stakeholders was not included. The ITECH program, also supported by SIIA, was included but moved into a larger, flexible $500M block grant as an allowable use of funds. This almost guarantees some level of funding for the program though it would still be on the state and local districts to utilize it for such purposes over other allowable uses.

summary of the original framework released by the conference committee notes the legislation:

  • Repeals adequate yearly progress
  • Maintains requirements on annual assessments and disaggregation of data. Gives flexibility for locally developed and innovative assessment pilots.
  • Requires states to identify their 5% lowest performing schools and to provide support and intervention. Prohibits Ed Secretary from prescribing such interventions
  • Maintains maintenance of effort and supplement not supplant language for funding

Notable amendments to the framework include:

  1. Messer: Will allow Title II funds to be used for professional development for teachers on data privacy issues
  2. Bennet: Permits states to cap the aggregate time spent on assessments in comparison to time spent on instruction
  3. Wilson: Expands use of Title IV funds for establishment and improvement of drop-out prevention and reentry programs for most at-risk students

SIIA will be putting together a preliminary fact sheet when the final conference report is passed. When the legislation is signed into law, we will put together an in-depth summary and analysis of changes impacting the education sector.