NCLB Rewrite Expected To Be Considered in Mid-April

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) have said that the committee is making significant progress toward rewriting No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and expects to have markup legislation for consideration by the middle of next month.

"During the last several weeks we have been working together to build the base for legislation to fix the problems with No Child Left Behind," according to a joint statement from the senators. "We are making significant progress in our negotiations. We are aiming to consider and markup legislation to fix the law during the week of April 13th."

Alexander made rewriting the 13-year-old law a priority for the committee when he took over as chairman early this year.

"No Child Left Behind has become unworkable — and fixing this law, which expired over seven years ago, will be the first item on the agenda for the Senate education committee," Alexander said at the time, while also releasing draft legislation.

Alexander is seeking to reduce the role of the federal government in K-12 education, telling the Washington Post in January, "The Secretary of Education has told states what their standards should be, what tests should be used, how to evaluate teachers, how to intervene in low-performing schools. I want to reverse that."

Testing requirements of No Child Left Behind may be one area of significant change, with Alexander offering two options — one that would maintain the requirement to test annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school and another that would allow local education agencies to decide if students will take the standardized tests.

Murray, whose home state of Washington lost its NCLB waiver nearly a year ago, said she wants to keep the testing requirements, as do Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama, but eliminate tests administered by states and local agencies.

In a statement on the Senate floor early this year, Murray said "we need to work to reduce redundant and unnecessary testing so educators focus on preparing students for college and their career, and also ensures we know how all our students are progressing."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].