Tester votes to replace “No Child Left Behind” and strengthen local control to classrooms

Montana education leaders applaud Tester’s efforts to improve local schools

(U.S. Senate)-Montana’s teacher-turned-Senator Jon Tester today helped pass legislation to replace No Child Left Behind and return control of the classroom back to state and local leaders.

The Every Student Succeeds Act curbs the powers of the Department of Education and eliminates the punishments that were handed out to schools who failed to hit unreasonable national scoring benchmarks. The bill includes Tester’s amendment that pushes the Education Secretary to receive input from local stakeholders, like school boards, before developing new rules.

“This bill relieves students, parents, and teachers from the pressures caused by the failure of No Child Left Behind and puts decision making back in the hands of folks on the ground,” Tester said. “These reforms are not perfect, but they are a step in the right direction to ensuring our kids and grandkids receive the quality education they deserve.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act allows states to create their own performance standards to identify underperforming schools. Test scores will no longer be the primary indicator of whether schools are underperforming, like they were under No Child Left Behind. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states can also choose to consider other important indicators like graduation rates.

Each state will be responsible for tracking the performance of their schools and identifying which schools need additional resources. Schools will be eligible for additional support and resources if they are performing in the bottom five percent of schools in their state, or their graduation rate is lower than 67 percent.

Upon passage of the bill, Tester pledged to continue his fight to replace the federal annual testing requirement and replace it with fewer tests.

Montana’s education leaders applauded the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and Tester’s efforts to reduce the education burdens on Montana’s schools.

“We are grateful Senator Tester has been a leader in the now, finally, long-overdue, successful reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We believe the Every Student Succeeds Act which replaces the overreaching, federally oriented, No Child Left Behind Act will restore balance to how we here on the ground in Montana govern, administer, and teach in our excellent public schools,” said MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver.

“We really appreciate Senator Tester’s advocacy on behalf of Montana’s school districts, including his sponsorship of an important amendment that remains in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which returns more flexibility to states and local districts in key areas of testing and accountability. He worked to make the bill better for Montana. Senator Tester understands how important it is to empower local communities in determining what is best for their public school students,” said Lance Melton, Executive Director of the Montana School Board Association.

“School Administrators of Montana is pleased with the Senate passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Reauthorization is crucial to providing Montana’s schools with relief from the current law, No Child Left Behind. The Every Student Succeeds Act is a strong step in the right direction because it restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education, taking the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription and placing it more squarely in the area of state and local expertise and autonomy. The Every Student Succeeds Act recognizes the importance of empowering state and local Montana leaders to use their professional knowledge and local control to make the decisions necessary to successfully provide a great education for our children. Thanks Senator Tester for being a champion of the effort to reauthorize. This is important for Montana and Montana’s children so we are thankful for the vote to move this bill on to the President,” said Kirk Miller, President of the School Administrators of Montana.

“NSBA applauds lawmakers in the House and Senate for their commitment to passing a modernized law that preserves important federal cornerstones, such as equity and excellence, while establishing a ‘new federalism’ in education policy – upholding local governance and creating a new federal-state-local partnership to ensure that states and local school board members are better positioned to provide all students with a world class public education,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association.