A Senate education committee voted on Thursday 15-7 to give more power back to individual states in how the nation’s public schools are run, in turn, drastically reducing the federal government’s role in an attempt to revamp the controversial No Child Left Behind law.
The updated version of the No Child Left Behind law will, in addition to cutting back on how big a role the federal government plays in the country’s nearly 100,000 public schools, lessen proficiency standards, a move that will likely cause backlash from civil rights leaders, the business community, and Republicans.
The legislation was updated jointly by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin and Republican Senator Michael Enzi. If the changes pass, the federal government will only oversee the turnaround of five percent of schools deemed the worst in the country. That means 95 percent of public schools will be overseen by the states themselves.
Changes to the law would include eliminating the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which determines whether a school district is passing or failing based on standardized test scores. The stringent requirements of the AYP have resulted in cheating scandals in many parts of the country, including Georgia, Connecticut, and Washington D.C.
In addition, the federal government would only intervene in trying to turn around schools that are performing at the lowest levels by planning interventions partially in accordance to the School Improvement Grant Program.
The law will, however, keep the requirement that students undergo standardized testing while in third through eighth grade and at one time during their high school years.
Harkin recently told Time Magazine that, despite the opposition he may face in Washington, he will continue to fight for the changes to the No Child Left Behind law.
“We can’t just invest in the status quo. We have to invest in a very different vision of what education can and should be and make these two things work hand-in-hand together. To take a step back on reform doesn’t make any sense to me,” he told the publication.