Fourteen years after it was first signed into law and seven years after it expired, the U.S. Senate passed legislation on Thursday, July 16 to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act–commonly known as No Child Left Behind–by a vote of 81 to 17.
The Every Child Achieves Act, the bipartisan agreement by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), contains a significant program for STEM education and retains the requirement that states continue testing in math and science. Overall the bill reduces the role of the federal government and gives states the flexibility not found under No Child Left Behind.
Next up is work on the final House-Senate conference agreement, as education leaders work to find a compromise between many of the differing issues/ policies (greater accountability, students opting out of testing, Title I portability) in the two bills and produce a final bill acceptable to their respective caucuses and to the White House. Chairman Alexander is quoted as saying he would like to get a bill to the president this fall.
STEM advocates are gearing up now to ensure that the final bill will retain the Senate’s strong STEM focus. Watch for upcoming issues of NSTA Express and special NSTA Legislative Alerts to find out how you can help ensure STEM education remains a priority in the final federal education law.
- Read the Education Week blog on passage of Every Child Achieves Act.
- Read the Senate press release on passage of the bill.
- Read the AP article on the bill.
Jodi Peterson is Assistant Executive Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. e-mail Jodi at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow her on Twitter at @stemedadvocate.
The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.