House of Reps Set to Vote on NCLB Bill Today: Updated December 3, 2015

December 3, 2015 Update

The House of Representatives voted 369 to 64 late on Wednesday, December 2, to approve the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law which will replace the No Child Left Behind Act. The bill now goes to the Senate for their approval as soon as next week, then to the President by year end for his signature.


text-based image reading "New NCLB Bill is Heading to the Finish Line'

On Monday, November 30, House and Senate education committee leaders released the final legislative language of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the bipartisan bill that will replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

This legislation is scheduled to go to the House floor for final consideration this afternoon (Dec. 2) , then to the Senate for a final vote next week. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law by year end. NSTA has endorsed the bill (read the press release here), as have many other groups, including the National Governors Association.

Two key highlights of interest from the bill: The new bill eliminates the NCLB highly qualified teacher requirement. States are no longer required by the federal government to do teacher evaluations using student outcomes (although they could elect to do this). A $1.6 billion block grant (Title II) consolidates a number of programs, including the Math and Science Partnership program. However, there are funding opportunities for STEM teacher professional development, leadership training, grants for performance pay and differential pay, and alternative cert programs throughout the bill available to both states and districts.

Links to articles and the text of the legislation, and a longer synopsis of the STEM initiatives in the Every Student Succeeds Act are below. More to come in the weeks ahead as this legislation FINALLY moves to the finish line.

STEM Education in Every Student Succeeds Act

Standards and Assessments (Title I)

  • Standards Required in Math and Science: States will continue to be required to maintain standards in math and science that are aligned with entrance requirements in higher education. (Sec. 1005 State Plans)
  • Math and Science Testing is Retained: Science tests will continue and must be given three times between grades 3 and 12. Statewide assessments of math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school will be required. (Sec. 1005 State Plans)
  • Integration of Engineering and Technology into Science Assessments: States are permitted to use a portion of federal funding provided to support the development of statewide assessments to integrate concepts related to engineering and technology into the states science assessments. (Sec. 1201 State Assessment Grants)

Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers and School Leaders (Title II)

  • Support for Alternative Certification of STEM Educators: Allows states to establish, expand, or improve alternative routes for State certification of teachers in STEM subjects. (Sec. 2101 Formula Grants to States)
  • State Teacher Quality Block Grants Support STEM Professional Development: Professional development for STEM-specific activities is an allowable use of funds under the Title II state block grants program to every state. Provides new authority to allow states and districts to develop and provide professional development and other comprehensive systems of support for teachers, principals, or other school leaders to promote high-quality instruction and instructional leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects, including computer science. (Sec. 2101 Formula Grants to States, Sec. 2103 Local Uses of Funds)
  • Establishes Differential Pay for STEM Teachers: Allows states and districts to provide differential pay, or other incentives, to recruit and retain teachers in high need academic subjects (such as math and science). (Sec. 2103 Local Uses of Funds)
  • Strengthens Career and Technical Education that Meets Workforce Needs: Supports professional development for teachers, principals, or other school leaders to integrate career and technical education content into their instructional practices, which may include training on best practices to understand State and regional workforce needs and transitions to postsecondary education and the workforce to help prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce. (Sec. 2103 Local Uses of Funds)
  • National Activities Funds Authorized for STEM Master Teacher Corps and STEM Professional Development: Provides the Secretary with a new authority to use a portion of the funding devoted to “national activities” under Title II of the bill to conduct an annual competitive grant program for the states to develop a STEM Master Teacher Corps or to provide professional development for STEM teachers. (Sec. 2245 STEM Master Teacher Corps)

Educating Well Rounded Students (Title IV)

  • Creates a New Definition for STEM Specialty Schools: The bill establishes the definition of a STEM-Specialty School as a school, or dedicated program within a school, that engages students in rigorous, relevant, and integrated learning experiences focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including computer science, which include authentic school wide research. (Sec. 4101 Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants)
  • Title IV “21st Century Schools” Grant STEM Activities: The Title IV formula grant program would provide funding to support both state and district level educational enrichment activities for students. Districts receiving more than $30,000 in federal funds would be required to spend at least 20 percent of their funding on “well-rounded” educational activities that include a focus on improving instruction and student engagement in STEM by expanding high-quality STEM courses; increasing access to STEM for under-served and at-risk student populations; supporting the participation of students in STEM nonprofit competitions (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions); providing hands-on learning opportunities in STEM; integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM subject programs; creating or enhancing STEM specialty schools; integrating classroom based and after school and informal STEM instruction; and expanding environmental education. (Sec. 4104 State Uses of Funds and Sec 4107 Activities to Support Well Rounded Educational Activities)
  • Professional Development in Technology for STEM teachers. Title IV Grants to districts to improve the use of technology to improve the academic achievement of students. Districts receiving $30,000 or more must spend a portion of their funds on allowable uses including professional development in the use of technology (which may be provided through partnerships with outside organizations) to enable teachers and instructional leaders to increase student achievement in the areas of STEM. (Sec. 4109, Activities to Support the Effective Use of Technology)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Computer Science Including in “Core-Academic Subjects” Definition: The original NCLB construct of “core-academic subjects” is re
    tained under the new ESEA bill, but is now called “well-rounded subjects.”  This definition is referenced throughout the bill to drive various aspects of accountability and data-collection required of the states. (Sec. 8002 Definitions)

Read the bill here.

Read the ED Week article on the bill here.

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; follow her on Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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