Senate Plan to Revise No Child Left Behind Law Would Not Measure Teachers by Test Scores

Tamar Lewin and Motoko Rich, New York Times, April 7, 2015

A bipartisan Senate bill revising the No Child Left Behind law, and eliminating many of its most punitive elements, was announced on Tuesday.

The bill retains the requirement for yearly tests in math and reading for every student in third through eighth grade, and once in high school, and requires that the scores, broken down by race and income, be made public.

But it ends the framework under which almost all public schools were found to be failing, and could defuse what has become an all-out campaign by teachers, joined by many parents, to prevent having their job performances measured by students’ test scores.

The proposed legislation was negotiated by Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington. Earlier this year, a House bill was abruptly pulled, mid-debate, when it became clear that it would not muster enough Republican support to pass.

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Opposition to standardized testing has boiled over in recent years as the Obama administration used financial incentives and relief from the most onerous provisions of the No Child Left Behind law to require that states tether teachers’ job performance ratings to student test scores. The new Senate bill makes clear that states are not required to formally evaluate teachers or to use test scores if they do.

Also, under the proposal, the federal government would no longer prescribe how the states must handle schools with continuously poor scores.

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