By Katerina Pappas
On February 25th, The House Committee on Education and the Workforce conducted a hearing concerning the implementation of The Every Student Succeeds Act.
President Obama signed The Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA) on December 10th, 2015, which replaces No Child Left Behind. The act works to achieve an educational foundation for every child in the U.S., regardless of his or her background. The No Child Left Behind act left little to the state and fixated on testing as a measure of success.
The conversation revolved around how ESSA should be implemented, specifically what should be left up to the state and what should be left up to the federal government.
Dr. John B. King, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, testified at “Next steps of K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act” last Thursday.
“Education is the path to opportunity and is the heart of the American dream,” King said. “We want to make sure this dream is accessible for all children.”
According to King, ESSA is imperative in working towards the interests and needs of low-income students in the ways No Child Left Behind could not.
“The interests and needs of low income students have been under attended to,” King said. “Too many cases where African American students and Latino students haven’t had opportunities.”
With a good education system, King said that low-income students could have more opportunities. King said states need to recognize their own models of education and then report back to the Federal Government with their work, keeping in mind the difference between students throughout the country. With more state power, schools are able to take liberties in creating rich arts curriculums and try different testing methods than in No Child Left Behind.
Committee Member Thomson agrees that the No Child Left Behind model of testing was ineffective. Thomson said that the testing lead to more tests in preparation, a high stakes atmosphere for the students and an air of anxiety. For ESSA to be successfully implemented, said Johnson, testing shouldn’t be a main priority—realizing that testing scores don’t equate intelligence in every case.
ESSA does away with this “one size fits all” approach to testing, finding students intelligence and creativity in other ways. Thomson said that ESSA allows states to allocate tests when they believe they are necessary in education.
While state implementation of rules and regulations in ESSA is important, the federal government still has some important roles in the act, as well. The federal governments job is to educate states on Advanced Placement classes’ and foster Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) education in public schools.
“If you can’t take chemistry and physics you won’t be prepared for advanced STEM courses in college,” said King.
Through the conversation during the hearing, it was clear that King believes that ESSA will have positive ramifications on the education system in the United States with involvement from both the state and the federal government.