Education

New Data Needed Despite Survey of Early Childhood Spending Across the U.S.

August 6, 2013
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This post originally appeared on our sister blog, Early Ed Watch.

States invested slightly more money into early childhood education in 2013 compared to 2012, according to a new survey of 21 states from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). That’s a reassuring trend, given that most states are still treading water after the financial recession. But it may not be the whole story.

NCSL’s survey looks at 21 regionally, politically, and financially diverse states. Twelve of them increased funding for child care in fiscal year 2013 (one, Ohio, did not provide information); 10 increased funding for pre-K (one, Illinois, didn’t respond and two, Arizona and Mississippi, don’t have state pre-K programs); and 14 increased funding for home visiting programs. Thirteen states also increased funding for other early childhood efforts, though Ohio and Georgia didn’t offer any further information beyond those categories.

The increased funding for state pre-kindergarten is especially encouraging, given that the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) published an updated State of Preschool report last year showing an “unprecedented funding drop” in pre-K spending. It wasn’t all good news: Minnesota decreased pre-K spending by almost 12 percent, and Colorado’s 3 percent decline in spending adds to an ongoing three-year trend. Still, New Mexico reversed its own three-year trend with a 33 percent increase in funding.

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According to the report, child care funding stabilized over the past year, too. Prior NCSL surveys from fiscal year 2010 to 2012 found that 17 of 21 states made severe cuts to child care funding. This year, 12 increased funding, and only 7 cut spending on child care. This year’s increases came in spite of a slight decline in federal child care spending, so many of the increases came from: 1) increased state spending or 2) redirecting federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars to child care subsidies.

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Home visiting increases were significant, too, totaling nearly $50 million across these 21 states in 2013. But most of the increase in that category was driven by an increase in the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV provided more money to states in 2013 ahead of its scheduled end in fiscal year 2014, though President Obama’s 2014 budget request included an extension and more funding for the program through 2025.

Unfortunately, the survey sheds no light on the effects of this year’s across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as sequestration. The report is based on a December 2012 survey of states – a full three months before sequestration was implemented in March 2013, and only three months into the 2013 federal fiscal year.

To date, there is limited information available from the White House or agencies about the systemic effects of the cuts – but it almost certainly led to declines in funding for most, if not all, of these states. It’s likely that even increases in state funding may not have been adequate to maintain their early childhood funding benchmarks for many states, especially given increasing costs in other sectors like health care. The sequester cut federal Head Start spending, home visiting funds, and the appropriations-funded portion of child care mid-year.

And this isn’t all. There are additional federal spending cuts scheduled for next year, thanks to the same law that put in place sequestration, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). With states still struggling to recoup their recession-era revenue shortfalls, the additional $18 billion cuts to all discretionary spending mandated by the BCA next year will leave Congress with some tough choices (or with more across-the-board cuts).

For these reasons (and others), we at Ed Money Watch are looking forward to next year’s NCSL survey. It may offer the first clear picture of how budget battles on Capitol Hill are affecting the United States’ youngest children.

New Data Needed Despite Survey of Early Childhood Spending Across the U.S.

August 6, 2013
Publication Image

This post also appeared on our sister blog, Ed Money Watch.

States invested slightly more money into early childhood education in 2013 compared to 2012, according to a new survey of 21 states from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). That’s a reassuring trend, given that most states are still treading water after the financial recession. But it may not be the whole story.

The Way We Talk: Accountability

August 5, 2013
The Way We Talk

This is the second in a series of posts reflecting on terminology pervading today’s polarizing debates about American education. In each post, we ask how various buzzwords—“professionalism,” “accountability,” and the like—influence the conversations we have. What are the strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots that come with framing our arguments in each of these terms? The hope is that assessing the implications of the way we talk will prompt more productive discussions about improving PreK-12 education.

 

I. Holding ourselves to account

Last week, I wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of approaching education policy in terms of professionalism. This week, we’ll take a look at accountability, the regnant ideal guiding most education reformers today. Indeed, the last two presidents have made it the cornerstone of their education agendas.

Georgetown LRAP: In Their Own Words

August 8, 2013

In a blog post published on Higher Ed Watch today we describe how a loophole in two federal programs – Grad PLUS loans and Income Based Repayment for federal student loans – allows graduate and professional schools, and the students who attend them, to shift the entire cost of an advanced degree onto U.S. taxpayers. Our analysis focuses particularly on a program that Georgetown Law has set up to exploit this loophole. The school’s program, called Loan Assistance Repayment Program (LRAP), promises Georgetown Law graduates a free legal education so long as they borrow federal Grad PLUS loans to finance it and then use Income Based Repayment (or the Pay As You Earn, PAYE) to repay.

Our blog post on Higher Ed Watch has more of details on how that works. But the short explanation is that the school promises to make graduates’ loan payments if they use Income Based Repayment or PAYE because those programs limit loan payments and offer unlimited loan forgiveness after 10 or 20 years of payments. Conveniently enough, the federal government will lend graduate and professional students whatever a school charges, plus living expenses. Schools therefore can charge students for the cost of running their own loan repayment program and students take out federal loans to pay for it, but the federal government will ultimately forgive all of the loans. We estimate that the average amount a Georgetown Law grad stands to have forgiven is $158,888.

In our research on the Georgetown Law LRAP program we stumbled upon an informational seminar that the school posted on its website. Two Georgetown Law employees, Danae Newman, the director of financial aid and Charles Pruett, the assistant dean for financial aid, explain LRAP to students in a question and answer session. The presentation offers a shocking view into how one of the country’s most elite and expensive law schools exploits a loophole in federal law to maximize the amount of loan forgiveness that its students receive. We have excerpted key segments below and included a brief analysis for each segment.

Who Pays for LRAP?

Transcript

Question from the audience: Assuming that people are covered under Georgetown's LRAP, isn't the incentive still to use IBR, because were people to use qualifying employment (inaudible) enter the private sector presumably would not be as high under IBR as more payments would have been made. So what is our incentive, assuming that we'll be covered by LRAP (inaudible)?

Danae Newman: (Answers by talking about commitment to public service and how it lowers a monthly payment and says) It's also cheaper for us as well.

Student who asked question: … So it's easier for Georgetown to cover more people.

Danae Newman: Correct. Absolutely, yeah.

Charles Pruett: The big thing is that it's not really Georgetown, it's you guys because LRAP is primarily funded through tuition. 

Explanation

The student asks a technical question about the differences between the federal government’s loan repayment programs and how they interact with LRAP. But the important part of this segment is in the response that Charles Pruett offers. He acknowledges nearly all of LRAP is paid through tuition—or, in other words, the program is financed by students themselves. That means students can borrow federal student loans to pay for tuition, which includes the cost of repaying their own student loans, and then all of those loans are forgiven by the federal government.  

How Much Should I Borrow...

 (This clip is a compilation from two different parts of the session. We combined them because we believe they are relevant to each other.)

Transcript

Question from the Audience: Do you recommend borrowing 100 percent of the loans you’re eligible for each year?

Danae Newman: While you’re going to school? There’s a mixed review on that. I always say borrow what you need. Obviously if you borrow 100 percent and you don’t really need it, you know that if you’re all about going into public interest and that’s your life and that’s what you want to do for the next ten years, you know that that’s your commitment and you’re on that track then obviously all that money will be forgiven after you the 120… but I’m very conservative when it comes to that kind of stuff because you just never know what’s going to happen, so if you borrow all this money, you’re in public interest for five years, all that interest is accruing, and if you don’t stay in public service then you have a lot longer of a payment to make, you’ll still be in Income Based Repayment, that’s for anybody.

(Segment from a different part of the video)

Charles Pruett: To put another point on the Pay As You Earn scenario, it's actually so powerful that it is something that our students who are going into large firms could use see a decrease in their monthly. And so if you left to go private, and you stayed in ICR because that’s your eligibility you would have a 20-year forgiveness… (He goes on to explain that if you left after 9 years and stayed in PAYE you never would pay it off even under twenty years).[PAYE] is almost too strong… it helps people who aren't really the intended beneficiary. And so that’s, you know, would it really hurt you one way or another? Probably not would be the answer"

Explanation

While Danae Newman warns students that even though they can use LRAP and IBR or PAYE, they shouldn’t necessarily borrow more than they need, Pruett undercuts that advice. He says PAYE is so generous, it "helps people who aren't really the intended beneficiary" so even students who plan to eventually earn $160,000 can make their decisions about how much to borrow knowing some of their debt will be forgiven. In case the student’s didn’t get the message, the next segment features a current LRAP beneficiary to offer further advice. 

... If I Can Ignore My Debt

Transcript

Current LRAP Beneficiary: Can you live on a public interest salary? I don't know. Pretty much, I mean those are different numbers, depends on what sort of job you take but pretty much you get to look at the salary they're offering you and you get to ignore the fact that you have, you know, six digits of loans. 

Explanation

This student is acknowledging that the amount in federal student loans she took out has no bearing on the type of job she will take or how much she intends to earn. If you enter public service, the amount that Georgetown Law charges, and the amount you borrow, is irrelevant. The LRAP participant’s comment about “six digits of loans” also lends credence to our estimate that the typical participant stands to walk away from $159,000 in debt, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.

Don’t Prepay, That’s A Waste of Money

Transcript

Charles Pruett: If I get the lump sum payment (from Georgetown) do I pay all of my loans at once? 

Danae: No! No! You have 120 on-time scheduled payments. When you receive that disbursement from us, make sure you're paying every single month because you have to show that you made 120 on-time scheduled payments. So every time you make that payment, it counts as one credit. You get 120 credits, that's when your loan, is then, you can apply for forgiveness, so do not make a lump sum payment on those loans. Don't prepay them, that's a waste of money. Just, each month make sure you make those payments out of that disbursement that we give to you.

Explanation

When Newman says "don't prepay them, that's a waste of money," she's right. Why prepay a loan that is going to be forgiven?

Shelter Income to Boost Loan Forgiveness

Transcript

Charles Pruett: The program [Income Based Repayment and PAYE] actually encourages you to make very positive changes [to how you take your annual income]. So if you want to keep your adjusted gross income (AGI) as low as possible, if you get a raise of three thousand dollars, by all means put that entire three thousand dollars towards your retirement and you will not see your AGI increase, you won't see your payments increase and so as you get raises as you get closer to the threshold  please, please, please, don’t make it an adjusted gross income choice, keep that out of your adjusted gross income, put more and more and more money into your retirement.

Explanation

A borrower’s payment under IBR and PAYE is based on her adjusted gross income, which is likely less than her total income (i.e., salary, wages, tips, etc.) because she can contribute to pre-tax fringe benefits (retirement contributions, health insurance premiums, dependent care accounts, transit and parking benefits, etc.) and take above-the-line deductions—even for paying interest on their student loans! The distinction between total income and AGI is important because even a borrower whose AGI is only slightly below her total income will make significantly lower monthly payments under IBR and PAYE, thereby increasing the amount of unpaid principal and interest that will be forgiven by the federal government.

In the video, Charles Pruett is explaining that detail to the students. If they want to lower their monthly payments and increase the amount of debt the government forgives, they can shelter more of their income from their AGI. In a series of bulletins Georgetown also provides students with other helpful tips, such as the benefits of filing a separate tax return from your spouse so that loan payments aren’t calculated off household income, and why borrowers can and should delay notifying the U.S. Department of Education of any increases in their incomes.

To be sure, these practices are legal. But they show how lawmakers have created a federal program that is far more generous than many understand it to be. And yes, students and schools are figuring it out and taking full advantage of it.  

Will Congress Wake Up to What They've Done?

Transcript

Question from the audience: Since no one’s actually had there loans forgiven by the federal government [yet], what happens in 2017 when (inaudible)

Second audience member: Then they’ll stop. (Laughter)

Charles Pruett: Well, by that point, there’ll be tens of thousands of attorneys making sure that there’s some kind of (crosstalk—someone says “grandfathering in”). No one is expecting that it’s [federal loan forgiveness under IBR and PAYE] going to be derailed for current participants. My concern is that the class that’s going to be entering in 2017 and exiting in 2020, that’s when the first large wave of forgiveness may happen, and that’s when, if someone wakes up to what they’ve done, that’s probably when it’s going to be. But the perception is that a) it’s incorporated by reference into your promissory note and that again, we just think that they would launch a legal firestorm that they wouldn’t want to put up with if, for people that are currently in the program, so.

Explanation

The student is saying, this program seems too good to be true, what happens when the government realizes how costly this program is, or how inequitable it is that Georgetown Law graduates can walk away from $159,000 or more in federal student loans? Charles Pruett acknowledges that once lawmakers realize “what they’ve done,” yes, they will probably close the loophole that makes the scheme possible. Our post on Higher Ed Watch has some suggestions on how they can do that.

Twice the Price: Report Provides New Detail on Veterans in College

August 2, 2013
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More than 60 percent of higher education benefits provided to veterans under the Post-9/11 GI Bill went to just 5 percent of schools in 2011, many of which had decidedly mixed outcomes for students, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report also looked at student demographics and outcomes at the institutions that received the most funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

But even with all the information included in the report, it is perhaps most notable for addressing just how little we know about the $12 billion a year spent on veterans benefits. Last month, New America’s Federal Education Budget Project produced a background and analysis page on military and veterans education spending. In trying to put together that information, we learned firsthand that with virtually no public information about even the enrollment of veterans or their outcomes at specific institutions, it is astoundingly difficult to piece together funding and other data around higher education for servicemembers and veterans.

The new GAO report goes a long way in providing new information that may be valuable to policymakers. (None of the information is provided by institution, so it’s not likely to be of much use for students.)

The number of veterans receiving education benefits has increased by nearly two-thirds in the past few years following the 2008 enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. That law provided much more generous benefits to recipients who served on or after September 11, 2001, including full tuition and fees at public colleges and universities, or about $19,000 annually toward a private school.

With increased spending on veterans’ benefits has come greater Congressional inquiry into the use of these dollars and the outcomes of recipients, particularly at for-profit colleges. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has held several hearings on the use of veterans benefits at for-profit institutions as part of his larger multi-year investigation into the sector. The GAO report does provide some insight into many of the questions that Harkin and other members of Congress have been asking.

The report shows, for example, that for-profit institutions have been major beneficiaries of increased spending on veterans’ education benefits. For-profit schools received 34 percent of all federal education benefits for veterans and 37 percent of Post-9/11 GI Bill dollars in 2011, despite making up only about 13 percent of total enrollment across the country.

Veterans’ spending and outcomes at for-profit schools have been of particular interest because of a rule known as the “90/10 rule,” which says institutions cannot receive more than more than 90 percent of revenue from federal student aid. Though veterans benefits are a source of federal support, they do not count toward the 90 percent limit. Many argue that exclusion allows schools to game the rule and actually rake in more federal dollars, given that every $1 received in veterans benefits means the institution can take in up to $9 more in federal student aid. The GAO report bears that out – the schools that received the most VA funding were further from violating the 90 percent rule than schools that received less VA spending.

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But that’s not because more students went to those colleges – for those most part, it’s because students paid about double the tuition to attend for-profit schools. Public colleges received 45 percent of veterans education dollars to enroll more than half of all veterans in 2011.

Outcomes for veterans and servicemembers have been varied. At for-profit colleges, students had graduation rates about 6 percentage points higher than the rates at public schools – though not for 4-year degrees, just 2-year. (Private non-profit schools were similar to for-profit schools in graduation rates.)

Still, retention rates – which measures year-over-year re-enrollment of students – were about 6 points lower at for-profit schools than at public and private non-profit colleges. Students at for-profit schools (and the taxpayers who fund veterans education programs) paid double the price to attend those schools. And student loan borrowers (VA and non-VA) at for-profit colleges also had default rates that topped public schools.

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For more background information on servicemembers and veterans education programs, check out our Federal Education Budget Project page. FEBP also maintains the most comprehensive database publicly available on education funding, demographics, and outcomes for every state, school district, and institution of higher education in the country. Check it out for more information on college-level financial aid, graduation rates, student loan default rates, and more.

The Tony Bennett Flap

  • By
  • Kevin Carey,
  • Anne Hyslop,
  • New America Foundation

Do the Math: Christel House’s Grade Doesn’t Add Up

July 31, 2013

Mel Horowitz: You mean to tell me that you argued your way from a C+ to an A-? 
Cher: Totally based on my powers of persuasion, you proud? 
Mel Horowitz: Honey, I couldn't be happier than if they were based on real grades.

Turns out we’ve all been Clueless when it comes to Indiana’s A-F school grades. Former Indiana (and current Florida) schools’ chief Tony Bennett has been under fire for released emails that show he and officials at the Indiana Department of Education altered the grades for certain schools prior to the very-public release of the new accountability measures last fall. What’s particularly worrisome is that the change to the grading methodology wasn’t so public. In fact, it was never announced. And from the emails obtained by AP reporter Tom LoBianco, it’s clear that Christel House’s initial grade set off a firestorm of panic at the IN DOE.

In a press call and separate interview with AEI’s Rick Hess, Bennett explained the matter by saying that Christel House Academy and a dozen other schools were unfairly penalized due to their unconventional grade configurations. Because they didn’t serve students in grades 11 or 12, these schools were missing key data elements for the high school calculation – namely, graduation rates and college readiness indicators, which typically count for 40 percent of the high school model. In Bennett’s words:

“The backstory is simple here, Rick. In our first run of the new school calculations in Indiana, we turned up an anomaly in the results. As we were looking at the grades we were giving our schools, we realized that state law created an unfair penalty for schools that didn't have 11th and 12th grades. Statewide, there were 13 schools in question had unusual grade configurations. The data for grades 11 and 12 came in as zero. When we caught it, we fixed it. That's what this is all about…. Because Christel House was a K-10 school, the systems essentially counted the other two grades as zeroes. That brought the school's score down from an "A" to a "C".”

Turns out it’s not quite that simple. The state has several variations of its grading rubric to apply to different school situations and set-ups. The basic models are 1) elementary and/or middle school grades and 2) high school grades. Then, there is a combined model for schools that have students in grades preK-8 and grades 9-12 – like Christel House, which served students through 10th grade in 2011-12. The grade point averages for the 3-8 portion of the school and the 9-12 portion of the school are weighted according to the percentage of enrolled students in each grade span to arrive at one final, combined grade. (The final scale: 3.51 – 4.00 points = A; 3.00 – 3.50 points = B; 2.00 – 2.99 points = C; 1.00 – 1.99 points = D; 0.00 – 0.99 points = F)

Within the two basic models (ES/MS and HS), there are also deviations for special circumstances. Typically high school grades are calculated with a 60% weight on proficiency in end-of-course exams in Algebra I and English 10 (with potential bonus points for increases in proficiency rates from grades 8-10 and grades 10-12), 30% weight on graduation rates, and 10% weight on college readiness indicators. But some high schools are given special consideration: small schools, HS feeder schools (grade 9 only), 9-10 schools, and 11-12 schools. In the 9-10 model, proficiency rates make up the entire school grade, split evenly between Algebra I and English 10, and the bonus points do not apply.

Confused yet? Bear with me. Christel House should have been evaluated using a mixture of two of the models: the 9-10 model and the combined ES/MS + HS model. Except they weren’t. Because Christel House wouldn’t have gotten an ‘A’ that way. In fact, one of the released emails walks through the calculation (using preliminary, rather than final, achievement data). Under this method, Christel House earned a ‘C’ grade, “a HUGE problem for us” according to officials. And it set off the panic within the Indiana Department of Education – at 2:30 in the morning on September 13.

However, state officials soon – that same day, in fact – came upon a solution. Or in their words, a “loophole,” in the combined model calculation. Here’s the original definition (as written in one of the emails):

(j) A school’s… grade shall be determined by:
(i) Multiplying the average of the ELA and Math points for the EMS grades by the percentage of all students
(ii) Multiplying the sum of the four weighted scores for the high school by the percentage of students.”

Those three bold words contain the loophole Will Krebs, then Director of Policy and Research, found later that day – dubbed “option one.” Because Christel House didn’t have four weighted scores for its high school, the argument was that the combined school methodology was invalid. Without graduation rates and college readiness indicators, the school only had two of the four weighted components. Jon Gubera, Chief Accountability Officer, signed off on this option the following morning writing, “Option one works…. This would eliminate the HS points and ensure Christel House receives at least a B.”

So what does that mean, exactly? In truth, Christel House was never evaluated on its poor high school performance. Instead, all of the high school data were thrown out – a little detail Bennett failed to mention. Christel House’s ‘A’ is based on the ES/MS model only. As you can see below, Christel House’s grade was clearly inflated. The initial data run showed the school with a ‘C’ grade. Using the combined methodology sans “loophole” with its final performance data, however, the school would have actually earned a ‘B.’ Yet the school still received an ‘A’ from the state and was treated as only having elementary and middle school grades. Further, there is no indication anywhere on the state’s school report card that Christel House’s grade fails to reflect the school’s poor high school math performance.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Bennett refused to allow two regular public schools facing state takeover to use a similar "loophole" a year earlier. In both cases, poor middle school performance (where the school had recently expanded) penalized the high school. If their grades could not be separated, why was Bennett so eager to make an exception for Christel House?

These kinds of shenanigans are unacceptable and have chipped away at public faith in the legitimacy of school accountability systems over the last 10+ years of No Child Left Behind. Christel House’s grade is simply more false advertising from states and local districts that have a long history of finding loopholes in accountability systems and exploiting them. In fact, Indiana officials questioned whether using the loophole in this case would encourage other schools to adopt a grade 6-10 model to avoid accountability. Gubera replied: “Not in the immediate if we don’t advertise this everywhere.”

This just illustrates the problem. Christel House is an ‘A’ school… but only for its elementary and middle school program. Yet that isn’t the story Bennett and his staff are telling. This grade inflation is particularly unfortunate in Indiana, where parents and families have a greater degree of school choice than in most states and rely on information like A-F grades to determine where to enroll their children.

The thing is, Tony Bennett knows this:

“This kind of system has to make sense for the end user, in this case, the family… Back in Indiana, we were trying to build a new system. It's an interesting parallel. My recommendation to the Florida board was, "If your system doesn't fully make sense, then how do you defend it?" If the results come out suspect, then, in the end, you can really question the integrity of the system.”

Commissioner Bennett, Christel House’s inflated grade is suspect, and I’m questioning the integrity of the system. Accountability systems – even those required from the U.S. Department of Education – can be done right, but Tony Bennett unfortunately just made it that much harder to make the case for them.

Note: To see option 1 in action for yourself, check out the attached speadsheet from Indiana's Office of Accountability. Christel House Academy appears on the Elementary/Middle School tab, but not on the High School or Combined School tabs.

Using Blocks to Build Tomorrow’s Engineers

July 30, 2013

While most early educators recognize that block play is linked to early learning, it can be difficult to find blocks and other simple building materials in today’s first and second grade classrooms -- and sadly, even in many kindergartens.  

New Data Demonstrate Poverty Trends, Outcomes of Early Childhood Education

August 1, 2013
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Children have been hit especially hard by the economic recession that gripped the United States in late 2007. Many young children went hungry, homeless and without the educational opportunities and health care they needed as their parents struggled to find jobs and put food on the table. A new report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, bolstered by new data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), looks at how children and families are doing today, amid the financial recovery.

At US News' Debate Club: Fix, Don't Eliminate, the Federal Role in Education

July 25, 2013
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Yesterday, US News & World Report asked five experts in its Debate Club whether the Senate should pass the House’s No Child Left Behind rewrite – the Student Success Act. With the last week's House action, the Student Success Act is the first piece of legislation to make it to a floor vote in the six years since NCLB has been due for reauthorization. Sounds like progress, right?

Well I don’t agree. Here’s what I had to say about the Student Success Act: “Unfortunately, the Student Success Act isn't going to fix either policy [NCLB or NCLB waivers]. Because the Student Success Act doesn't want to fix the federal role in education – it wants to eliminate it.”

What does that mean? While the bill would reduce the scope of the federal role in education by freezing funding at sequester levels and eliminating programs and U.S. Department of Education staff, funding isn’t my biggest issue with the Student Success Act. The larger problem is that the bill guts federal accountability for schools and educators at the same time. There are no requirements for states to adopt college- and career-ready standards, no requirements for states to implement rigorous school accountability systems or teacher evaluations, and no requirements for states to meaningfully support school improvement. (You can see a detailed comparison of all the various NCLB reauthorization proposals here.)  

Yes, NCLB was too prescriptive for states in certain areas. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for no federal role whatsoever. As I explain:

"Skeptics say that the federal government can make states do things, but can't make them do things well. But that's the point: without a strong federal role, states may not do anything at all. Instead of giving states slack in the right places (e.g. how to improve schools, how to produce effective teachers), the Student Success Act gives up entirely – no standards, no accountability, no improvement.”

You can read (and vote for) my full response in the Debate Club here, along with commentary from Rep. George Miller (D-CA); president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten; the Center for American Progress, and the American Enterprise Institute.

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