Press Release

WASHINGTON (February 11, 2015) — Today, The Education Trust issued the following statement expressing our disappointment with the House Education Committee’s passing of Chairman John Kline’s “Student Success Act” or H.R. 5.

“Each previous iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, moved the country forward on correcting longstanding injustices in its educational systems. Unless it is significantly improved as it moves through Congress, the Student Success Act will turn back the clock.

“While we are pleased to see that H.R. 5 maintains statewide annual assessments, other provisions of the bill will significantly weaken the law’s focus on the very groups of children who are at its heart — low-income children, racial minorities, English learners and students with disabilities. Together, these children are a solid majority of America’s children. We need to make sure that they are well educated.

“We are particularly concerned about the accountability provisions of the law. Civil rights, business, and disabilities organizations agree that the responsibility for setting goals should be returned to the states, but that states should be asked to set clear goals for improving student performance, including faster progress for the groups of children at the heart of federal law. And those groups agree that states and districts must act in schools where any group of students aren’t making progress. Unfortunately, while H.R. 5 requires states to measure achievement gaps, there is no requirement to act to close them.

“At the same time that this bill walks away from the important federal role of expecting progress for all groups of students, it also walks away from ensuring that the students who are the core of federal law get the resources they need to meet high expectations. The bill’s “portability” provisions, for example, will take much-needed resources away from America’s poorest school districts to send to her wealthiest districts.

“There are several provisions in the Democratic substitute introduced by Ranking Member Bobby Scott that would help fix these particular problems. His amendments, for example, would require state accountability systems to set performance, growth, and graduation targets for all students, including all subgroups of students, and make performance against those targets matter for all schools. Those amendments also would require that states and districts act to ensure that students in most need are taught by effective teachers, and take steps to ensure that the high poverty schools that are the focus of this law receive adequate resources.

“We look forward to working with Congressional leaders in both houses to ensure that we have a strong ESEA that will truly serve our nation’s students.”

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The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people — especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino or American Indian — to lives on the margins of the American mainstream.