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Senate Education Committee Leaders Urge More Time for States to Develop New Accountability Systems

August 8, 2016

On August 1, Senate education committee leaders requested changes to the Education Department’s proposed accountability rule to allow more time for states working to develop their new accountability system under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

In a letter to Secretary of Education Dr. John King, Jr., Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called on the Education Department to allow states to implement their new accountability systems in 2017-18, and begin to identify new schools for improvement in 2018-19 as the new law fixing No Child Left Behind intended.

Senator Alexander said: “When Congress wrote the new law fixing No Child Left Behind, we envisioned the states would have time to plan for the transition to the new law – but we’ve heard the department’s proposed regulation doesn’t allow enough time for states to do this. I’m strongly urging the Secretary to make clear to schools as quickly as possible that if they choose to, they could implement their new accountability systems in 2017-18 and identify new schools for improvement under that system in 2018-19. Last year, there was a good deal of rejoicing that we had achieved a consensus in a complex area to deliver stability to elementary and secondary education policies. I am hopeful that after the regulations are finally done that we’ll still feel the same way.”

Senator Murray said: “As we wrote this new law, I was very focused on making sure it actually worked for those who we would be asking to implement it. It’s clear that from speaking with teachers, parents, and community members in Washington state and across the country, additional time is necessary to develop a robust but understandable accountability system that can be in place for years to come. I share their concern about the Department’s proposed timeline to require states to identify schools for comprehensive supports, and join in calling for a more flexible timeline and for notification about this change to be put out as quickly as possible. With so much at stake for our students, it’s important we get this right – and that we do so working together.”


On May 31, the Department of Education released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on accountability, state plans, and report cards under ESSA, which says that states must identify new schools for improvement using their new accountability systems at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. At the Senate education committee oversight hearing on implementation of ESSA on June 29, Secretary King said he’s open to considering a different timeline for when states must identify new schools for improvement. The Senate education committee is holding at least six hearings this year on implementation of ESSA to make sure that the law is being implemented in the way that Congress wrote it.

Click here to see the full text of the letter.

Source:  Office of Sen. Lamar Alexander

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