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Everything listed under: Congress

  • 5 Things to Know About No Child Left Behind


    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is one of the most important pieces of education legislation in America, which is why Missouri Parent created a multi-part series of posts explaining what NCLB is, how it came to be, and what it means to Missouri students.

    If you don’t have time to read all of our posts about the policy, here are five things to know about No Child Left Behind:

    1) NCLB began in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to help close the education gap between rich and poor Americans.

    2) Schools Must Follow NCLB to receive federal funding, even though NCLB isn’t technically mandated to the U.S. government. (Learn more)

    3) NCLB requires public schools to alert parents if a child’s core academic instructors are not considered “highly qualified” by their state’s teacher qualification standards.

    3) NCLB calls for state-level standardized testing, Adequate Year Progress reports, and annual report cards to be implemented across the country.

    5) The federal education budget has more than tripled since Congress passed NCLB in 2001.

    To learn more about No Child Left Behind, check out these Missouri Parent posts:

    What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is
    What the No Child Left Behind Policy Means to Our Students
    How Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Came to Be: A History

    Missouri Parent exists to help keep you, the parent of a Missouri public school student, in-the-know about legislative and funding decisions that affect your child’s K-12 education. To receive regular public school education updates, bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Isn’t a Game. Or Is It?


    U.S. Congress has been trying to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) all year, but it still hasn’t passed. It turns out that the ESEA isn’t the only bill to get hung up in federal congressional debate; only 1% of bills that go through U.S. Congress pass.

    Learn More About ESEA: What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is

    The Reauthorization of the ESEA shouldn’t be a political game, but it sometimes seems as though Congress treats it like one. To draw attention to the ESEA, and to help advocate for its reauthorization, published an online game called, “Can You Beat The Legislative Odds and Get Your Bill Passed?”

    The game uses multiple choice questions to guide you through a sort of “choose your own adventure” storyline. The goal: to have your bill passed by Congress and signed off on by the President. The catch: you have to be politically savvy to push the bill from a big idea to a real-life law. You can try your hand at the political gamut here


    According to Education Week and the Sunlight Foundation, members of Congress introduced 5,584 bills in 2013, and only 15 Senate bills and 41 House bills were passed into law.

    Read more about the federal legislative process, and about why education bills can take so long to make their way through Congress and to the President’s desk in this story on the Education Week Blog.

    Learn more about education policy and legislation by bookmarking Missouri Parent News. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


  • What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is


    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is always a big topic of conversation in Washington, but now that the policy is more than a decade old, we wonder how many Missouri parents know, in detail, what NCLB is. Here on the MOParent Blog, we’ll break NCLB down into its core components, and next we’ll talk about what each of those components means to our students.

    It’s our goal to keep you informed about legislative and funding issues that affect children in Missouri’s public schools. We hope that this two-part post on No Child Left Behind helps you to better-understand in this important federal educational initiative and the impact it has on Missouri’s K-12 public school students.

    What is No Child Left Behind?
    No Child Left Behind is a federal law that was enacted with bipartisan support as one of the first Congressional initiatives of President George W. Bush in 2001. NCLB is a standards-based education reform initiative that is built “on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.” (Source)

    NCLB didn’t begin with President Bush, though. It began as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The ESEA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. President Johnson hoped that ESEA would help close the education gap between the nation’s underserved and vulnerable students and those in better-served, more stable districts and schools.

    When NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001, it was passed as a re-authorization of President Johnson’s ESEA. In other words, NCLB was the new name given to the updated and re-authorized version of a well-established federal education act.

    NCLB isn’t a federally mandated program. In other words, states aren’t formally required to participate in NCLB. NCLB is, however, tied directly to federal funding: schools that wish to receive federal funding must meet NCLB standards. NCLB significantly increased the involvement — albeit the indirect involvement — of the federal government in public education.

    The federal government’s involvement in public education is the source of much of the controversy surrounding NCLB. While the program has the well-meaning intention of closing achievement gaps by ensuring that all American public school students have access to high-quality education, many state and local school leaders and community members believe that education policy should be kept at the state level.

    NCLB calls for states to implement standardized testing in key subject areas, and to provide annual progress updates to the federal government. In addition, schools, districts, and states are required to make annual “Report Cards” publicly accessible to the parents and the larger community. Finally, NCLB requires that core academic area teachers be “highly qualified”. Since NCLB’s passage in 2001 by Congress, the federal education budget has increased from $42.2 billion to $141 billion.

    To learn more about NCLB’s standardized testing, school report cards, teacher qualifications, and funding changes, come back tomorrow to the Missouri Parent Blog. We’ll explain each of these four NCLB policy components, and what each of them means to our public school students.

    This is part one in a two-part post on No Child Left Behind. Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog to learn about how NCLB affects our students, and connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy and funding issues.

  • What the No Child Left Behind Policy Means to Our Students


    Recently on the Missouri Parent Blog, we wrote about No Child Left Behind (NCLB), explaining what this important federal education policy is. In that post, we explained that schools that wish to receive federal funding must follow NCLB standards for performance and accountability. Today we’ll explain what each of those performance and accountability measures means to our students.

    It’s our goal to keep you informed about legislative and funding issues that affect children in Missouri’s public schools. We hope that this two-part post on No Child Left Behind helps you to better-understand in this important federal educational initiative and the impact it has on Missouri’s K-12 public school students.

    Read Part 1: What the No Child Left Behind Policy Is

    Standardized Testing
    NCLB identifies reading, language arts, mathematics, and science as “core academic subjects”. States seeking federal education funding must develop and implement state assessments in each of those subject areas. There is not a federal achievement standard – instead, each state determines what constitutes achievement in each subject area and grade level.

    What NCLB Means for Our Students: Students are required to take annual state standardized tests in reading, language arts, mathematics, and science in grades 3-8.

    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is one of the ways NCLB measures district accountability. AYP is designed to “ensure that every child learns, every school has the opportunity to improve, and every dollar is spent wisely.” (Source)

    What AYP Means for Our Students: Federal AYP accountability standards reinforce Missouri’s need to give annual standardized tests. Without those tests, Missouri would lose federal NCLB funding. That’s not all though: Schools are identified as successful or failing based on their AYPs. Inadequate AYPs qualify students for school transfers, and persistently low AYPs can result in school closures.

    Report Cards
    NCLB requires states and districts to be transparent about school performance and teacher quality by providing a “report card” to the public.

    What Report Cards Mean for Our Students: NCLB Report Cards give you and your child an idea of your child’s academic progress compared to other students in the school district and the state. NCLB Report Cards also provide information about overall academic achievement in the district and about school safety.

    Find your child’s NCLB District Report Card here.
    Find your child’s School Report Card here.
    Read Missouri’s State Report Card here.

    Teacher Qualifications
    NCLB requires public schools to provide highly qualified teachers to students, specifically in their core academic subject areas (reading, language arts, mathematics, and science). Each state sets its own standards for what it means to be a “highly qualified” teacher.

    What NCLB’s Teacher Qualifications requirements mean to our students: As the parent of a public school student, your child’s school is required by NCLB to notify you if his or her core academic subject area teachers are not considered “highly qualified” by state standards.

    Funding Changes
    Between 2001 and 20014, total federal education funding increased from $42.2 billion to $55.7 billion. In 2014, the federal government allotted approximately $141 billion to education. (Source, Source)

    What NCLB Federal Funding Changes Mean to Our Students: School districts with high concentrations of low-income families benefit more from NCLB than students in higher-income districts. Some of the increase in federal funding was directed toward school technology. Also, students in Title I programs benefit from increased NCLB funding. Finally, Missouri’s special education students have seen an increase in federal funding since the adoption of NCLB through the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have seen an increase in federal funding since the adoption of NCLB.

    This post was the second post in a two-part post on No Child Left Behind. Continue to learn more about funding and legislative issues affecting Missouri students by bookmarking Missouri Parent Blog. You can also connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular Missouri education updates.

  • If You Don't Know Senator Alexander You Need to Read This Post


    The national education stage has many prominent players. Among them is Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the Senate education committee chairman. Today we’re here to make sure that if you have a child in a public school in Missouri, you have a clear idea of what’s happening in Washington—and why the name Sen. Lamar Alexander is an important one to know in 2015.

    Sen. Alexander is the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). He served as U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Busch from March 1991 to January 1993, and he has served in the U.S. Senate since 2003. Sen. Alexander recently presented a proposal to overhaul and reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB). (Source, Source)

    NCLB is a contentious federal education initiative passed in early 2002 by bipartisan majorities and signed into law by former President George W. Bush. NCLB is not a federally mandated program (states are not legally required to follow NCLB). Federal education funding is tied to a state’s adoption of NCLB, though, so states hoping to receive federal funds must opt-in to NCLB.

    Many believe that NCLB has created systematic federal over-reach. Sen. Alexander is one of them, and his NCLB proposal would shift some of the responsibility of educational policy, accountability, and funding back to individual states.

    As commentator Gary Wisenbaker told Valdosta Today — Sen. Alexander’s NCLB proposal “is grounded” in the concept that states should “handle their own problems in education and schooling.” (Source)

    This EdWeek blog post goes into more detail on Sen. Alexander’s proposed changes to NCLB, but here’s Missouri Parent’s bullet-point list of changes:

    • Standardized testing could change.
    • Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures, school choice, and other federal accountability standards will be replaced with accountability standards developed by each state.
    • The federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) model will go away, and so will many other programs.
    • States would have more flexibility in how they use Title I funds.
    • States would not have to develop teacher evaluation models based on student outcomes.
    • Federal funding for quality teachers could be used in new, more flexible ways.
    • Current “high qualified teacher” provisions would go away.
    • The existed Teacher Inventive Fund would be written into law.
    • States would no longer be required to generate minimum state funding in order to receive federal education money.
    • The U.S. Secretary of Education’s reach and authority over states would be limited.

    Learn More: Read EdWeeks’ full blog post on these changes here.

    These changes are big news for NCLB, which means that they’re big changes for public school students in Missouri. If you still aren’t sure why it’s important to know who Sen. Alexander is, though he said it well himself:

    “The work of no Senatecommitteeaffects the daily lives of more Americans more than this one—whether we are fixing No Child Left Behind, or reducing federal paperwork to make it easier for students to attend college, or making it simpler formedical treatments and cures to make their waythrough the Food and Drug Administrationtopatientswho need the help.” (Source)

    If Sen. Alexander succeeds, states and local school districts will regain control, and the federal government will be able to exercise fewer mandates over them. “Generally speaking,” said Sen. Alexander during a press conference call, “I want these discussions about testing standards, and accountability systems to move back to states and communities, where I think they belong.” (Source)

    Sen. Alexander and his NCLB proposal will continue to lead education news on the national stage over the coming weeks. Bookmark the Missouri Parent News page and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri schools.

  • How Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Came to Be: A History



    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is making national headlines again as federal lawmakers debate changes to NCLB proposed by the chairman of the Senate education committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

    If you’re the parent of a public school student right now, you might not have had a school-aged child when NCLB was enacted as a federal law thirteen years ago. If that’s the case, we hope that this NCLB timeline will help you to feel better informed as Sen. Alexander and others in Washington debate NCLB:

    * January 23, 2001: Just days after taking office, President George W. Busch presented one of his first Congressional initiatives, NCLB.

    * January 8, 2002: Congress enacted NCLB as “an act to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.” The bill was passed by bipartisan majorities. (Source)

    * 2004: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) initiated meetings between “more than 135 national civil rights, education, disability advocacy, civic, labor and religious groups” to create a proposal for fundamental changes to NCLB. (Source)

    * October 2004: FairTest released its NCLB proposal, calling for changes to federal education law. The goal? To replace NCLB’s emphasis on standardized test scores with rewards for “systematic changes that improve student improvement.” (Source)

    Read More about FairTest’s Proposal: The Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind.

    * February 2007: The Aspen Commission on NCLB, an independent, bipartisan effort to improve NCLB, released its final recommendations—a set of “specific and actionable policy recommendations,” some of which called for stricter federal enforcement of state educational standards and accountability. (Source)

    * 2007: A working group of the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB—the Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA)—countered the Aspen Commission with its recommendation “to shift NCLB from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to supporting state and communities and hold them accountable as they make systematic changes that improve student learning.” (Source)

    * 2009: Race to the Top (RTTT)—a $4.35 billion reform initiative from the Department of Education was launched by the U.S. Department of Education to spur innovation in education. RTTT was funded by ED Recovery Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. RTTT rewarded states for meeting performance-based educator standards and following other educational policies. (Source)

    * March 2010: President Barack Obama “released a blueprint for reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” (ESEA) which preceded NCLB. The President urged a shift from the “punishment” mentality that concerned NCLB opponents to a system that focused on student improvement. The President also revised ESEA to include assessments for modern skills like technology use and effective communications. The President proposed a $2 billion increase in the federal budget to help schools meet the bill’s mandates. (Source)

    * 2012: The President waived or conditionally waived NCLB requirements to Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin. These states “have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness.” (Source)*

    * 2012: A Gallup poll revealed general public dissatisfaction with NCLB. Only 16% thought that NCLB improved education, and “67% felt that it had made no difference or made things worse.” (Source)

    * January 2015: Senate education committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) proposed major changes to NCLB that would shift the onus of educational policy-making back to individual states.

    NCLB will continue to lead education news on the national stage over the coming weeks. Come back often to the Missouri Parent Blog for NCLB updates. Bookmark the blog, and connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri schools.

    *In order to earn waivers, states were required to “produce their own plans for enhancing teacher competence and academic standards as well as implementing ways to track progress.”

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