Fact Check: How Education Reform Bill Returns Power to the States [UPH Wire]

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
December 7, 2015
Media Contact:
J.P. Freire: (202) 228-0210
Matt Whitlock: (202) 224-4511

*Factcheck: 8 Myths About the ESSA*
*Senate’s Major Education Overhaul Returns Power to the States *

The Senate is voting this week on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), an
education overhaul that lawmakers argue will correct the shortcomings of No
Child Left Behind and will empower states to choose their own standards,
assessments, and accountability systems. Member and former chairman of the
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Hatch,
R-Utah, played a leading role in crafting and finalizing the bill because,
he says, it meets Utah’s demands for a return to state decision-making.

The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of
Representatives and is expected to pass in the Senate. Here are some facts
Utahns need to know to counter some popular myths about the bill.

*1. **Myth:* “This bill is not an improvement over No Child Left Behind”

*Fact:* Education reform leaders both nationally and in Utah have hailed
this bill as a major improvement to No Child Left Behind.

A vote against reauthorization is a vote to *leave the current system in
place*. Without reauthorization, No Child Left Behind will remain the law
of the land, and states will still be subject to the Secretary of
Education’s waivers and their unauthorized requirements. The Every Student
Succeeds Act finally moves us beyond the outdated NCLB and puts us on a
path towards strengthening our Utah’s schools.

Evidence for how ESSA overcomes No Child Left Behind and the Department’s
waivers:
o It ends the Common Core mandate.
o It ends Adequate Yearly Progress.
o It ends the failed federal goal of 100% proficiency by 2014, which had
unfairly resulted in a failing grade for every school in America.
o It ends the requirement that all schools that don’t meet goals for any
subgroup of students are automatically identified as failing.
o It ends the federal school improvement strategies.
o It ends the highly qualified teacher requirement.
o It end the teacher evaluation mandate.
o It ends the trend towards a National School Board.
o It ends federal test-based accountability.
o It ends waivers as of August 1, 2016.
o It restores responsibility and flexibility to states and local school
districts.

*2. **Myth*: “ESSA is about more Federal Intrusion into state authority.”

*Fact*: Decision-making is restored to the local level where it belongs.

Since 2010, the federal government, through a “National School Board,” has
prescribed policies to states and local districts. This bill *significantly
reduces the Secretary of Education’s authority in **state decision-making*
and effectively returns control over educational decision making from the
federal government and places that responsibility where it belongs: at the
local level.

*What the bill says: *
*Title VIII, Sec. 8527:* Nothing in this Act shall be construed to
authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including
through a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, to mandate, direct,
or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s curriculum,
program of instruction, or allocation of State or local resources, or
mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any
costs not paid for under this Act.

The Secretary is not authorized or permitted to:
· Issue non-regulatory guidance that provides a strictly limited or
exhaustive list for how to improve accountability systems or purports to be
legally binding
· Require the collection of data beyond existing federal, state, or
local reporting requirements
· Define any term that is inconsistent with or outside the scope of
Title I, Part A, which encompasses standards, assessments, and
accountability.
· Issue any rules or regulations that add new requirements or new
criteria related to statewide accountability systems that are inconsistent
with or outside the scope of Title I, Part A
· Issue any rules or regulations that are in excess of authority
granted to the Secretary under the new law.

*3. **Myth: *ESSA paves the way for more Common Core.

*Fact:* *Any type of federal mandate or incentive around Common Core is
effectively removed*, placing that decision squarely on the shoulders of
state officials.

This bill ensures that any decision around the standards a state wishes to
use – Common Core or otherwise – is made solely at the state level.

*What the bill says:*
*Title I, Sec. 1111:* A State shall not be required to submit any standards
developed under this subsection to the Secretary for review or approval.
The Secretary shall not have the authority to mandate, direct, control,
coerce, or exercise any direction or supervision over any of the
challenging State academic standards adopted or implemented by a State.
*Title VIII, Sec. 8526A:* No officer or employee of the Federal Government
shall, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, mandate,
direct, or control State, local educational agency, or school’s specific
instructional content, academic standards and assessments, curricula, or
program of instruction developed and implemented to meet the requirements
of this Act (including any requirement, direction, or mandate to adopt the
Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards
Initiative, any other academic standards common to a significant number of
States, or any assessment, instructional content, or curriculum aligned to
such standards), nor shall anything in this Act be construed to authorize
such officer or employee to do so.
*Title VIII, Sec. 8526A: * No officer or employee of the Federal Government
shall condition or incentivize the receipt of any grant, contract, or
cooperative agreement, the receipt of any priority or preference under
such grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, or the receipt of a waiver
under section 8401 upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s
adoption or implementation of specific instructional content, academic
standards and assessments, curricula, or program of instruction
developed and implemented to meet the requirements of this Act (including
any condition, priority, or preference to adopt the Common Core State
Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any
other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or any
assessment, instructional content, or curriculum aligned to such
standards).’’

*4. **Myth*: “ESSA does little to protect student or teacher data privacy,
and even authorizes the sale of student data.”

*Fact*: This bill helps protects the information of Utah’s teacher and
students and effectively maintains the scope of FERPA.

*What the bill says:*
*Title I, Sec. 1112:* The State educational agency will provide the
information described in clauses (ii), (iii), and (vii) of subsection
(h)(1)(C) to the public in an easily accessible and user-friendly manner
that can be cross-tabulated by, at a minimum, each major racial and ethnic
group, gender, English proficiency status, and children with or without
disabilities, which— (III) is consistent with the requirements of section
444 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g, commonly
known as the ‘Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974’).

*Title I -* Information collected or disseminated under this section
(including any information collected for or included in the reports
described in subsection (h)) shall be collected and disseminated in a
manner that protects the privacy of individuals consistent with section 444
of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g, commonly known as
the ‘Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974’) and this Act.

*Title II, Sec. 2101 -* [Programs may include] providing high-quality,
personalized professional development that is evidence-based, to the extent
the State (in consultation with local educational agencies in the State)
deter- mines that such evidence is reasonably avail- able, for teachers,
instructional leadership teams, principals, or other school leaders, that
is focused on improving teaching and student learning and achievement,
including supporting efforts to train teachers, principals, or other school
leaders to— (ii) use data to improve student achievement and understand how
to ensure individual student privacy is protected, as required under
section 444 of the General Education Provisions Act (commonly known as the
‘Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974’) (20 U.S.C. 1232g) and
State and local policies and laws in the use of such data.

*Representative Messer’s amendment to Title II, which Senator Hatch voted
in favor of:* Supporting and developing efforts to train teachers on the
appropriate use of student data to ensure that individual student privacy
is protected as required by section 444 of the General Education Provisions
Act (commonly known as the ‘Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of
1974’) (20 U.S.C. 1232g) and in accordance with State student privacy laws
and local educational agency student privacy and technology use policies.
… And understanding how to protect individual student privacy in
accordance with section 444 of the General Education Provisions Act
(commonly known as the “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974”)
(20 U.S.C. 123) and State and local policies and laws in the use of such
data.

*5. **Myth*: “ESSA would codify the new $250 million federal pre-school
program, creating mission creep in the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act.”

*Fact:* This grant program is not a federal mandate for preschool. States
would choose to apply for this funding only if they want it. This program
would be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, and does not
expand authority for the Department of Education.

The Preschool Development Grants included in the bill aims to assist states
in developing, updating, and implementing a strategic plan that encourages
collaboration and coordination among existing programs of early childhood
care and education, which would increase the effectiveness of money spent
on these programs.

*What the bill says:*
*Title IX, Sec. 9212:* The purposes of this section are— to assist States
to develop, update, or implement a strategic plan that facilitates
collaboration and coordination among existing programs of early childhood
care and education in a mixed delivery system across the State designed to
prepare low-in- come and disadvantaged children to enter kindergarten and
to improve transitions from such system into the local educational agency
or elementary school that enrolls such children; Head Start providers,
State and local governments, Indian tribes and tribal organizations,
private entities (including faith- and community-based entities), and local
educational agencies, to improve coordination, program quality, and
delivery of services; and to maximize parental choice among a
mixed delivery system of early childhood education program providers.

*Enzi Amendment: *The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in
consultation with the heads of all Federal agencies that administer Federal
early childhood education programs, shall conduct an interdepartmental
review of all early childhood education programs for children less than 6
years of age in order to – develop a plan for the elimination of
overlapping programs, as identified by the Government Accountability
Office’s 2012 annual report; determine if the activities conducted by
States using grant funds from preschool development grants under section
9207 have led to better utilization of resources; and make recommendations
to Congress for streamlining all such programs.

*6. **Myth*: “ESSA erodes parental rights to opt out of high-pressure state
tests by mandating that State accountability systems penalize schools that
don’t enforce the requirement that 95% take the tests.”

*Fact*: Because this bill devolves the responsibility of education from the
federal government to states and local districts, ESSA allows states to
have opt-out laws, but must still test 95% of students. However, if a state
misses the 95% threshold, *states – not the federal government – determine
any and all consequences*.

*What the bill says:*
*Title VIII, Sec. 8025L OPT-OUT PROCESS.*—A parent of a secondary school
student may submit a written request, to the local educational agency, that
the student’s name, address, and telephone list- ing not be released for
purposes of paragraph (1) without prior written consent of the parent. Upon
receiving such request, the local educational agency may not release the
student’s name, address, and telephone listing for such purposes without
the prior written consent of the parent; *NOTIFICATION OF OPT-OUT
PROCESS.*—Each
local educational agency shall notify the parents of the students served by
the agency of the option to make a request described in subparagraph (A).
*Title I – *Annually measure the achievement of not less than 95 percent of
all students, and 95 percent of all students in each subgroup of students,
who are enrolled in public schools on the assessments described under
subsection (b)(2)(v)(I).

*7. **Myth*: “ESSA allows the success of big money, data mining, federal
control, flawed and experimental standards, developmentally and age
inappropriate education, with an unknown price tag, loss of parental
control, and incessant testing.” / *Myth*: “ESEA still requires toxic
testing and common standards.”

*Fact:* A “YES” vote on the bill is a “YES” vote for states to write their
own standards, without ANY input from the Secretary of Education.

For years, Utahns have been asking for the freedom to choose their own
standards, their own assessments, and their own accountability systems.
This bill allows states to establish systems that work best for school
districts, parents, and, most importantly, students.

With its firm balance of flexibility and transparency, this bill maintains
rigorous and important measurements of student academic progress, but
allows states and localities to determine how best to measure and evaluate
this progress.

*What the bill says:*
*Title I *- ‘‘(1) CHALLENGING STATE ACADEMIC STANDARDS.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—Each State, in the plan it files under subsection (a),
shall provide an assurance that the State has adopted challenging academic
content standards and aligned academic achievement standards (referred to
in this Act as ‘challenging State academic standards’), which achievement
standards shall include not less than 3 levels of achievement, that will be
used by the State, its local educational agencies, and its schools to carry
out this part. A State shall not be required to submit such challenging
State academic standards to the Secretary.
‘‘(2) ACADEMIC ASSESSMENTS.—‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—Each State plan
shall demonstrate that the State educational agency, in consultation with
local educational agencies, has implemented a set of high-quality student
academic assessments in mathematics, reading or language arts, and science.
The State retains the right to implement such assessments in any other
subject chosen by the State.
[Assessments should] be aligned with the challenging State academic
standards, and provide coherent and timely information about student
attainment of such standards and whether the student is performing at the
student’s grade level; be used for purposes for which such assessments are
valid and reliable, consistent with relevant, nationally recognized
professional and technical testing standards, objectively measure academic
achievement, knowledge, and skills, and be tests that do not evaluate or
assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose
personally identifiable in- formation;
‘‘(E) STATE AUTHORITY.—If a State educational agency provides evidence,
which is satisfactory to the Secretary, that neither the State educational
agency nor any other State government official, agency, or entity has
sufficient authority, under State law, to adopt challenging State academic
standards, and academic assessments aligned with such standards, which will
be applicable to all students enrolled in the State’s public elementary
schools and secondary schools, then the State educational agency may meet
the requirements of this sub- section by—
‘‘(i) adopting academic standards and academic assessments that meet the
re- quirements of this subsection, on a state- wide basis, and limiting
their applicability to students served under this part; or
‘‘(ii) adopting and implementing poli- cies that ensure that each local
educational agency in the State that receives grants under this part will
adopt academic con- tent and student academic achievement standards, and
academic assessments aligned with such standards, which—

‘‘(I) meet all of the criteria in this subsection and any regulations
regarding such standards and assessments that the Secretary may publish; and
‘‘(II) are applicable to all stu- dents served by each such local edu-
cational agency.

*8. **Myth: “*This bill is being rushed through Congress only giving
members 24 hours to review it before passage.”

*Fact:* This bill has gone through a lengthy and deliberative process,
including extensive debate and amendments.

Evidence from the Senate Process:
· Bill introduced to HELP (January/February 2015)
· HELP Committee Mark Up (April 13-16, 2015) = 22-0
o 58 amendments considered
o 29 amendments agreed to
· Bill introduced to full Senate (April 30, 2015)
· Senate Floor passage = 81 – 17 (July 16, 2015)
o 78 amendments considered
o 65 amendments agreed to
· Conference Report passage = 38 – 1 (November 19, 2015)
o 9 amendments considered
o 7 amendments agreed to
· Conference Report filed (November 30, 2015)
· Conference Report passes the House = 359 – 64 Senate vote on
December 8, 2015
· House process:
o Bill introduced (February 3, 2015)
o Ed and Workforce Markup (February 11, 2015)
o House floor passage = 218 – 213 (July 8, 2015)
o Conference Report passage = 38 – 1 (November 19, 2015)
§ 9 amendments considered
§ 7 amendments agreed to
o Conference Report filed (November 30, 2015)
o Conference Report passes the House = 359 – 64

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