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Monday, November 19, 2012

ESEA Reauthorization Proposals in the 112th Congress: Comparison of Major Features



Rebecca R. Skinner
Specialist in Education Policy

Jeffrey J. Kuenzi
Specialist in Education Policy

Cassandria Dortch
Analyst in Education Policy

Gail McCallion
Specialist in Social Policy


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was last amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110). During the 112th Congress, both the House and Senate have considered legislation to reauthorize the ESEA. On October 20, 2011, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee considered and ordered reported the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 3578; S.Rept. 112-221) by a bipartisan vote of 15-7. The House Education and Workforce Committee considered and ordered reported two bills that together would provide for a comprehensive reauthorization of the ESEA: (1) the Student Success Act (H.R. 3989, H.Rept. 112-458), and (2) the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990; H.Rept. 112-459 Part 1). Both bills were ordered reported on February 28, 2012, on strictly partisan votes (23-16 in each case). It is unclear whether S. 3578 or H.R. 3989 and H.R. 3990 will be considered on the Senate or House Floors, respectively.

S. 3578 and H.R. 3989 and H.R. 3990 would take different approaches to reauthorizing the ESEA, most notably in three key areas:


  1. Accountability for student achievement: Both S. 3578 and H.R. 3989 would modify current accountability requirements related to student achievement, including eliminating the requirement to determine adequate yearly progress (AYP) and the requirement to apply a specified set of outcome accountability provisions to all schools, regardless of the extent to which they failed to make AYP. While both bills would continue to require that states have standards for, and assess students annually in, reading and mathematics, only S. 3578 would continue to require states to have standards and assessments in science. S. 3578 would require various interventions to be implemented in certain low achieving schools, while H.R. 3989 would not require specific actions to be taken in low performing schools. 
  2. Teacher quality versus teacher effectiveness: S. 3578 would retain requirements related to “teacher quality” unless a state met several requirements related to teacher performance evaluation, including using student achievement as part of the teacher evaluation process. H.R. 3989 and H.R. 3990 would eliminate current “teacher quality” requirements but would require local educational agencies to implement teacher performance evaluation systems based, in part, on student achievement. 
  3. Targeted support for elementary and secondary education versus the use of a block grant: Each bill would consolidate some existing competitive grant programs, but H.R. 3989 and H.R. 3990 would consolidate a greater number of programs than S. 3578. At the same time, S. 3578 would create several new targeted grant programs, while H.R. 3990 would greatly expand the use of block grant funding. .

Date of Report: November 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 56
Order Number: R42819
Price: $29.95

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