primary source of federal aid to K-12 education is the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA), particularly its Title I, Part A program of
Education for the Disadvantaged. The ESEA was initially enacted in 1965
(P.L. 89-10), and was most recently amended and reauthorized by the No
Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, P.L. 107-110). The NCLB authorized
virtually all ESEA programs through FY2008. It is widely expected that the 113th Congress will consider whether to amend and
extend the ESEA.
The NCLB initiated a major expansion of federal influence upon several aspects
of public K-12 education, primarily with the aim of increasing the
accountability of public school systems and individual public schools for
improving achievement outcomes of all students, especially the disadvantaged.
States must implement in all public schools and school districts a variety of standards-based
assessments in reading, math and science; make complex annual adequate yearly progress
(AYP) determinations for each public school and district; and require virtually
all public school teachers and aides to meet a variety of qualification
requirements. State AYP policies must incorporate an ultimate goal of all
public school students reaching a proficient or higher level of achievement
by the end of the 2013-14 school year. Further, participating states must enforce
a series of increasingly substantial consequences for most of their
schools and almost all school districts that fail to meet the AYP
standards for two consecutive years or more. All of these requirements are
associated with state participation in the ESEA Title I-A program.
Other major ESEA programs provide grants to support the education of migrant
students; recruitment of and professional development for teachers;
language instruction for limited English proficient students; drug abuse
prevention programs; after-school instruction and care; expansion of
charter schools and other forms of public school choice; education services for Native
American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native students; Impact Aid to compensate
local educational agencies for taxes foregone due to certain federal
activities; and a wide variety of innovative educational approaches or
instruction to meet particular student needs.
While Congress has not enacted legislation to reauthorize the ESEA, the Administration
has made available an ESEA flexibility package that waives various
academic accountability requirements, teacher qualification-related
requirements, and funding flexibility requirements that were enacted through
NCLB. In exchange for these waivers, states must agree to meet four principles established
by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for “improving student academic achievement
and increasing the quality of instruction.” The four principles, as stated by
ED, are as follows: (1) college- and career-ready expectations for all
students; (2) state-developed differentiated recognition, accountability,
and support; (3) supporting effective instruction and leadership; and (4)
reducing duplication and unnecessary burden.
Taken collectively, the waivers and principles included in the ESEA flexibility
package amount to a fundamental redesign by the Administration of many of
the accountability and teacher-related requirements included in current
law. As of December 2012, ED had approved ESEA flexibility package
applications for 34 states and the District of Columbia and was reviewing
applications from several other states. If Congress considers ESEA
reauthorization during the 113th Congress, it
is possible that provisions included in any final bill may be similar to or
override the waivers and principles established by the Administration.
Date of Report: January 14, 2013
Number of Pages: 32 Order Number: RL33960 Price: $29.95
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