ESEA Reauthorization Kicks Off

January 2015

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has promised a robust education agenda for the 114th Congress. True to his word, Alexander moved quickly to release a draft of the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), on January 13. ESEA was last updated in 2002, as the No Child Left Behind Act, and has been awaiting reauthorization since 2007.

The draft bill contains several provisions related to research. If enacted, the bill would task the Institute of Education Sciences with evaluating Title I activities. In addition, state plans submitted to the Department of Education would be approved unless the department presented “substantial high-quality education research” that demonstrated that a plan would be ineffective or inappropriate. The bill does not define high-quality education research.

Alexander has made it clear that he hopes to have a substantial discussion about ESEA.

The Senate HELP Committee held its first hearing, titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability,” on January 21, with AERA member Martin West, of Harvard University, testifying. At a second hearing, on January 27, AERA member Dan Goldhaber, of the University of Washington and director of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), provided testimony. A third hearing is tentatively scheduled for February 3.

On the House side, John Kline (R-MN), chair of the Education and the Workforce Committee, plans to use the Student Success Act, HR 5, passed by the House in the 113th Congress, as a starting point for a House ESEA reauthorization bill. Kline has said that he plans to have a bill on the House floor before the end of March.