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News Brief

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Chiefs from KY and NY Call on Congress to Reauthorize ESEA in Testimony before U.S. Senate

Outline Implementation of ESEA Flexibility Waivers
Contact:Melissa McGrathmelissa.mcgrath@ccsso.org202-336-7034

WASHINGTON, DC - Chief state school officers from Kentucky and New York testified today about the reform efforts they are advancing under their approved flexibility waivers before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and called on Congress to promptly reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The hearing titled "No Child Left Behind: Early Lessons from State Flexibility Waivers" included testimony from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday, and New York Commissioner of Education John King.

On January 8, 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the reauthorization of the ESEA of 1965, was signed into law. Since that time, states have been operating under NCLB, even as the intended time for reauthorization of the law by Congress (2007) has come and gone and the urgency for reauthorization continues to mount. Now 34 states and the District of Columbia have received approval from U.S. Department of Education of their plans to move beyond certain provisions of NCLB. Rather than backing down from accountability, states have built upon the positive aspects of NCLB and improved upon the law by proposing new accountability systems that are more comprehensive and rigorous and are better designed to support continuous improvement for all districts, schools, and students.  Today, the HELP Committee heard from states about implementation of the plans they proposed under these ESEA Flexibility Waivers.

 In testimony before the Committee, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday explained the focus of the state's waiver request, "Kentucky completed a waiver application that built on the key components of NCLB. We kept a focus on proficiency, achievement gaps, graduation rate, and annual progress. However, we moved to a more rigorous standard - college and career readiness for all students." 

 While the waivers have provided states the needed flexibility to continue advancing important reforms aimed at improving education for all students, states continue to call for ESEA reauthorization. Holliday asked Senators to "move toward reauthorization as soon as possible to provide concrete parameters for states for improving education systems to better serve students. However, I strongly encourage the committee to provide those states that have demonstrated their commitment to accountability and college/career readiness for ALL students through the waiver process, the ability to continue and grow that innovation through a flexible federal law and additional funding flexibility that will support states as they work to make the vision of college/career readiness for ALL students a reality."

 New York Commissioner of Education, John King also addressed the Committee about waiver and reform implementation.  "The waiver process helped align NCLB with New York's reforms.  It's given us the flexibility to use data effectively, move forward on teacher and principal evaluations and implement the Common Core.  We're already seeing the benefits of the increased flexibility the waiver has given us.  New York is committed to reform; we're building a ladder toward our goal of graduating every student college- and career-ready," King said. "The waiver is helping us ensure that every rung on that ladder is strong enough for every student to reach the top.  Reauthorization should not tear that ladder down.  It should build on the flexibility the waiver has already given us.  If there's one area that Congress can act on to strengthen ESEA, it's early childhood education.  That's the vital first step so many of our students are missing out on."

 Click here to read Commissioner Holliday's written testimony and here to read Commissioner King's testimony. 

 For more information about State ESEA Flexibility Requests and waiver implementation, click here.