Home E-mail Print
Federal Issues
| Federal Legislative Glossary | Federal Stimulus Package

Watch your e-mail for the WASB Legislative Update free weekly newsletter.

ESEA Modernization Update
horizontal rule

The House (H.R. 5) and Senate (S. 1177) bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) are awaiting floor votes in each chamber.  The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has prepared this ESEA comparison chart outlining the differences between the current House and Senate versions of the reauthorization of the ESEA (a/k/a No Child Left Behind).

The NSBA is engaged in ongoing discussions with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) regarding next step.

As we await the House and Senate floor votes and subsequentHouse-Senate conference committee negotiations to reconcile differences between the two bills, the NSBA asks school board members to please contact your members of Congress to encourage continued action.  You can find the NSBA’s sample message  at the NSBA Legislative Action Center, which you can use to email or call your members of Congress.

Posted :May 14, 2015

U.S. House Debates But Does Not Pass NCLB Rewrite Legislation
horizontal rule

The U.S. House of Representatives debated legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/No Child Left Behind) this week.  The debate on the "Student Success Act" (H.R. 5) included consideration of more than 40 amendments.  As of late afternoon Friday, February 27, the House paused consideration of H.R. 5 to turn its attention to a short-term funding bill for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  However, votes are expected into the weekend and NSBA remains actively engaged around this legislative activity.  

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said he's disappointed the House didn't vote on passage of the No Child Left Behind rewrite, but he'll keep charging ahead with the bill.


House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said he's disappointed the House didn't vote on passage of the No Child Left Behind rewrite, but he'll keep charging ahead with the bill.

"I look forward to continuing to discuss with my colleagues the conservative reforms in this legislation, and I expect we will have an opportunity to finish this important work soon," Kline said.

Forty-three amendments were offered to the bill: Of those, 25 were adopted, 5 failed, 3 were withdrawn, and recorded votes on 10 amendments were postponed. More information about the decisions on notable amendments is below.

Section 6528 of H.R. 5 includes a provision advanced by National School Boards Association (NSBA) that affirms local school board governance.
H.R. 5 does not include language that would allow federal Title I funds to fund private vouchers.

Concerns:  The bill's provisions for Title I portability, that funding authorizations for Title I grants for disadvantaged students and related programs call for level funding (i.e., flat, with no increase) in each fiscal year from 2016 to 2021, and the bill's exclusion of maintenance of effort (MOE) provisions (which could impact some districts).

View the NSBA letter and our ESEA comparison chart which has been updated to reflect H.R. 5.

Notable amendments considered to H.R. 5 include:


  • An amendment to permit states to use funds to evaluate their assessments to eliminate unnecessary testing (AGREED TO, Rep. Bonamici, D-OR. This is essentially her SMART bill that she co-authored with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
  • An amendment to let LEAs develop their own local assessments (AGREED TO, Rep. Goodlatte, R-VA)
  • An amendment protecting collective bargaining agreements and MOUs (AGREED TO, Rep. Davis, D-IL)
  • An amendment expressing the sense of Congress that Charter Schools are a critical part of our education system (AGREED TO, Rep. Messer, R-IN [and author of a voucher amendment that was not made in order])
  • An amendment to encourage collaboration & sharing of best practices between public schools & charter schools (AGREED TO, Rep. Polis, D-CO)
  • An amendment to clarify that professional development for early childhood is an allowable use of federal education funds. (AGREED TO, Rep. Clark, D-MA)
  • An amendment to ratchet up compliance reviews and other accountability mechanisms for federal education programs (AGREED TO, Rep. Collins, R-GA)
  • An amendment to reaffirm free exercise of religion for student, teacher & schools (AGREED TO, Rep. Flores, R-TX) 
  • An amendment to prohibit states from using federal education funds to pay for pension systems (AGREED TO & bi-partisan, Rep. Dold, R-IL)
  • An amendment to require states to ensure that apprenticeships are included in Title I plans (AGREED TO, Rep. Langevin, D-RI)
  • An amendment to require LEAs to describe extended learning activities(if they have them) in their Title I plans. (AGREED TO, Rep. Barletta, R-PA)
  • An amendment to restore paraprofessional qualifications (AGREED TO Rep. Quigley, IL)


  • An amendment to shorten the reauthorization from 5 years to 3 (FAILED, Grothman, R-WI))
  • An amendment to fund the STEM Gateways program (FAILED. Kennedy, D-MA)
  • An amendment to appoint an Ombudsman at USDE to ensure textbooks are high quality (FAILED, Rep. Castro, D-TX)
  • An amendment to delay Title II implementation pending USDE determination that it will not adversely impact schools serving high percentage of students in poverty (FAILED, Rep. Moore, D-WI)


  • An amendment to restore maintenance of effort (MOE) (WITHDRAWN by the sponsor, Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-OH)
  • An amendment to require state assessment systems to measure student growth (WITHDRAWN, Rep. Meeks, D, NY) 

Posted : March 2, 2015

House Committee Advances Bill to Re-write ESEA
(a/k/a No Child Left Behind)
horizontal rule

The House Education and the Workforce Committee took up legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on Wednesday, February 11. The committee passed an amended version of the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) on a party-line vote after more than eight hours of debate.

The list of motions and amendments (including the full text of amendments and roll call votes) is available. Below are a few highlights for amendments that are likely to be of interest to school boards:

Title I Portability

The Title I portability provision in Section 1128 of H.R. 5, “Title I Funds Follow the Low-Income Child State Option,” is included in the measure to allow public school choice. NSBA is concerned with this provision because it could impact resources between Title I schools and non-Title I schools. An amendment offered by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) during the markup to strike the Title I portability language, restore maintenance of effort requirements, and address comparability in resources to schools, was defeated by a party-line vote.

Voucher Amendment

Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced an amendment on private school choice. After the committee debated the issue, the amendment was withdrawn. (NSBA’s position adopted by the Delegate Assembly states that “NSBA supports local community public schools and unconditionally vouchers, tuition tax credits and similar schemes, including charter schools not approved by local school boards…”)

Adoption of the Amendment to Add Military Connected Students as a Subgroup

Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) offered an amendment that would require state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) to report on achievement of military dependent students. This amendment was passed with bipartisan support. Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) supported the amendment but expressed concern that additional funds are not provided for educating military dependent students. The amendment passed by a voice vote.

English Language Learners

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) raised an amendment that would increase the authorized funding levels for the English Language Acquisition (Title III) program. The amendment was not approved.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) introduced an amendment that would exempt English language learners from being included in the accountability system for two years for math and three years for reading. This measure was passed by the committee with bipartisan support.

Title I Funding

Another amendment raised by Rep. Fudge to provide mandatory funding for Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) through the year 2021 was not approved. (The measure approved by the committee would authorize $16.2 billion for Title I, Part A grants for each of Fiscal Years 2016 through 2021. Title I grants support student achievement efforts at roughly 90 percent of the 14,000 school districts across the nation.)

Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) stated, “I want to thank all my colleagues for engaging in a robust debate and offering their ideas to improve education. We have a lot of work ahead, and we will continue to move forward in a manner that is open, transparent, and fair. America’s parents, teachers, and students have waited long enough for a new law that helps every child in every school receive an excellent education. This important bill will move us closer toward that goal, and I look forward to continuing the debate in the weeks ahead.”

Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) stated, “We are faced with tremendous opportunity to bring our education system into the 21st century. We, Democrats and Republicans, have the chance to work together and ensure that all students have access to a world-class education that prepares them for success in the global economy.”

Posted Feb. 13, 2015

House Education Committee Chairman Kline Introduces ESEA Reauthorization Bill: The Student Success Act
horizontal rule

Chairman John Kline (R-MN) of the House Education & the Workforce Committee has introduced the Student Success Act, his reauthorization bill for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). A markup of this bill is scheduled for Wednesday, February 11th.

View News Release

Background: Back in in mid July 2013, the GOP-led U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, a/k/a the "Student Success Act," on a 221-207 party-line vote. That bill included the following provisions:

  • Eliminates Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and replaces it with state-determined accountability systems.
  • Repeals "highly qualified teacher" requirements and directs states and school districts to develop teacher evaluation systems. The systems must be locally developed and implemented with parameters that factor in student achievement, incorporate multiple measures, and include feedback from all stakeholders.
  • Maintains a requirement to issue and distribute annual report cards, including graduation rate data and student achievement.
  • Codifies across-the-board sequestration cuts.
  • Creates a voucher-like program to allow Title I portability.
  • Eliminates "Maintenance of Effort" to access federal funds. (Maintenance of effort provisions for education aim to ensure that states provide at least the same level of funding for K-12 education from one year to the next.)
  • States would have to set aside 3% of Title I funds for a competitive grant program to allow districts to offer school choice or free tutoring.
  • Prohibits the U.S. Secretary of Education from imposing conditions on states when it comes to standards or assessments, or from asking for changes to state standards.
  • No renewal for Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, School Improvement Grants, or Promise Neighborhoods programs.

The introduction of the current bill comes roughly one month after Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced his discussion draft on ESEA.

Posted Feb. 6, 2015

President's FY2016 Budget Request Released
horizontal rule

President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2016 budget request to Congress earlier this week, which proposes increases in Title I funding for disadvantaged students and special education under IDEA. The budget request also includes a plan to end further across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration, which will help prevent an erosion of the federal investment in education. NSBA urges Congress to pass legislation to permanently end the sequester, which reduced funding for education programs by more than $2.5 billion in FY2013.

Specifically, the budget request to Congress proposes a $1 billion increase to Title I grants, a $175 million increase in IDEA grants to states (which would provide a per-child average of $1,768 for an estimated 6.6 million children with disabilities), and a $36 million increase for the English Language Acquisition program "to help ... meet the educational needs of the growing numbers of English Learner (EL) students enrolled." The proposal acknowledges the priority of expanding access to high-quality early learning programs, calling for increases of more than $600 million. In other areas, funding for the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) would remain at $169.8 million; and, Race to the Top is not included in the budget request.

The budget request is a starting point in the federal budget and appropriations process. In the coming weeks, Congress is slated to debate a FY2016 budget resolution and begin work on individual appropriations bills. Funding for most education programs is allocated through the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees for the Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

Posted Feb. 5, 2015

Senator Alexander puts forth "Discussion Draft" on ESEA Reauthorization
horizontal rule

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new chair of the Senate Health, Education, Pensions and Labor--or "HELP" committee as it is sometimes called—the Senate committee with jurisdiction over education, has put forward a “discussion draft” of the reauthorization legislation and is seeking comments on the drafts by Feb.2, 2015. Once comments are received, he plans to mark up (i.e., vote on and move out of committee) a final version of the Senate bill by mid-February.

It appears from the discussion draft that Sen. Alexander is not clear which direction he wants to go on accountability-related testing. The discussion draft provides for two options on testing: the first option seems to maintain the status quo, the second option would allow local school districts to come up with their own test so long as the test (or the test matrices) it chooses are comparable with each other so that results can be compared at the state level. (Note: the second option somewhat parallels the approach taken in the Wisconsin state Assembly’s accountability bill—Assembly Bill 1—that would allow for multiple tests.)

Other key provisions in Sen. Alexander’s discussion draft would: a) allow portability of Title I funds (they would follow the student if the student moves to another public school) and b) delete the maintenance of effort requirement in current law, which requires states to spend at least as much the did the previous year for educational programs funded with Title I. Instead the discussion draft would include a requirement that states must use federal Title I funds to supplement and not supplant other state and local funds.

The HELP committee plans a hearing on the NCLB rewrite for Feb. 3, the day we are scheduled to visit with our congressional offices. (Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin serves on the Senate HELP committee.)

With respect to the portability provisions it is expected that Sen. Alexander or other Senarte REpublicans will come out with more aggressive proposals (i.e., to allow Title I funds to follow students to a private school—such as a voucher school) through the amendment process when the bill is marked up.

The House is on a similar timetable, although it appears that the Senate will go first. That has a lot to do with the fact that the Senate has the “Filibuster” rule, which requires 60 votes for a proposal to get to the floor for a final vote. (Because Republicans now have 54 votes in the Senate, they will need at least 6 Democrats to join them if they hope to bring a reauthorization bill to the floor.) This makes the Senate crucial to passage of any NCLB (a/k/a ESEA) reauthorization bill. A key factor will likely be how far Sen. Alexander and his GOP colleagues press on portability of Title I funds to private and religious schools, which is something Democrats have opposed in the past.

Posted January 30, 2015

horizontal rule
WASB Services Meetings & Events Products & Publications School Law Information Service Associates WASB Insurance Plan
122 West Washington Avenue | Suite 400 | Madison, Wisconsin 53703-2761 | Phone: 608-257-2622 | Fax: 608-257-8386 | Email: info@wasb.org