Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

The current iteration of ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), is now four years late in being reauthorized. Although AFSA agrees with the goals of NCLB, we strongly disagree with the means to achieve them. Rather than labeling schools as failing and imposing punitive sanctions, schools need increased support and resources to meet the various needs of their students. Specifically, AFSA calls for the following in the reauthorization of ESEA:

Professional Development – Professional Development for educators and school administrators must be an important part of the new ESEA legislation. Any professional development program must be developed on a local level in conjunction with school administrators to meet the specific needs of the school.

Assessments – Standardized test scores alone do not accurately measure school and student performance. Assessments must incorporate a wider variety of subject matter and must also include portfolios of student work and individual performance assessments to provide a more dynamic representation of a student’s achievement.

Accountability – Reauthorization of ESEA must reject punitive sanctions that are based on flawed measurements. The lowest performing schools must be offered the greatest support, time to meet clear indicators, and not be subject to unproven reform policies and turnaround methods. Rather than calling for their immediate removal, principals should be looked to as key players in implementing school reform initiatives, for they often have a unique understanding of the school culture and needs and are able to create a system of core values within a school environment.

Parental Involvement – The plan for ESEA must incorporate increased collaboration between parents and educators to improve students’ performance.

Funding – Reauthorization of ESEA must create federal incentives for states to reform inequitable school funding systems that consistently favor wealthier districts. Congress must also ensure the law is fully funded.