Conference Committee Releases Final Language of Bill to Fix No Child Left Behind

Includes Bennet-Authored Provisions Secured during Committee, Floor Debate, Conference

Washington, DC - The conference committee charged with reconciling the House- and Senate-passed versions of legislation to fix No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has released the final bill to be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives. Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the conference committee, secured several key Colorado priorities in the final bill. The conference report is expected to be approved by the conference committee, and a vote in the House of Representatives could occur later this week followed by final approval in the Senate.

"Reaching this long overdue bipartisan agreement to fix No Child Left Behind is a significant step toward helping teachers and schools ensure our kids are receiving a great education," Bennet said. "The updates to this law roll back NCLB's massive federal overreach, while maintaining its core strengths. There are teachers and kids all over Colorado and the country working as hard as they can to teach and to learn. It's time Congress does its job to provide them with the support they need to succeed."

As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Bennet played a significant role in writing the Senate-passed bill. The final bill includes a number of provisions he secured based on input from Colorado, including:

State-Driven Accountability Systems: Reducing the prescriptive, top-down approach of No Child Left Behind; re-empowering states to design accountability systems that maintain statewide annual testing requirements and break down data to identify achievement gaps; ensuring English learners are included in state accountability systems; and requiring states to at least identify the bottom five percent of low-performing schools and make necessary changes to improve achievement at these schools

Improving Equity and Addressing Inequalities: Including provisions to promote equity, address inequities and help ensure high-need schools can attract and retain great teachers and leaders by improving their support systems; including a new reporting requirement to increase transparency on the resources schools receive and to identify inequities in funding; providing flexibility to spend federal funding on early childhood education; and provisions encouraging teacher leadership, residency programs, and improvements to district human capital systems

Encouraging Innovation to Meet Challenges in Schools: Securing incentives for educators on the ground to apply their own creative thinking to address our most persistent education challenges; including funding for innovative practices to improve student achievement; revamping the Charter School Program; and allowing pay-for-success initiatives

Supporting Rural Schools: Securing a package of provisions to better support schools in rural communities; providing technical assistance to rural school districts when applying for competitive federal grants; and clarifying that rural school districts or education service agencies, like a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), can join together and submit a single consolidated application for funding under ESEA

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