Bennet, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Fix 'No Child Left Behind'

Includes Several Bennet Initiatives, Including Colorado Growth Model and GREAT Act

Reauthorizes ESEA with Tools to Drive Reform at State, Local Levels 

Washington, DC – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today joined his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to introduce a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) Act and fix No Child Left Behind. The Strengthening America’s Schools Act seeks to ensure that all of America’s children graduate college- and career-ready.

Among the many initiatives Bennet included in the bill are aspects of the Colorado Growth Model which he helped develop as Superintendent at the Denver Public Schools. The provision gives local districts flexibility to implement measures that more accurately track student progress. The provision is based on the Growth to Excellence Act that Bennet joined Senator Mark Udall and Representative Jared Polis to introduce earlier this year.

The bill also includes Bennet’s Growing Education Achievement Training Academies (GREAT) Teachers and Principals Act, which would support new kinds of teacher and principal training academies that have rigorous admissions selection processes, emphasize clinical instruction and tie graduation to improving student academic achievement.

“If we want our kids and grandkids to succeed in the 21st century economy, we need to provide a quality education system that will prepare them to become the next generation’s inventors, doctors, engineers, educators, or whatever profession they choose to enter,” Bennet, the former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, said. “We’re not going to fix public education from Washington, but we can drive reform at the local level that will give every child a chance at a quality education no matter what zip code they are born into. This bill is a good beginning toward achieving that goal, and I hope we can get good input from our colleagues on both sides of the aisle through what should be a full and transparent markup.”

This bill provides a framework empowering local districts to prepare all children to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills to achieve success in college and a career. It will establish a partnership that recognizes the flexibility that states and districts need to implement their own accountability systems as well as interventions to improve schools. The bill enables states and districts to focus on turning around chronically struggling schools and those with significant achievement gaps.

Along with the Colorado Growth Model and GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, Bennet also secured several other initiatives to help improve student achievement based on the implementation of reforms already taking place in Colorado, including:

  • A measure to close the comparability loophole that often results in low-income schools subsidizing their more affluent counterparts as well as prevents Title I funds from meeting their intended purpose,
  • A grant program similar to Bennet’s English Learning and Innovation Act that would help ensure that English language learners have access to high-quality instruction that enables them to acquire English and prepare for college, career, and beyond,
  • A provision to establish ARPA-ED, an education research program based on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which would invest in research and development of new uses of technology in education and would help drive innovation in the classroom,
  • Elements of the Lead Act, which Bennet introduced in 2011, to improve our systems for recruiting, preparing and supporting effective principals in high-need and rural schools,
  • Bennet’s Achievement Through Prevention Act, a bill Bennet introduced last Congress that would allow schools to implement “Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS)” using Title I funds. PBIS has proven to enhance academic and behavioral outcomes for all students by identifying and helping children who need targeted intervention,
  • A Commission on Effective Regulation and Assessment Systems for Public Schools, based on a bill Bennet introduced last Congress with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), that would examine the regulations and assessment systems for public schools under the new reauthorization of ESEA to ensure a streamlined system of federal, state, and local regulations and promote the use of effective assessments to measure student achievement and teacher and principal effectiveness.

HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin announced the committee would markup the bill next week.