Join Fellow LaTEACH Members!
Your U.S. Senator needs to hear your thoughts on the Re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)!
February 24, 2015

Congress is considering a much needed change to the main federal education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The bill titled, "Every Child Ready for College and Career Act of 2015" has some significant changes from the existing law, and also maintains some major areas in education.

The full Senate in Congress is expected to vote on this bill this week.  Please contact your U.S. Senator to let them know your thoughts on the changes being proposed.

The main changes that directly impact students with disabilities are how standards and tests are determined at the federal level.  In general, the Every Child Ready for College and Career Act of 2015 would shift authority away from the federal government and toward the state and local systems in defining standards and assessments, and how schools should be evaluated and what actions should be taken with schools who need assistance.  Since the bill covers so much ground here are a number of issues that may also indirectly impact students with disabilities. See the summary below of the major changes being proposed by H.R. 5:

Standards and Tests
States will still have academic standards and test students in 3rd through 8th grades and in high school.   In general, there will be more state and local control over things like which standards and tests to use; however, H.R. 5 states that academic standards must be aligned with college readiness. Given the reduced federal role in defining the standards it does not seem the singular definition of success (i.e., college ready) will be as threatening to students who are below proficiency.  Most students with disabilities across the nation score below proficiency on standardized tests. 

The definition of proficiency is based, in part, on a comparison of how all students perform. So defining the academic success, or failure, of students with disabilities using standardized tests essentially defines many students as failing based on the student having a disability. What does this mean for graduation requirements? Nothing.  Federal law does not indicate requirements toward graduation - there is not a U.S. high school diploma.  Graduation requirements are local decisions since teachers award the credits necessary for earning a high school diploma.

School and Teacher Accountability
Schools and teachers will still be evaluated based on how well students perform on statewide assessments.  States, not the federal government, will now determine appropriate actions with schools deemed to need assistance.  

Charter Schools and Choice
H.R. 5 seeks to increase the number of charter schools and increase the choice of students below poverty with attending public schools outside of their residential school district.  Federal funds for students in poverty, called Title I funds, would be allowed to follow a child to a different public school. This shift in funding is significant. The current funding formula addresses the compounding impact poverty levels have on a school. Think of the difference in impact on whether every student in a school is living below the poverty line compared to a school with only one student living below the poverty line. To make up for differences in resources for poverty related issues, schools with very high concentrations of students in poverty receive more funding than do schools with lower concentrations of students in poverty. Some concerns have been raised about this change making it more difficult for a school district to send resources to schools most in need. 

H.R. 5 relaxes some of the requirements to spend the same amount of money on some programs, called maintenance-of-effort.  Some analyses indicate that this may divert existing money in poor school districts into more wealthy school districts.
Important Information
What To Do?

Send your thoughts on the re-authorization to ESEA to:


U.S. Senator David Vitter

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D.

Any questions?
If there are any questions about the information in this alert, contact LaTEACH at:
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Phone: 1-800-450-8108
Phone: 1-800-894-6558

LaTEACH is an initiative of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council.