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Debating the future of No Child Left Behind

Teacher David Nieder of 'Knowledge is Power Program' (KIPP) Academy takes questions from his class October 4, 2000 in The Bronx, New York.
Teacher David Nieder of 'Knowledge is Power Program' (KIPP) Academy takes questions from his class October 4, 2000 in The Bronx, New York.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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The U.S. House decided not to vote today on a bill that would overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Supported by many House Republicans, the Student Success Act (SSA) seeks to roll back federal control over schools across the country, giving states the power to oversee school systems as they see fit.

Part of an eight-year effort to revamp former President George Bush Jr.’s NCLB, the bill would allow states to decide whether they wish to opt-out of Common Core testing benchmarks set up by the Department of Education. It would change the way that federal financial assistance is disbursed to low income families, allowing qualifying students to take funding to a school of their choice. In addition, the SSA would let states decide how much federal funding to spend on teacher training, recruitment and support.

The bill faces opposition from both sides of the political spectrum; some House Republicans argue the Act isn’t conservative enough, threatening to vote “no” unless states are given even more control over federal funds. Meanwhile, Democrats argue that the bill takes away support from low income and at-risk students and provides no accountability for federal funds.

Should states have more control over the use of federal education dollars? NCLB mandates that students take 17 tests between 3rd and 8th grade, but many state tests have added to the load. Should states be able to opt out of federal testing? What changes need to be made to NCLB?


Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, an independent policy institute

Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare.

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