UPDATED: AASA Endorses House ESEA Bill (HR5)

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This post has been updated to reflect AASA's response to the amendments under consideration in conjunction with HR5.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association sent a letter to the House of Representatives expressing our support for the Student Success Act (HR5). HR5 is the House proposal to reauthorize ESEA, now more than 7 years past due for reauthorization. You can also read our letter in response to the amendments under consideration.

AASA members have long prioritized ESEA reauthorization. While HR5 is not perfect, it gets far more right than it gets wrong, and moving an imperfect bill out of the House with room for improvement in conference is a better option than defeating a bill and with it, any hopes (however slim they remain) for reauthorization this Congress.

Some context:

AASA  opposed No Child Left Behind since the legislation was introduced, citing the law’s federal overreach, punitive measures, assumption that federal government knows best what local schools need, and unworkable mandates and requirements. More than a decade of NCLB implementation has demonstrated the problems AASA predicted, and has highlighted how current law relies on ineffective, costly requirements rather than supporting and trusting public school leaders to improve student outcomes.  Congress must address the shortcomings of current law.   AASA strongly believes that reauthorization is crucial to providing the nation’s schools with relief from current law, which is both broken and lacking in the flexibility states and local school districts need to support student learning and achievement. 

As ESEA reauthorization efforts enter their eighth year, AASA’s position remains the same: We strongly support and prefer complete reauthorization of ESEA as the best and most meaningful way to provide relief from the broken and outdated constructs of current law to all students and all schools. We remain opposed to the continued use of, existence of, and reliance on ESEA waivers in place of complete reauthorization. We urge Congress to work together to advance a bipartisan bill that can pass to and through the President’s desk, ultimately delivering a much needed modernization of ESEA to the nation’s schools and the students they serve. 

As a starting point for discussions to reauthorize ESEA, HR5 is a strong step in the right direction because it restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education. HR5 takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription and places it more squarely in the area of state and local expertise and autonomy. The bill recognizes the importance of empowering state and local leaders to use their professional knowledge and proximal location to make the decisions necessary to successfully adhere to their educational missions.  HR5 makes significant improvements in the federal role in accountability, standards and assessments that AASA supports. These improvements include:

Maintain student disaggregation by subgroup

Eliminate the 100 percent proficiency mandate

Eliminate SES/Choice 

Eliminate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO)

Return ownership of the accountability system to the state/local level

Maintain school improvement for low performing schools, under state direction

Require that assessments measure proficiency and  growth models 

Remove caps on alternate assessments, allowing the IEP team to ensure that children are assessed in a meaningful, fair and accurate manner

Maintain supplement/supplant language      

Reduce federal overreach into school improvement/turnaround strategies

Put states in charge of designing a teacher evaluation system

Eliminate requirements related to Highly Qualified Teacher provisions

Provide option for 5-, 6-, and 7-year graduation rates. 

Reauthorization of the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP)




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