With Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act, Life After NCLB Begins
By Tim Walker
On December 10, President Obama, with a stroke of a pen, made it official: the No Child Left Behind era is over. Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), one day after it was passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate, which followed broad passage in the House last week.
The Every Student Succeeds Act is the seventh reauthorization of the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act, first passed in 1965, and the first since 2002 when NCLB became law. This reauthorization has been years in the making and suffered through several false starts, but it picked up steam in 2015 as opposition to the rigid and punitive “test and punish” regimen imposed by NCLB intensified and several education groups, including the NEA, lobbied Congress to get the job done.
“Students can’t afford to live another year under No Child Left Behind,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said repeatedly this year. Major progress was made over the summer with the passage of two separate reauthorization bills – the Every Child Achieves Act in the Senate and the Student Success Act in the House. In November, leaders from both chambers met and hammered out the compromise final bill – the Every Student Succeeds Act.