Bonamici Provisions Included in Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Public Education

Nov 19, 2015 Issues: Education

WASHINGTON, DC [11/19/15] – Today, provisions authored by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) to reduce testing in schools and support interdisciplinary educational programs were included in a bipartisan bill to strengthen public education. Congresswoman Bonamici served on the select panel of House and Senate members that negotiated a bill to replace the No Child Left Behind Act and write new K-12 education policies.

“One of the primary reasons I came to Congress was to strengthen public education in our country, and it was an honor to serve on the bicameral, bipartisan conference committee to replace the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “This process was a reminder of what Congress can accomplish when we come together, set differences aside, and find common ground. The agreement reached today removes the one-size-fits-all mandates of No Child Left Behind and gives more control and flexibility to states and school districts. The agreement also puts in place meaningful provisions to make sure students in every community receive a high-quality education. Like any compromise, the agreement isn’t perfect but it represents a significant improvement for Oregon’s and our nation’s schools.”

Congresswoman Bonamici successfully included a provision in the bill to help states and school districts audit their testing systems and eliminate redundant or unnecessary tests. The Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act also provides states and local education agencies with support to improve their use of assessment data, which could include providing more time for educators to design instruction based on test results and speeding the delivery of test data to students and families.

“Educators, parents, and students are rightly concerned that test scores are over-emphasized in our classrooms,” continued Congresswoman Bonamici. “My commonsense provision to streamline testing in schools will allow teachers to focus more of their time on teaching and helping students succeed. Well-designed assessments can inform instruction and help monitor growth, but many don’t meet this standard. I developed this bipartisan proposal to give states and school districts resources to identify and eliminate ineffective assessments and make better use of those assessments that remain.”

During the final negotiations this week, Congresswoman Bonamici successfully added an amendment to support schools that provide a well-rounded education to students through programs that integrate academic subjects, such as arts and music, into STEM courses. Congresswoman Bonamici is the co-chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus, which advocates for educational programs that integrate the arts and teach students creative thinking in addition to technical skills.

“Employers across Oregon tell me they need a workforce with more than technical skills; they value people who can propose new ideas and identify new ways to solve problems,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “Integrating arts into STEM can help educate both halves of the brain and prepare students for success in a world that values a well-rounded and innovative workforce.”

The bill approved by the conference committee today will reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It now heads to the House and Senate for final passage before being sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

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