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House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Public Education; Includes Provisions by Bonamici

December 2, 2015
Press Release

Congresswoman Served on Conference Committee for New Law to Replace No Child Left Behind

WASHINGTON, DC [12/02/15] – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bill to replace No Child Left Behind and write new K-12 education policies. Provisions authored by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) to reduce testing in schools and support interdisciplinary educational programs are included in the bipartisan bill to strengthen public education.

Congresswoman Bonamici, a member of the House Education Committee, also served on the select panel of House and Senate members that reconciled the differences between education bills passed by both the House and Senate earlier this year. The Every Student Succeeds Act now heads to the Senate for final passage before being sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed 50 years ago, it was a monumental achievement in promoting equity for all students. Today, we honored that legacy by replacing the flawed No Child Left Behind with policies that will strengthen public education in our country,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “I’ve spoken with students, educators, parents, and school board members who have been waiting for this day for a long time, and I am glad my colleagues and I have finally reached agreement on a new education law. No Child Left Behind placed too much emphasis on one-size-fits-all mandates and resulted in too much high-stakes testing.

“Thanks to the leadership of Chairman John Kline and Ranking Member Bobby Scott, we passed a bill that will return flexibility to states and school districts to design accountability systems and interventions that meet the needs of their schools. Importantly, the Every Student Succeeds Act maintains focus on closing achievement gaps and promoting equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students. The bill requires action in any school where subgroups of students—including English learners, students with disabilities, and low-income students—are lagging behind.

“After hearing concerns from students and teachers about the need for fewer, better assessments, I am pleased that the Every Student Succeeds Act includes a bipartisan provision I authored with Republican Congressman Ryan Costello to help school districts eliminate unnecessary testing. The bill also improves STEM learning by encouraging the incorporation of arts and design. A well-rounded education that teaches our students to think creatively is good for their futures and good for the innovation economy.”

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.

During the final negotiations, Congresswoman Bonamici successfully added an amendment to support schools 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.

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