Politico Pro: Whiteboard Archives: Alexander to Propose Two Plans for Testing in NCLB Bill

Posted on January 13, 2015

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander will float two proposals for testing in a discussion draft of his No Child Left Behind bill Wednesday, one of which would give states significant flexibility in how they approach testing students, according to a source familiar with the discussion draft of the senator’s bill. The bill’s draft language would also give states more control in setting accountability systems under No Child Left Behind, the source said.

Under one proposal, states would be able to decide their own approach to testing — including letting schools use only district and local tests — so long as they could show that the results of the tests are comparable to each other at the state level, according to multiple sources. The second option would keep testing requirements more or less the same, according to multiple sources, and both plans are suggested in brackets rather than fully written into the discussion draft. The bill is, as Alexander has said it would be, quite similar to the senator’s 2013 proposal.

The draft bill reflects the conservative perspective on NCLB reauthorization: It was not negotiated with Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray or Democratic committee staff, though Murray and Alexander have talked about reauthorization multiple times. It is not a final bill, however, so there is room for negotiation with Democrats built into Alexander’s approach to rewriting the law, multiple sources noted.

The Senate HELP Committee will have its first hearing on No Child Left behind during the 114th Congress next week, on Jan. 20, and Alexander is expected to move the bill out of committee soon after.

“My hope is that in the next month we can conclude the six years of work we’ve already done on it,” Alexander said last week. The committee has had 24 hearings on No Child Left Behind in previous years, Alexander said, and most HELP Committee members are returning from the last Congress, Alexander noted.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander will float two proposals for testing in a discussion draft of his No Child Left Behind bill Wednesday, one of which would give states significant flexibility in how they approach testing students, according to a source familiar with the discussion draft of the senator’s bill. The bill’s draft language would also give states more control in setting accountability systems under No Child Left Behind, the source said.

Under one proposal, states would be able to decide their own approach to testing — including letting schools use only district and local tests — so long as they could show that the results of the tests are comparable to each other at the state level, according to multiple sources. The second option would keep testing requirements more or less the same, according to multiple sources, and both plans are suggested in brackets rather than fully written into the discussion draft. The bill is, as Alexander has said it would be, quite similar to the senator’s 2013 proposal.

The draft bill reflects the conservative perspective on NCLB reauthorization: It was not negotiated with Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray or Democratic committee staff, though Murray and Alexander have talked about reauthorization multiple times. It is not a final bill, however, so there is room for negotiation with Democrats built into Alexander’s approach to rewriting the law, multiple sources noted.

The Senate HELP Committee will have its first hearing on No Child Left behind during the 114th Congress next week, on Jan. 20, and Alexander is expected to move the bill out of committee soon after.

“My hope is that in the next month we can conclude the six years of work we’ve already done on it,” Alexander said last week. The committee has had 24 hearings on No Child Left Behind in previous years, Alexander said, and most HELP Committee members are returning from the last Congress, Alexander noted.