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Gary P.
Democrat MI

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  • Every Student Succeeds Act

    by Senator Gary Peters

    Posted on 2015-12-09

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    PETERS. Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    I am pleased that the Senate was able to come together on a bipartisan basis to pass meaningful education reform, and I commend Senator Murray and Senator Alexander for their leadership on this bill.

    I would like to speak about three things this bill does that I strongly support and that I believe are of particular importance. First, the bill supports financial literacy programming. Family financial literacy programming can ensure that our Nation's parents and children have the skills necessary to properly utilize credit, finance an education, manage a household budget, and plan for retirement. I believe that we must do all we can to help our Nation's parents and students succeed in every aspect of their lives.

    Second, the Every Student Succeeds Act addresses the lack of data on dual status youth--children who come into contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Many at-risk children lack stable home lives, and they are frequently funneled through the school-to- prison pipeline. I was happy to work with the chairman and ranking member to include language in the bill that will help us identify and assist our most vulnerable youth.

    Finally, I was happy to join Senator Gardner in introducing language that will begin to help schools address the dual enrollment availability gap by enabling high schools to expand access to such programs using title I funding. I applaud the bill's focus on dual enrollment and early/middle college programs. At a time when student debt is crushing young Americans' economic prospects, dual enrollment and early/middle college programs allow high school students to begin earning college credit by taking college-level courses either at their school, online or through a local higher education institution. These models improve access to college while reducing degree completion time and tuition costs.

    Findings from the ACT's most recent ``Condition of College and Career Readiness'' report suggest that many students are ready for dual enrollment programs. Forty-two percent of the most recent cohort of high school graduates who took the ACT test were ready for college- level mathematics. Nearly 30 percent were college ready in all four subject areas: English, reading, mathematics, and science.

    Unfortunately, hurdles to assessing dual enrollment are particularly pronounced for low-income students who also face the greatest obstacles to college completion. After participating in these programs, many students who may not have planned on attending college realize their potential and go on to attain higher levels of education. A recent study found that dual and concurrent enrollment participation increases the probability of a student completing a degree by 6 percent.

    In addition to a Gardner-Peters amendment, the Every Student Succeeds Act includes several other provisions that support dual enrollment and early/middle college programs. The bill supports professional development for teachers, principals, and other school leaders, focused on building their capacity to deliver dual or concurrent enrollment opportunities.

    Additionally, States and school districts will be able to use resources provided through the student support and academic enrichment grants to improve students' access to dual enrollment programs, either online or in person. These policy improvements will make an incredible difference for the Nation's students.

    There are a number of Senators who support dual enrollment and early/ middle college programs, and I plan on introducing legislation to support dual enrollment and early/middle college programs in the near future.

    My legislation would amend the Higher Education Act to expand access to dual and concurrent enrollment programs as well as early/middle college programs that enable students to earn college credit while in high school. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming months to expand access to these programs.

    Again, I applaud the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    I yield the floor.


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