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  • No Child Left Behind Anniversary and Every Student Succeeds Act

    by Representative Loretta Sanchez

    Posted on 2016-01-07

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    SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, Friday marks the 14th anniversary of the enactment of the No Child Left Behind legislation which, when we passed it, held so many dreams and so many aspirations for all of us because we believed that our children would get a world- class education out of that. Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind, with all its potential, fell short.

    So I think it is important that we all understand and we all believe in this Chamber that through education, we lift this Nation. It is probably the greatest investment that we can make in the American people. That is why, as lawmakers, we have to really work on the best policies for education, starting at the national level, because we now compete internationally, and, of course, at the State and at our local levels right at our school boards.

    I have been to every single school in my district in Orange County. I have [[Page H109]] met with teachers, with parents, with administrators, and with business leaders. They all had concerns with No Child Left Behind. That is why I think the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation, hopefully will fix the outdated policies of that No Child Left Behind legislation.

    The new legislation, the new law we just passed, takes into consideration the collective criticisms of the teachers, the students, parents, administrators, business leaders, and everyone who is involved in the education of our children. The ESSA has the support of many civil rights groups, teaching groups, and community institutions.

    I would like to highlight a few of the improvements our parents and students can look forward to with this new law.

    During the No Child Left Behind era, schools were not held accountable for ensuring that the most disadvantaged students actually were aided and helped to get an education. The Every Student Succeeds Act changes this. It benefits low-income students, minority students, English language learners by requiring the schools to include student data about these groups so that we can make better policy for the accountability of how these students learn.

    States are also required to create exit and entrance exams for English language learners, ensuring that they will actually receive attention in these classrooms and will learn.

    Now, Mr. Speaker, I know that we all think that there are way too many tests in life every single day, and of course it is not the favorite part of the school day to take a test. The high-stakes testing that was under No Child Left Behind has created a lot of anxiety campuswide. Teachers felt the need to teach to the test, rather than actually teach the student that critical learning that must take place in the classroom at an early age.

    My mom was a teacher. She finally got out because she got tired of teaching to the test, test, test, test. She had seven kids, and they all have master's and Ph.D.s. She was a parent teacher before she went to teach in the classroom, and she knew that students learn in different ways, that not everybody learned the same way.

    She would work with students. Some students learn verbally, some by test-taking, others by acting out plays that get across the idea. There was no time in the classroom after No Child Left Behind. It was just one way: the test, the test, the test.

    I am proud to say that high-stakes testing under the new law will no longer disadvantage our schools who don't pass those tests. There are going to be other ways, including tests, to decide whether schools, teachers, and educators are doing well by our children in the classroom. Testing students will not be the end-all of what is happening in the classrooms.

    Schools also have the flexibility to pilot innovative testing measures, allowing more time for learning in the classroom.

    I am excited about this new law, Mr. Speaker, and I hope that we continue to look at it and make sure that every child has a chance in this education system.


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