Washington D.C. – As a member of the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, U.S. Senator Susan Collins released the following statement after the committee unanimously passed the “Every Child Achieves Act,” a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as "No Child Left Behind."
“I am proud to support the bipartisan "Every Child Achieves Act," a vital piece of legislation to improve our elementary and secondary education system by strengthening the traditional roles played by our local educators, communities, and states.
“Congressional action to remedy serious problems with No Child Left Behind, while preserving the valuable parts of the law, has been long overdue. The Every Child Achieves Act takes important steps in the direction of improved student performance and closing achievement gaps while providing more flexibility over how to meet the needs of students.
“It is also important that students in rural America have the same access to federal dollars as those who attend school in urban and suburban communities. Federal competitive grant programs, however, tend to favor large school districts that have the ability to apply for those grants because of these districts’ larger staffs. I am pleased that the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP), which I authored with former Senator Kent Conrad in 2002, has been extended with this bill. It provides financial assistance to small and high-poverty rural districts to help them address their unique local needs and meet federal requirements. REAP has helped to support new technology in classrooms, distance learning opportunities, and professional development activities, as well as an array of other programs that help support students and teachers in rural districts.”
In this week’s HELP Committee markup, Senator Collins offered a bipartisan amendment that would improve a pilot program to support states like Maine that are designing alternative assessment systems based on student proficiency and competency, not just traditional annual tests. The Collins-Sanders Amendment passed 22-0 and makes certain that five states will be able to participate in this pilot program and that school districts have the full five years of the program to scale up their systems statewide.
“In Maine, educators are working hard to develop high quality assessments that could not only help students learn, but also measure their growth better than the traditional testing methods mandated by the No Child Left Behind law," Senator Collins said. "I am particularly pleased that this bill includes an Innovative Assessment and Accountability pilot program, which would support states that are designing assessment systems beyond annual testing and that are focused on student growth and proficiency.”
Several other amendments cosponsored by Senator Collins passed the Committee unanimously, including support for quality after-school and summer programs through 21st Century Community Learning Center program, and literacy and arts education programming for disadvantaged students and children with disabilities.
The "Every Child Achieves Act" will now move to the full Senate for consideration.