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Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments, Part I

April 18, 2015

On April 16, 2015, the Senate education committee approved the Alexander-Murray draft of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), a 601-page document entitled, The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

The draft approval was accompanied by 29 amendments, which can be found on this Senate ed page.

I reviewed the entire original 601-page Alexander-Murray draft in a series of six posts that can be accessed here.

In this post, I begin my review of the 29 amendments with the first 10. (I will review the remainder in subsequent posts.)

I am reviewing the amendments in alphabetical order by file name. Below each file link is my review for that particular amendment.

Here we go:


Sixteen pages long. Adds Section 1202: “Grants for Enhanced Assessment Instruments”

States that apply for this grant under Title I (amount to be “not less than $1,500,000 per fiscal year) can use the money to develop assessments aligned with their “challenging State standards”; these assessments can be those designed for “measuring student progress or academic growth over time, including multiple measures,” or “comprehensive academic assessment instruments” which can include “computer adaptive assessments, and portfolios, projects, or extended performance task assessments.”

This grant comes with requirement of a publicly-available audit of the state and local assessment systems, including examination of “the purpose for which the assessment was designed and the purpose for which the assessment is used, including assessments designed to contribute to systems of improvement of teaching and learning” (pg. 6). This is not a mandate for states to use student tests to measure teachers. The language does not assume that assessment design and usage are one and the same, and it is possible for this publicly-available audit to detect states using tests designed to measure student achievement as wrongly being used to assess teacher performance.

States must also provide information on the state laws mandating the state’s assessments; the time it takes to disseminate results, assessment costs, and assessment schedules.

Local education agencies (LEAs) using this grant money (as such is passed from state to LEA) must also conduct publicly-available audits of their assessment systems.

The audits require an opportunity for education stakeholder feedback, which is to include the extent to which assessment data are made readily available; time spent on test prep and time spent on administering assessments.

Based upon the complete audit (including education stakeholder feedback), each state must submit a plan to the US secretary for improving the state assessment system, which might include cutting unnecessary assessments by buying out the testing contract (if necessary), reducing time between assessment administration and dissemination of results– and which might include eliminating assessments “used for accountability purposes” and that are not valid and reliable and that are inconsistent with nationally recognized professional and technical standards” (pg. 10).

The remainder of this amendment includes revision of some details of the federal government’s funding of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The total per-state funding for NAEP will remain at at least $3 million per fiscal year.


This one-page amendment requires that state report cards include information on “the number and percentages of students attaining career and technical proficiencies.”


This six-page amendment to Title IV includes grants available to states for improvement of physical education programs in grades K through 4, including potentially addressing development of students’ social skills and healthy eating habits. Students of private, nonprofit schools and home schooled students may be served by such grants.


This 25-page amendment is for states to apply technology-readiness grants.  (The file is named as Title V, but it seems the file is misnamed.) These grants can be used for professional development, online or “blended” learning in rural areas, dual enrollment courses (in which high school students can earn college credits), and to ensure that states, LEAs, and schools “have technological capacity, infrastructure, and technological support” (pg. 3) and includes possibly funding “eligible technology,” such as “modern computer, and communication technology software, services, or tools, including computer or mobile devices, software applications, systems or platforms, and digital learning content, and related services and supports” (pg. 4).

The exact funding will vary, but states are expected to match federal amounts by 10 percent. The secretary may waive the matching requirement “for hardship reasons” (pg. 8).

State applications must include information on how technology will be used “to ensure all students achieve college and career readiness and digital literacy” (pg. 9). Also, each state must first administer a “technology readiness survey” (pg. 9) to determine state technology needs.

States must show proof of consultation with LEAs in the development of the technology grant application.

State applications must also include “an assurance that the State educational agency will protect the privacy and safety of students and teachers” (pg. 10) in keeping with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and section 445 of the General Education Provisions Act.

Under the terms of this grant, states cannot require LEAs to participate in any type of purchasing consortia (pg. 16). This prohibition prevents states from making business deals in which it promises LEA participation.

There are stipulations for states using the federal grant money to offer subgrants to LEAs to guard against states’ trying to spread federal technology funds too thin.

This amendment includes no state or local reporting requirement of student data to the federal government.


This two-page amendment requires states “to evaluate the need to upgrade or change” the state system for collecting local data “and to provide additional support to help minimize the burden on local education agencies related to reporting data required for the annual State report card… and the annual local education agency report cards….”

This amendment requires no delivery of student data to the federal government. The state and local report cards are for the public to view (see pages 38 and 39 of the initial Senate ESEA draft).


This two-page amendment concerns states’ providing opportunities “for teachers to grow as leaders, including hybrid roles that allow teachers to voluntarily serve as mentors or academic coaches while remaining in the classroom.”

There is no mention of intent to lighten one’s teaching load to provide time during the school day for this additional “career opportunity.”


This single-page amendment adds examples of how LEAs might spend Title IV money, for programs “such as financial literacy and Federal financial aid awareness efforts.”


This three-page amendment adds language directing the secretary to reach out to rural local education agencies for applying for ESEA money, and that the secretary shall provide technical assistance to such rural local education agencies for applying for any ESEA money. Finally, LEAs are allowed to form a consortium to apply for ESEA money. (In other words, the LEAs need not apply individually for this grant money.)


Title V is the act to expand charter schools. This five-page amendment to Title V adds a section on grants for research “for development, implementation, replication, or scaling and rigorous testing of entrpreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-needs students”(pg. 2). The grants would be available at three levels: early-phase, mid-phase, and expansion. The secretary is to ensure that rural areas receive ” (pg. 3) not less than 25 percent of funds” in noted rural areas.

The point of these grants is to encourage research for charters as specifically serving high needs students– a subgroup of students test-score-driven charters are not known for serving in the same proportions as do the traditional public schools.

This should be interesting.


So. That takes care of 10 out of the 29 accepted amendments for the Senate, Alexander-Murray ESEA reauthorization draft that was approved by the Senate ed committee on April 16, 2015.

My second installment will come soon.


US Senate Ed Committee


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.

CC book cover

  1. So bottom line is the federal government will be monitoring and approving everything we do. Common Core will remain in place because it must. BOOKS-GED-SAT-ACT-PISA-AP all being aligned with CC. And it is also very apparent their ultimate goal is to do away with traditional public schools and replace them with Charters which also means the elimination of elected schools boards. This beast gets uglier everyday. Grants for private and home school for PE, social skills and good eating habits? They take one penny and they will have to adhere to all the federal regulations. Just shoot me.

  2. Linda permalink


    What about how Arne gutted FERPA and third party vendors being considered educational agencies, is that gone via Amen 4?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments, Part II | deutsch29
  2. Ed News, Friday, April 24, 2015 Edition | tigersteach
  3. The Common Core Weekend Reads – 4-25-15 | Lady Liberty 1885

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