President Obama signs Every Student Succeeds Act

December 10, 2015

President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act during a White House ceremony on Dec. 11, 2015, flanked by Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., left, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., right.

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Calling a bipartisan bill signing a “Christmas miracle,” President Barack Obama wasted no time signing the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, titled the Every Student Succeeds Act, which the Senate had overwhelming approved less than 24 hours earlier.

The law replaces the current – and now mostly  maligned – iteration of the act, the No Child Left Behind law, or its acronym, NCLB.

“This law makes long overdue fixes to the education law, replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to reform,” Obama said. “It creates real a partnership between the states, which will have new flexibility to tailor their improvement plans, and the federal government, which will have the oversight to make sure that the plans are sound.”

The law commits states and schools, he said, to focus on “the national goal of ensuring all students graduate prepared for college and future careers” and it “requires states to invest in helping students and schools improve the lowest-performing schools and close their achievement gaps.” Obama also praised the law for  working with states to reduce the amount of standardized testing and for its commitment to early leaning. “We know that early years can make a huge difference in a child’s life, so this law lays the foundation to expand access to high-quality preschools.”

The speed at which the president signed the law was a marked contrast to the eight years of gridlock in Congress on the NCLB law since it came up for reauthorization.

However, it will be awhile before the nation’s schools are entirely out of the shadows cast by NCLB. This law only takes effect in the 2017-18 school year, and as Obama warned this morning, “now the hard work begins.”

“Laws are only as good as their implementation,” he said. “We have to make the promises of this law a reality.”

Obama pointed to progress that has been made during his administration in reducing dropout rates, increasing both high school and college graduation rates. But, he said, “We are here because we know there is a lot more work to be done. We know there are other schools that are not hitting the mark yet.

 

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