The Obama Administration recently released its Blueprint for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), formerly reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act. The Blueprint sets forth the Administration’s vision for the reauthorization of the ESEA. While no formal bill has been introduced as of yet, the Administration is hopeful that the reauthorization of the ESEA will be completed this year.

The Blueprint focuses on five key priorities: 1) college and career ready students; 2) great teachers and leaders in every school; 3) equity and opportunity for all students; 4) raising the bar and rewarding excellence; and 5) promoting innovation and continuous improvement. The Blueprint lays out various initiatives and goals for the ESEA reauthorization, including the following:

  • Setting a goal for all students to graduate or to be on track to graduate ready for college and a career by 2020;
  • Asking states to adopt college-and-career ready standards in English language arts and mathematics;
  • Rewarding states, districts and schools that improve outcomes and close achievement gaps;
  • Requiring states to identify “challenge” schools in need of specific assistance (i.e., the lowest performing five percent of schools in each state and schools not closing significant, persistent achievement gaps) and requiring districts to implement turnaround models and/or data-driven interventions in these schools;
  • Giving the states control of how Title I funding is spent in the bottom five percent of schools who do not demonstrate improvement within three years;
  • Requiring states to adopt statewide definitions of “effective teacher,” “effective principal,” “highly effective teacher” and “highly effective principal” based on student growth and other measures, such as classroom observations;
  • Providing competitive grants for states and districts to implement ambitious reforms to recruit and retain effective teachers;
  • Providing formula grants to help states and districts implement high-quality language instruction educational programs for English Language Learners and requiring states to establish new criteria to ensure consistent statewide identification of students as English Language Learners;
  • Improving the way funds are targeted to serve homeless students by allocating funds on the basis of counts of homeless students rather than by shares of Title I allocations; and Providing competitive grants to states and school districts to take on ambitious and competitive reforms (modeled after the Race to the Top program).

According to Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, the Blueprint would hold all states, districts and schools accountable for achieving student performance results, while giving districts and schools flexibility in determining how to achieve those results, rather than prescribing specific interventions and strategies