Summary and Critique of Key Provisions in Harkin-Enzi ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization Bill of October 2011

Summary and Critique of Key Provisions in Harkin-Enzi ESEA/NCLB
Reauthorization Bill of October 2011

FairTest review, analysis – summary and critique notes, October 16, 2011

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) will meet on Weds. October 19 to begin debating and making changes to a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). “The Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011” was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin,( D-IA), chair of with backing from HELP Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY). No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the current version of ESEA which the Harkin-Enzi bill would replace.

The bill has many dangerous provisions and is, overall, about as bad as NCLB. FairTest believes Congress should go back to the drawing board and completely overhaul NCLB, not expand testing and shift sanctions from mainly schools to mainly teachers but also to the lowest scoring five percent of schools, ones that mostly serve our lowest-income students.
FairTest has reviewed the legislation and offers these notes as a guide to help you understand it beyond the headline level. We present short papers that summarize key components of primary sections and offer basic FairTest reactions to them. Our comments are often in [brackets] to set them off. The bill text is presented with quotations around the new language; here we’ve tried to maintain those quotations (but did not with Definitions).

  1. Purpose; State and Local Requirments (Title I, Secs. 1001, 1111), covering standards, assessments, accountability, and state plans.
  2. School performance (Title I, Sec. 1116), including what happens to the ‘bottom five percent’ and schools with the widest score gaps.
  3. Continuous Improvement and Support For Teachers And Principals (Title II, Part A); includes Teacher and Principal Evaluation Systems (which are mandated in Title I, Sec 1111, described in Title II) .
  4. Grants for State Assessments and Related Activities (Sec. 1131); may provide some funds for innovative assessments, but actually spending money that way seems like a long shot.
  5. Definitions (Sec. 9101) – Spells out what terms like “student growth” really means: it is all about the tests.

This analysis is based on a version of the bill introduced on October 6 and found at; a revised version is to be released October 18, and that version will be “marked up” starting October 19. Thus, page numbers and section numbers will change as the bill moves along. We will endeavor to inform people of major changes, and to update our analysis when and if a bill is approved by the Committee and forwarded to the Senate. We apologize for roughness in presentation any inaccuracies (which we think will be at worst minor).

ESEA-Harkin_plan_-_1116_school_accountability_-_mn_notes_and_excerpts.pdf150.29 KB
ESEA-Harkin-Enzi_-_Oct_2011_-_Sec_1111_-_standards-assessments-accountability-_state_plans.pdf161.26 KB
ESEA-HarkiEnzi-_-_definitions_9109_p_748.pdf143.76 KB
ESEA-Harkin_-_other_state_assessment_grants_-_1122.pdf136.76 KB
ESEA_-_Harkin_-Title_II_-_continuous_improvement_for_teachers_and_principals_-_p_190.pdf219.06 KB