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Today an agreement was announced by leaders in Congress and a conference to hammer the differences between the Senate and House Bills will soon be set.  The target for passage is by the end of the year.

You are probably wondering what this portends?

In synopsis fashion it goes like this:

On Accountability

  • states would still have to test students in grades 3-8 and once in high school in reading and math.
  • States would get to decide how much those tests count for accountability purposes.
  • States would be in the driver’s seat when it comes to goals for schools, school ratings, and more
  • States would be required to identify and take action in the bottom 5 percent of schools, and schools where less than two-thirds of kids graduate.
  • States would also have to identify and take action in schools that aren’t closing the achievement gap.

On Opt-Outs

  • It would allow states to create their own testing opt-out laws.
  • It maintains the federal requirement for 95 percent participation in tests.
  • States would have to take low testing participation into consideration in their accountability systems. Just how to do that would be up to them, though.
  • The agreement “leaves a lot of this to states to figure out and the secretary’s ability to interfere with those state decisions is astonishingly limited.”

On Programs

  • Substitutes block granting  instead of delineated granting for physical education, mathematics and science partnerships, and Advanced Placement.
  • Living on as separate line item, will be the 21st Century Community schools program, which pays for after-school programs.
  • Early childhood investment is in. But the new program will be housed at the Department of Health and Human Services, not the Education Department.
  • The new research and innovation program that was described as the next generation “Investing in Innovation” program, made it into the bill.

On School Choice

No Title I portability—that means that federal funds won’t be able to follow the child to the school of their choice.

Other Funding Issues

  • No changes that would steer a greater share of the funds to districts with high concentrations of kids in poverty.
  • Some changes to the Title II formula (which funds teacher quality) that would be a boon to rural states.