Melissa Mellor

ASCD Releases 2013 Legislative Agenda

ASCD's 2013 Legislative Agenda (PDF) urges Congress to immediately reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replace it with a comprehensive rewrite that fixes the current law's flaws; aligns with and supports state and local initiatives; and guides revisions to other federal programs, such as special education and career and technical education.

Now 11 years old and five years overdue for revision, the No Child Left Behind Act's problematic provisions combined with its practical obsolescence have led to a patchwork of temporary solutions, such as the Obama administration's state waivers, which are neither ideal nor lasting. The law's reauthorization would provide needed stability and a long-term vision for our education system.

The legislative agenda, developed by ASCD members and recently released at ASCD's Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy (LILA) in Washington, D.C., offers three key policy recommendations to Congress as part of any ESEA reauthorization. Together, the recommendations advance the goal of educating students who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, and who graduate ready for the demands of college, careers, and citizenship.

  1. Support meaningful accountability systems that determine student proficiency, school quality, and educator effectiveness by tracking student growth, differentiating among performance levels, and using multiple evaluation measures beyond standardized test scores.
  2. Promote comprehensive improvement strategies that engage all stakeholders and are grounded in a whole child approach to education that addresses each student's social, emotional, physical, and academic needs. Interventions for those who do not meet expectations need to be commensurate with their level of performance. And districts and schools that consistently perform well, close achievement gaps, succeed in cohort comparisons, or improve educator effectiveness should receive rewards and incentives, including the flexible use of federal funds.
  3. Help educators support students through adequate and effective preparation and ongoing professional development. In addition, teacher and administrator evaluations must drive high-quality professional development opportunities that build district and school capacity; enhance classroom management, planning, and preparation; and address effective instructional practices and subject-area content consistent with standards that prepare students for college and careers.

The legislative agenda outlines the association's policy priorities for the year and provides the starting point for informing and responding to policy proposals related to ESEA reauthorization as well as other legislative initiatives that affect children, educators, and schools. But these recommendations are only as powerful as the educators who advocate for them. Congress will not act unless its constituents persuasively highlight the consequences of further delaying reauthorization and clearly explain how the law must be fixed.

As part of LILA, ASCD educator advocates from across the country delivered this message to their federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Now it's your turn. We ask you to build on their work by sharing the 2013 Legislative Agenda (PDF) with your colleagues and elected officials. And, during the coming months, watch for ASCD messages that highlight opportunities for targeted action aligned with the legislative agenda's priorities. Your schools; colleagues; and, most importantly, students depend on your action.

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