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House Committee Advances Key Education Bill

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The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today advanced marquee legislation rewriting the nation's K-12 education law to support more effective teachers, empower parents and affirm states' authority over education policy decisions.

H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, seeks several reforms to current education law, including reining in the federal government's intrusive and burdensome role in schools. U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), a bill co-sponsor, said reducing the federal footprint in education is in the best interest of students.

"We need excellent teachers in every classroom and inspired administrators in every school," Rep. Roby said. "But even the most gifted educators can be hamstrung by unrealistic federal mandates and bureaucratic red tape. This top-down, Washington-knows-best approach to education isn't working. It's time to get Washington out of the way and return control over education policy to state and local leaders.

"I was proud to vote to advance the Student Success Act and get one step closer to passing this important legislation. Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) have shown great leadership and discernment in crafting legislation that truly reflects the needs of our students, teachers and parents."

Reducing the federal footprint in education has been a priority for Rep. Roby, who promoted the cause in standalone legislation, the Defending State Authority Over Education Act. State leaders and education advocates throughout Alabama have recently spoken out in favor of Congressional action to stop the coercive influence of the U.S. Department of Education.

Upon introduction of her standalone bill, Rep. Roby said she hoped to see the legislative language once again included in the overall education reauthorization and reform bill [video]. The state authority language is located within Section 467 of H.R. 5, which can be found on page 467 of the bill [bill text].

Additional reforms included in the Student Success Act of 2013 are:

* Returning responsibility for student achievement to local leaders
The Student Success Act repeals the burdensome Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and replaces it with state-determined accountability systems, thereby returning authority for measuring student performance to states and local school districts.

* Consolidating federal government programs
The Student Success Act consolidates myriad existing K-12 education programs into a new Local Academic Flexible Grant, which provides funding to states and school districts to support local priorities that improve student achievement.

* Supporting local efforts to measure teacher effectiveness
The bill repeals federal "Highly Qualified Teacher" requirements and directs states and districts to develop teacher evaluation systems that measure an educator's influence on student learning. Under the Student Success Act, these evaluations must be locally developed and implemented within broad parameters that factor in student achievement, incorporate multiple measures, and include feedback from all stakeholders.

* Creating funding flexibility
Instead of having to comply with a host of federal program requirements dictating exactly how special funds may be spent, under the Student Success Act, state and local officials will be able to use federal funds to meet their own unique needs. While school districts will not be allowed to use Title I funds outside of those schools, they can move additional funding to low-income schools.

* Encouraging parental involvement
The Student Success Act maintains the current requirement that states and school districts issue and distribute annual report cards, but streamlines the data reporting to ensure meaningful information is easily available to parents and communities, and includes a provision that nothing in the law should be interpreted to impact state laws on parent exercise of authority over low-performing schools.

The Student Success Act of 2013, which is sponsored by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN), is expected to be up for a vote before the whole House sometime this summer.

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