It's called the All Students Can Achieve Act and is a new "bi-partisan" proposal to further amend the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 (NCLB). For those of you who don't know, NCLB is the "watershed" piece of legislation brought to you straight from Texas to ensure that all children and Adolescents in the United States recess an "equal" education. Supposedly, according to former Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, NLCB is the natural extension of the Brown Decision, that landmark Supreme Court case that stated that separate is inherently unequal. NCLB was supposed to ensure higher accountability with standardized testing, qualified teachers, adequate yearly progress, and research-based teaching methods. All of which, mind you, sounds great in theory. Too bad the "theory" was based upon the trumped up "Texas Miracle" and was signed into law with little or no debate.
But back to the topic at hand. This new proposal actually acknowledges what many of us have been concerned about all along: the fact that individual states can set their own proficiency levels (as high or low as they want), and as long as they make adequate yearly progress (that's AYP for those of you in-the-know), those states get their federal funding. Who cares that the funding itself rarely covers the costs of the tests the states are required to implement? Who cares that districts in distress are punished because they need help? And, who cares if states can set their expectations as high or low as they want? Instead of helping districts in need, NCLB requires these already economically strapped schools and districts to pay for additional services out of pocket. All Students can Achieve takes it one step further. Now they want track individual students and go after teachers who's students don't make AYP. Again, great in theory, lousy in practice for district with high mobility rates, or teachers who work in districts with pretty strict tracking policies. And, this of course requires us to actually believe that the tests are accurate indicators of achievement.
The other thing that is really interesting about this proposed act is that it also calls for national standards and, possibly, national tests. THAT will go over with those who support state autonomy.
You can read about the proposal here: