Alexander drafts ‘Every Child Ready for College or Career’ bill

The federal government’s involvement in student testing and school accountability would be greatly curtailed under draft legislation U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is circulating, reports Michael Collins. He says it’s a starting point for fixing the Bush-era No Child Left Behind school-reform law.

States would be required to set high standards to measure student achievement, but the federal government could not dictate what those standards would be or require states to submit their standards for review or approval.

Public schools would no longer have to conform to a federal mandate of yearly progress, but states would have to establish accountability systems to measure whether schools are meeting prescribed standards.

The goal of the bill, to be called the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, is to put more decisions about schools back in the hands of state and local communities, said Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who is the new chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“We’ve had a trend toward a national school board, and we need to reverse that trend and put responsibility back to states and local school districts,” Alexander said Tuesday in a speech from the Senate floor.

Alexander has made fixing the landmark No Child Left Behind law his top priority as the committee chairman. To drive home that point, the committee’s first hearing under his leadership will be next Wednesday and will focus on school testing and accountability.

“I’m ready to get started,” Alexander said.