America Forward, New Profit's policy arm, has been actively involved in recent debate around the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the future of education and learning in America.
Last week, America Forward brought together a great group of its coalition members to meet with Members of Congress to discuss these issues and America Forward's priorities in anticipation of the full Senate taking up the Every Child Achieves Act to reauthorize ESEA later this month.
The America Forward member organizations that participated in the round of Congressional office visits included City Year, Citizen Schools, The Corps Network, KIPP, NCLD, New Teacher Center, New Leaders, Transforming Education and Turnaround for Children.
The meetings focused on bipartisan Senate leadership offices and offices of Members who sit on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, including: Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The meetings covered America Forward's innovation and accountability agenda for the Every Child Achieves Act, with particular focus on areas where the bill can be improved as it moves through Congress:
- Increase incentives and support for effective partnerships, between schools, districts, states, and high quality external partners, which would improve program performance and service delivery. We hope that any final legislation will include a clear definition of effective partnerships, ensure that external partners have access to student data, contain a strong focus on effective partnership in expanded learning time programs, and leverage national service members and community volunteers.
- Incentivize the development of personalized learning environments. We believe in the importance of developing learner-centered systems, including through the creation of personalized learning environments. We support the inclusion of the I-TECH program and would like to see greater emphasis on personalized learning in other areas of the legislation.
- Include measures of postsecondary outcomes on state and local report cards. America Forward strongly supports the inclusion of postsecondary success metrics as required elements on state and local report cards. We believe this information is critical to helping families and communities make well-informed education decisions.
- Spur innovation in the education field. We applaud the Every Child Achieves Act’s focus on field-driven innovations, and we also believe the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Education (ARPA-ED) should be authorized to pursue further innovation in education technology and learning systems.
- Ensure accountability for subgroup performance. Focus on low-performing subgroups of students within all schools, low-performing schools, and those that are slow-to-improve for the most intensive, evidence-based interventions and supports.