The Student Success Act (H.R. 5) passed the House Education and Workforce committee along a party-line vote on Wednesday evening, with all republicans voting in favor of the bill and all democrats opposed. The approximately eight and a half hour mark-up of the bill included two hours of remarks by various members and then a total of 25 amendments, debate, and votes.
The democrats on the committee lead by Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) offered a substitute amendment to replace H.R. 5 that was voted down on a party line. NASSP supported the Scott substitute, and opposed H.R. 5. NASSP joined forces with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the American Federation of School Administrators to issue this letter earlier in the week expressing our concerns with the Student Success Act.
Throughout the mark-up, democrats consistently raised objections about the lack of bipartisanship, hearings, and inclusion of protections for high-need students in the ESEA reauthorization proposal by Chairman Kline (R-MN). Republicans retorted that H.R. 5 has been around for years and that the bill provides more freedom and flexibility for states and districts to meet the educational needs of students.
H.R. 5 is now expected to get floor time the week of February 23. On the Senate side, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are in negotiations to see if they can produce a bipartisan bill that can pass out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and get to the Senate floor in early spring.
As for the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) that was reported out of committee, four republican amendments were added to the bill. All the democratic amendments that were offered failed along party-line votes. There were two amendments that received bipartisan support—an amendment offered by Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) that would require the disaggregated reporting of military student achievement data and an amendment by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) that would change English language learner accountability requirements on math assessments from one year to two years and accountability on reading assessments from one year to three years. This amendment received support from his fellow Floridian, Rep. Fredericka Wilson (D-FL). You can review all amendments on the House Education and Workforce website.
The other two amendments that were added to the bill were the addition of an annual study from the Institute of Education Science on the reduced federal role in education due to H.R. 5 and to recommend further funding reductions and Rep. Steve Russell’s (R-OK) amendment that would protect student and teacher privacy by only allowing data collected at the local level to be sent to the U.S. Secretary of Education in the aggregate. During debate, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) expressed concern about how the amendment was written and that it would limit the ability of data collected to be able to better inform and personalize pedagogy and instruction to students.
Of concern to NASSP and many education advocates was the introduction of an amendment by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) to allow Title I funds to pay for private school tuition, effectively creating a federal school voucher program. Fortunately, Rep. Messer withdrew his amendment for consideration but we expect portability and voucher amendments to resurface during the floor debate and vote of H.R. 5.
NASSP looks forward to working with both the House and the Senate to ensure that the needs of students, schools, teachers, and principals are met with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).