December 9, 2015

Cassidy Supports Education Bill, Stops Common Core

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. commented on the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, which scales back the federal government’s role in education and returns the decision making power to parents, educators and state and local officials. The bipartisan legislation to replace No Child Left Behind is expected to be signed by the president this week.

As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and Chairman of the Senate Dyslexia Caucus, Dr. Cassidy helped secure language in the bill to block the Obama Administration from coercing states into adopting Common Core standards. This will forbid the federal government from intervening in a state’s education standards, curricula, and assessments through the use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or any other form of manipulation. He also secured language in the bill to improve assessment tools for identifying students with learning disabilities like dyslexia.

Dr. Cassidy offered the following statement:

“Every child deserves a quality education that fits their needs. The beginning of that quality education begins with local control. This bill stops the federal government from mandating Common Core and returns the decision making power back to the states, local schools districts, teachers and parents. It supports charter schools and gives more options to parents. It starts the conversation on how we can best help students with a learning disability like dyslexia learn to read. It empowers Louisiana parents, teachers and students—not the federal government.”

Initiatives in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015

Stops Common Core

Prohibits the U.S. Secretary of Education from coercing or incentivizing states to adopt or maintain a particular set of standards, including Common Core. The use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or other forms of manipulation to change these standards is forbidden.

Helps Students with Reading Difficulties Like Dyslexia Succeed

Creates a comprehensive center on students at risk of not attaining full literacy skills due to a disability, including dyslexia. Specifically, the comprehensive center will identify or develop free or low cost evidence-based assessment tools for identifying students at risk of not attaining full literacy skills. The center will provide families, educational agencies and schools with the evidence-based information to help students succeed. They will use an evidence-based screening assessment for early identification of such students beginning no later than kindergarten and implement evidence-based instruction designed to meet the specific needs of such students. 

Eliminates Unnecessary Assessments

Gives states more control over their assessment systems by allowing states to conduct audits of state and local assessment systems to eliminate unnecessary assessments. States can design more sensible systems that align with standards.

Maintains Access to Accelerated Learning

Covers part or all of the costs of accelerated learning examinations (AP, IB tests) for low income students, and increases the number of teachers and students in high need schools that participate in accelerated learning courses, dual enrollment programs, and early college high school courses. In 2015, 7,921 low-income students in Louisiana took AP exams and the state received $264,852 through the program for FY 2015. Many four-year colleges give students credit, advanced placement or both, on the basis of their AP exam scores, which has the estimated potential to save $1 million in tuition for low-income students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam in Louisiana.

Reauthorizes 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21stCCLC) Program

Strengthens afterschool and enrichment programs to help ensure students have a safe place for extracurricular activities. It also allows working parents to stay at work with a better peace of mind, knowing their children are in a safe place. This program is the only federal funding source supporting Louisiana’s after school programs. Currently, 22,316 low-income students in the state participate in this program.

Prioritizes Students’ Mental Health

Allows states to use funds to support local agencies to evidenced based mental health awareness training and expand access to school based mental health programs.

Gives Parents Control

Requires school districts to notify parents that they may request and the school district provides information regarding the state and school districts policy regarding student participation in any required assessments and must include a policy, procedural, or parental right to opt the child out of such assessment.

Strengthens State Control

Allows states to identify and take action in schools that are not closing achievement gaps among subgroups over time. It allows the states to determine how to do this and which schools in which to take action.