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With White House Backing, Senate Overturns ESSA Accountability Rules

The Senate on Thursday voted 50-49 to block the accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act created by the Obama administration. 

Without the rules, the requirements for accountability and state plans will be found in the language of ESSA itself. The Obama-era accountability rules, finalized late last year, set ground rules for how schools must be rated for school-improvement purposes, specified the requirements of (and flexibility for) states dealing with high testing opt-out rates in individual schools, and outlined how states would have to handle the “school quality” indicator in accountability systems.

The rollback measure was introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate education committee, and had nine other Republican co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Last month’s similar House measure was introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the chairman of the House subcommittee dealing with elementary and secondary education. 

Earlier the same day, the Senate also followed the House’s lead by voting to overturn separate Obama-era rules governing teacher-preparation programs.