December 09, 2015

Wyden Lauds Final Passage of K-12 Education Bill


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., lauded today’s Senate passage of the final K-12 education bill to boost high school graduation rates in Oregon and across the country as part of the much-called-for replacement of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law.

The bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), includes a provision to help more students graduate from high school by requiring states to identify high schools with low graduation rates and ensuring those schools receive the support they need to improve. The provision is similar to one that Wyden authored and that passed the Senate in July.

“This bill focuses specifically on helping students by raising graduation rates in Oregon and across the country,” Wyden said.  “Helping teenagers stay at it and get through to graduation day is a critical step on a path to greater success throughout their lives. This approach will help expand opportunity for students no matter where they live, how much their parents earn, or what obstacles they face.” (AUDIO FILE)

The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states more flexibility in setting standards for schools and monitoring how federal dollars are allocated to school districts.

In Oregon, a task force made up of members from the Oregon Education Association and the Oregon Department of Education is working to find ways to improve student assessment systems. Judy Harris, a member of the task force and a Nationally Board Certified teacher at Hanby Middle School in Gold Hill, Oregon, said the bill will give teachers more power in the classroom.

“There are many reasons to support this bill—most importantly, it empowers educators to make important classroom decisions so we can do what’s right for our students,” Harris said. “I appreciate that the Senator was willing to listen to us, trust our professional opinion, and take a leadership role in getting the bill passed.”

The bill also contains a provision Wyden pushed for that would focus on helping foster children and children experiencing homelessness graduate from high school. Wyden urged conference leaders to include reporting requirements for states and school districts to track the progress of those students and identify new ways to provide them with more support.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on December 2. It now goes to the president to be signed into law.

Find audio of Wyden’s statement here.