December 09, 2015

Hirono Supports Major No Child Left Behind Overhaul

Landmark Legislation Includes Hirono Priorities For Impact Aid, Native Hawaiian Education, Early Education Initiatives That Will Help Hawaii Students

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first comprehensive legislation aimed at improving elementary and secondary education to pass Congress since the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.

“Our schools should be places where students’ curiosity about the world can grow into a lifelong passion for learning,” said Senator Hirono. “The Every Students Succeeds Act makes the one size fits all mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act a thing of the past, and Hawaii students will benefit from this legislation that supports early education, services to military-connected children, improvements to the Native Hawaiian Education Act, and many other commonsense reforms.

“However, I am disappointed that a provision I offered to provide more accurate data on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students was not included in the final legislation. I appreciate the work that Senator Patty Murray and Representative Bobby Scott did to make progress to provide federal support for states who take initiative to help AANHPI students succeed, but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure that educators have insight on how to help all students.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act passed the Senate 85-12 and is headed to the President’s desk for his signature.

Strengthening Native Hawaiian Education

The Every Student Succeeds Act includes important provisions from Senator Hirono’s Native Hawaiian Education Reauthorization Act, a Hawaii delegation bill, to preserve and protect the Native Hawaiian Education Act by increasing transparency and adding Native Hawaiian charter schools as eligible entities for direct federal grants.

Investing in Early Education

The Every Student Succeeds Act renews funding to the Preschool Development Grant program at $250 million a year through 2020, which includes funding for 18 Hawaii preschool programs. After learning that Preschool Development Grant funding was in jeopardy, Senator Hirono advocated for full and robust funding for the program. The final bill also includes portions of the Continuum of Learning Act, legislation Senator Hirono first co-introduced with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in 2011, to foster coordination between existing early childhood programs and their local elementary schools.

Preserving Federal Impact Aid Funding to Help Serve Hawaii’s Military-Connected Children

The Every Student Succeeds Act preserves Hawaii’s federal Impact Aid payments that help educate Hawaii’s military connected students, and reverses at least $30 million in annual cuts to Hawaii threatened in an earlier version of the bill. In February, Senator Hirono and members of the bipartisan Senate and House Impact Aid Coalitions sent a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee asking to preserve funding for this important program. The bill also includes pieces of the bipartisan Local Taxpayer Relief Act Senator Hirono co-introduced with Senator John Thune (R-SD) to simplify Impact Aid student counts and speed up payments. Then-Representative Hirono first introduced a version of this legislation as the Fair Funding for Schools Act in 2007.

Improving Educational Data Collection

The bill encourages states to disaggregate data on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students by requiring that the Department of Education provide state education departments with technical assistance. The bill also includes portions of Senator Hirono’s All Students Count Act that calls for publishing student achievement data cross-tabulated by subgroups such as race, gender, disability, and English proficiency. This more detailed data will help educators, parents, and communities better understand the needs of their students.

When the Senate first considered this legislation this summer, Senator Hirono introduced an amendment with Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) that would address disparities between AANHPI students by requiring detailed reporting on student achievement using the same AANHPI subgroups in the Census, such as Filipino, Japanese, Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, and Samoan. Although the amendment was narrowly defeated, Senator Hirono will continue to fight for better data on the AANHPI community.

Reducing Unnecessary Testing, Supporting Multiple Measures of Success

The bill includes pieces of Senator Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act, a bill Senator Hirono cosponsored to audit and eliminate redundant tests. States are also empowered to set limits on the aggregate amount of time devoted to assessment tests. The Every Student Succeeds Act also gives states flexibility in using multiple measures of success beyond test scores, that can include equal access to educational resources, school climate and safety, per-pupil expenditure, class size, qualified teachers, Advanced Placement, early college programs, and other measures of students’ opportunity to learn.  

Increasing Opportunity for Teacher Leadership

The Every Student Succeeds Act includes portions of Senator Hirono’s amendment to allow funding to be used for excellent teachers to mentor new teachers, lead professional development, and have a voice in school and district leadership.