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House Will Vote on NCLB Reauthorization Last Week in February

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act the week of Feb. 24, according to a memo from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that outlined the chamber's schedule for the month of February.

That announcement is in line with the timetable John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, outlined last week, and means that his committee will be marking up a bill in the coming weeks.

Kline also said last week that he plans to forego holding hearings on the reauthorization and instead use the bill he ushered through the House in the 113th Congress, the Student Success Act, as the starting point for the legislative process.

But on Thursday, the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., wrote to Kline asking him to reconsider that decision.

"As we begin the 114th Congress, we welcome 12 new colleagues to the Education and the Workforce Committee who, like the rest of us, would benefit from the opportunity to explore areas in need of reform and review innovative policy solutions," Scott wrote.

Kline has yet to officially schedule a hearing or markup on the bill, but it could occur as early as next week.

The Majority Leader's memo also specifically mentioned a proposal that would prohibit the White House from "coercing" states to adopt the Common Core State Standards. It's unclear whether this would be part of the larger reauthorization measure, or whether it would move as a stand-alone bill.

Either way, it's notable that it's included in the memo. The reauthorization that the House passed in the 113th Congress included language that would prohibit the secretary of education from forcing states to adopt standards, including common core. But, for the most part, House leaders were able to keep discussion of the standards out of the floor debate on the bill. A public trashing of Common Core on the floor of the House would be a big deal.

A discussion draft reauthorization in the Senate currently doesn't include the words "common core," though it would prohibit the secretary from forcing states to adopt specific standards. But efforts are also underway by Republicans in that chamber to explicitly use the words common core. ​

Here's a quick recap of the Student Success Act:

Among other things, it would keep NCLB's testing regime in place (each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school), but leave the actual school improvement decisions completely up to states. It would combine a slew of education programs—including those for migrant children, delinquent students, English-language learners, and others—into one giant funding stream, with the aim of giving states and districts maximum flexibility.

The bill would also repeal the "maintenance of effort" requirement, which requires school districts and states to keep up their own spending at a certain level in order to tap federal dollars. It would eliminate the current law's requirement that teachers be "highly qualified," which means they must show they are competent in the subject they are teaching, hold a bachelor's degree, and be certified in their states.

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