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Is House Bill a Preview of the 'S' in ESEA?

The 'Graduation For All Act' was introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives. It creates a $2 billion competitive grant program to help districts turn around their lowest-performing high schools and their feeder middle schools.

(The bill is not the House version of the Senate's Graduation Promise Act, which was introduced in September. One source tells me the House is still expected to introduce its own version of that bill soon.)

To get the grants, districts have to choose a turnaround strategy, or "model of success," identified in the bill (which are pretty much the four turnaround models touted by Ed Secretary Arne Duncan), and build a team to pull off the turnaround. They also have to implement data-based early warning systems to catch students before they fall seriously off-track, and they have to make sure "teacher talent" is distributed fairly to their schools. Districts also have to provide students with rigorous coursework, and the appropriate academic and social supports, and prepare them for college by helping them design graduation and career plans, offering college-level courses, and providing information about college and financial aid.

There's also $150 million in the bill to support development of early college high schools and dual-enrollment programs. And it calls for research into effective middle school improvement strategies.

Those of you who want to read the text of the new bill or track its progress can go to the Library of Congress search engine and plug in the bill number: H.R. 4122.

You can also check out the press release about the House filing and an outline of the bill.

Rep. George Miller, the California Democrat who chairs the House education committee, said the bill declares that "it is no longer acceptable to let an at-risk student fall through the cracks and empowers schools to make the changes needed to help at-risk students thrive in school, earn a diploma and go on to college or a good job."

Melissa Salmanowitz, a press aide to the House education committee, said the bill represents "an important down payment on the 'S' in ESEA," meaning that its footprint could foreshadow how high school improvement takes shape when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is reauthorized.

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