Summary of the Student Results Act of 1999 (11-19-99)

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the main legislation for K-12 education programs in the Department of Education, is a hot topic in the 106th Congress.  Partially in response to strong constituent demand for change, members of Congress see education reform as a major election-year issue.  As the reauthorization process moves ahead, Congress is discussing the appropriate role and scope of federal control over education, a highly partisan debate.  Differences of opinion in the federal government's role in education have produced several versions of reauthorization legislation, but these different bills will have to be incorporated into a single bill later in the legislative process.  Meanwhile, the House and Senate will continue to hold hearings and debate the various bills.

Three things are complicating the reauthorization process for ESEA.  First, the House and Senate decided to approach it in very different ways.  The House of Representatives is reauthorizing each titles of the act as a separate bill.  Second, the full House Education and the Workforce Committee is working on the reauthorization, instead of the standard system in which the subcommittee holds hearings and mark-up before passing it to the full committee for consideration.  And third, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has decided to reauthorize ESEA as a single bill.  These different styles and different versions of the bill will affect the timetable for reauthorization.

One of the earliest reauthorization bills was introduce by Rep. William Goodling (R-PA) on February 11 to the House of Representatives.  Goodling's bill,  H.R. 2, the Student Results Act of 1999, deals primarily with ESEA programs that assist low achieving and disadvantaged students. The legislation has been the topic of a series of hearings in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  Also available on the Committee website is a summary of the differences between H.R. 2 and the current ESEA law.  Below is the table of contents of the current version of the bill:

Title I -- Student Results
    Part A -- Basic Programs
    Part B -- Education of Migratory Children
    Part C -- Neglected or Delinquent Youth
    Part D -- General Provisions
    Part E -- Comprehensive School Reform
Title II -- Magnet Schools Assistance and Public School Choice
Title III -- Teacher Liability Protection
Title IV -- Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska native Education
    Subtitle A -- Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
    Part B -- Native Hawaiian Education
    Part C -- Alaska Native Education
    Subtitle B -- Amendments to the Education Amendments of 1978
    Subtitle C -- Tribally Controlled Schools Act of 1988
Title V -- Gifted and Talented Children
Title VI -- Rural Education Assistance
Title VII -- McKinney Homeless Education Improvements Act of 1999
Title VIII -- Schoolwide Program Adjustment

On October 18, the Education Committee released their lengthy report -- available in two parts -- on the legislation before placing it on the House calendar for debate.  During the floor debate, several amendments were offered.  The most significant amendment for the geoscience community was offered by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), a former professor of physics.  Ehlers' amendment required that science assessments and standards be added to all Title I programs in the bill.  The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News released a copy of Ehlers' floor speech.

State-set standards and assessments for reading and math are already on the books, and the amendment would change the bill to incorporate science into these evaluations.  The amendment marks the 2005-2006 school year as the first year that schools will be required to implement science assessments.  Currently, nearly half of the states do not have any science standards or assessments, and this amendment would allow for each state to develop its own standards over the next five years.  Ehlers said, "This is simply saying this is an important national priority and one of the subjects that we should teach and which our school systems should assess is the knowledge that students have acquired in the scientific arena so that we know whether or not we will have an adequate work force for the future, and so that we will have an adequate number of scientists and engineers as well."

After several days of debate, H.R. 2 passed the House and now awaits consideration by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee.  The final bill included the amendment by Ehlers calling for science assessment -- the amendment passed in a 360-62 vote.

Sources:  American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News, National Science Teachers Association website, Department of Education website, House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, hearing testimony, and

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Contributed by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs

Posted November 19, 1999

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