This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Major revisions to federal education law mean new options for Pennsylvania legislators, and acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King was in Philadelphia on Thursday to encourage states to take advantage of the changes.
"There’s now much more flexibility for states to look beyond just English and math test scores," King said. "Are students getting access to advanced coursework? Are students getting access to art and music? Are students succeeding in art and science and social studies?"
King appeared at the School of the Future on Thursday to tout the Obama administration’s latest education priorities, which include encouraging states to maintain high academic standards and provide parents and policymakers with clear assessments of academic progress.
The revised No Child Left Behind Act — now renamed the Every Student Succeeds Act — still requires states to test students and intervene in struggling schools. But the rewritten law gives states much more leeway about exactly how to test and respond.
This expands the alternatives to charter takeovers for the lowest-performing schools. States will be free to experiment with more targeted interventions, King said.
"For example, in a struggling elementary school, it might be the right thing to expand early learning," said King, a former teacher and principal named to his post after former secretary Arne Duncan resigned last fall. "In a struggling school with lots of English language learners, it may make sense to provide much more professional development for teachers to learn how to work effectively with English language learners."