US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) applauded Congressional leaders for targeting high school graduation rates in Oregon and across the country as part of a larger K-12 education bill that last night passed the House of Representatives.
The bill, which would replace the No Child Left Behind law from 2001, includes a provision to help more students earn their diplomas by requiring states to identify high schools with low graduation rates and ensure those schools receive the support they need to improve. The proposal is similar to a Wyden-authored provision that passed the Senate in July as part of the Every Child Achieves Act.
“As a parent, I know that moms and dads want their kids to be able to climb the economic ladder throughout their lives, and that begins with a top-flight education,” Wyden said. “I’m glad Congress has taken meaningful action today to expand opportunity to every student in Oregon and across the country by helping more students graduate from high school.”
The bill that passed the House last night was agreed upon by a conference committee made up of House and Senate leaders to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act covering K-12 education.
The top Senate Democrat on the conference committee, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the Wyden-authored provision in the Senate bill drove negotiators to focus on high school graduation rates in the bill.
“Senator Wyden and I share a deep commitment to helping more students earn their high school diploma, so they will be prepared to compete and lead in the 21st century economy, and this legislation will help move us toward that goal,” Murray said. “He fought hard to make raising graduation rates a priority, and I look forward to finishing our bipartisan work and making sure this legislation can get to work for students, parents, teachers, and communities in our neighboring states and across the country.”
The bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, would give states more flexibility in setting standards for schools and monitor how federal dollars are allocated to school districts.
The Oregon Education Association (OEA) today praised Wyden for his work to get states and schools much-needed resources to help students succeed through graduation day.
“OEA is proud to have worked with Senator Wyden to ensure the Every Student Succeeds Act creates greater opportunities for all Oregon students, no matter their zip code,” said Hanna Vaandering, an elementary physical education teacher from Beaverton and President of OEA. “This bill will allow those who work with our students every day to have a voice in creating quality learning environments that inspire students, and an assessment system which focuses on student learning instead of high stakes testing. Senator Wyden’s commitment to improving graduation rates by lifting up student, parent, and educator voices has helped shape a federal education bill that will truly help Oregon students succeed.”
Higher graduation rates have been linked to lower unemployment and better earnings.
The conference committee bill also contains a provision Wyden pushed for that would focus on helping foster children and children experiencing homelessness graduate from high school. Wyden urged conference leaders to include reporting requirements for states and school districts to track the progress of those students and identify new ways to provide them with more support.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.