Recently, Congress has taken important steps toward renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and establishing a permanent system of accountability in public education. However, the ESEA expired eight years ago, resulting in the rise of a de facto state led accountability system in the form of waivers. Waivers have served as an effective stopgap, transferred greater authority to the states, and solidified a shift away from strict federal control over state accountability practices. Disagreements over federal and state authority under ESEA persist, however. In Pacts Americana, researchers at Bellwether Education Partners draw upon evidence from the past decade under No Child Left Behind and the “Waiver Era” of the last three years to produce a new “state-federal bargain.” Under this new agreement, states would autonomously lead school improvement processes while remaining accountable for results.
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