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N.H. Senators Vote to Overhaul No Child Left Behind

  It's been eight years since No Child Left Behind expired and congress failed to reauthorize it, but today both of New Hampshire's senators were among the 85 who voted to overhaul the federal government's controversial education law. 

Following the vote, in a call with New Hampshire media and the presidents of teachers' unions and the state Commissioner of Education,  Democrat Jeanne Shaheen praised the reform for encouraging more spending on early childhood education, and focusing on STEM education. She specified that "while states will be required to adopt challenging new academic standards, they will not be required to use any particular set of standards, like Common Core, for example." 

Senator Ayotte released a statement declaring the bill would "return accountability and responsibility for education decisions back to where it belongs - in states, local school districts, and classrooms." 

Ever since 2013, New Hampshire has been operating under a waiver exempting it from some of the penalties that No Child Left Behind levied on under-performing schools.   

According to Catherine Brown, Vice President of education policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, many of the provisions of that waiver are codified in the new law.  "Like under waivers, states will have to identify the bottom 2 percent of schools, they'll have to identify high schools where less than two-thirds of students are graduating, and schools where sub-groups of students are chronically struggling, and they'll have to use evidence based interventions to help these target schools," Brown explains. 

There are diversions from the waiver process. Perhaps most notably, there is no longer any federal role in determining states' teacher evaluation policies.  

President Obama is expected to sign the bill tomorrow. 

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.
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