On Dec. 10, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177) after it passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities. The legislation replaces No Child Left Behind, which became law in 2002 and was much maligned for over-relying on standardized testing to assess and incentivize school and student performance.
By 2020, S. 1177 will increase total appropriations for early and secondary education programs by nearly 12 percent, with money identified for teacher development, school improvement and programs to target disadvantaged and underperforming students. Although the law maintains the testing structure so unpalatable under No Child Left Behind, it shifts authority for mitigating sub-par results on those tests to state education authorities.
The new law places high value on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. By including technology and engineering into assessment regimes, allowing states to fund professional development and pay differentials for teachers of STEM-related subjects and creating standards for the use of federal funds in support of science and math, S. 1177 broadly empowers schools to provide useful skills for elementary and secondary students.
For the aviation maintenance industry, this is an important development. As reported in a 2013 Brookings Institution study, half of all STEM jobs are industrial and available to workers without a four-year college degree. The Every Student Succeeds Act encourages schools to provide all students with a solid foundation in these disciplines. The market for future technical workers – including aviation maintenance professionals – will be strengthened by core training in hands-on, applied skills.
For a complete assessment of S. 1177’s commitment to STEM programs, review the STEM Education Coalition’s analysis of the law.
Now that Congress and the president have upgraded the nation’s early and secondary education system, attention will turn to the Higher Education and Carl D. Perkins Acts. Review ATEC's assessment of the work ahead to reauthorize those laws as the council supports efforts to enhance the system’s focus on technical skills.
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