The No Child Left Behind Act of the Bush government from 2002 is set to bite the dust as the Every Student Succeeds Act has been passed by the US Senate with an 85-12 vote on Wednesday. It is to be signed by the US President Barack Obama on Thursday.
The new law withdraws the intervention from the federal government at district and state levels, leaving decision-making about policies to the states, thus decentralising the education law. The law will also allow states to use the comprehensive data, detailed and demographic-specific, gathered during the No Child Left Behind Act to enact its own policies.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), Chair of the Senate education panel, and one of the main architects of the law, told Washington Post: "It is the single-biggest step toward local control of public schools in 25 years."
He added it would "unleash a flood of innovation and student achievement across America, community by community and state by state".
USNews quoted Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, another chief architect of the law, as saying: "I'm proud of the progress we made in the final bill to make sure schools work to close achievement gaps and help more students earn their diploma. And, for schools that are struggling, our bill will help make sure they get the support they need to improve."
However the law is facing equal amount of criticism, some even called it a compromise.
"Federal pressure is a hard thing for people to swallow, but this law doesn't give enough federal pressure for enough schools and doesn't define the guardrails we need," said Conor Williams, senior researcher in the education policy programme at New America, a Washington think tank to USNews.
Martin West, an associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, called the law a compromise, saying there is "no appetite whatsoever for muscular federal reform efforts."
The law had been heavily criticised and a clamour for change had been echoing from states and teachers. The emphasis on incessant testing, and pulling up states for low-performing students, and serving penalties to states and teachers if goals went unmet, had been causing much furore.
However, concerns over the performance and lack of efforts taken at the state or local level about children who would need remedial help have arisen, which have left some policies about accountability intact.
The law, though it now leaves states to form its own policies, will still hold states and districts responsible for the bottom 5% of the students.
Math and reading tests for students from grade three to eight and one test while in high school will stay, though students can expect a respite from multiple tests in a month.