House Passes Pay-for-Success Amendment to K-12 Education Bill

By voice vote, the House tonight passed an amendment authorizing the use of pay-for-success models for teacher and principal training programs. The amendment was approved as part of a larger bill (H.R. 5) that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The amendment to the bill was sponsored by Reps. John Delaney (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO). It would make pay-for-success an allowable use of Title II funds by states or localities for such training if they result in a direct cost savings to the local, state, or federal government. Funded projects would require a feasibility study that would, among other things, demonstrate that the funded initiatives are “based on strong or moderate evidence of effectiveness.” Payments would only be made when agreed upon outcomes are achieved, as determined through an independent study based either on random assignment or other experimental designs when random assignment is not feasible. (The amendment language is here).

The focus on teacher training was reportedly agreed upon by supporters in both parties. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, additional training is needed to address high levels of turnover among teachers nationally, a problem that costs states millions of dollars each year.

“Teacher turnover is a drain on schools and a drain on resources,” said Delaney in a statement. “My bipartisan amendment will give state and local governments another tool in the toolbox to support teachers, expanding training programs and boost retention efforts.”

Delaney’s Republican cosponsor, Rep. Young, concurred. “As we continue to look for more ways to focus government spending on producing desired outcomes, rather than arbitrary dollar figures, it’s clear that we must also have a focus on building an evidence base for our policies,” said Young in a statement released by his office.  “The social impact financing model does that, and this amendment is a small step towards implementing this approach to a broad range of issue areas.”

Comments on the House floor during proceedings on the amendment can be found here. Off the Hill, the amendment was supported by America Forward and Results for America.

The overall bill may be passed by the House as early as tomorrow, but it is unlikely to be enacted into law in its current form. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill as written.

The amendment nevertheless provides the first indication of support for pay-for-success in Congress this year. Separate, stand-alone legislation has not yet been introduced in the House or Senate in this session of Congress but is expected soon.


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