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Bipartisan Vote Ends ‘No Child Left Behind’

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan education bill that revises significant portions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The Every Student Succeeds Act would take some of the power given to the federal government through No Child Left Behind and give it to individual states. For example, states will still have to use federal tests in schools but have leeway in determining how to weigh these tests.

In addition, the act will provide federal grants to states and local school districts to help underperforming schools and others to help states expand their charter and magnet-school programs.

The act, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Patty Murray, D-Washington state, first passed the Senate in July. The conference report reconciling differences between House and Senate versions of the bill cleared the House last week.

This conference report passed the Senate 85-12 Wednesday morning and will head to President Barack Obama for final approval.

In a statement of administration policy in July, Obama called the original version of the bill an "important step forward" but noted it needed provisions to help the lowest-achieving schools in the country and to cap the time spent on standardized testing in classrooms.

Obama seems to have been satisfied with changes to the law since then, as the White House announced Wednesday the president will sign the final version Thursday morning.

"This bipartisan bill will cement the progress made in elementary and secondary education over the last seven years and fix the No Child Left Behind Act to reduce over-testing and one-size-fits-all federal mandates," the White House said in a statement announcing the president's intent to sign the bill.

Republican leadership hailed the bill as an example of bipartisanship they say should define their time in power.

"Their success in this effort is our country's gain," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said on the floor Wednesday. "It's a win for parents. It's a win for dedicated teachers. Most importantly, it's a win for children, because these young Americans deserve the enhanced opportunities the bill would provide."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, also praised Alexander and Murray for working together to come up with a bill that will "reduce the focus on testing," but he couldn't resist taking a shot at Republicans for blocking past attempts to rewrite the law.

"Senate Democrats have long sought to reverse the harmful effects of No Child Left Behind, but during several attempts at reauthorization, our Republican colleagues stood in the way," Reid said in a statement Wednesday.

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