It is customary for federal agencies to issue detailed regulations on how new laws should be put into effect, and Mr. Obama’s Department of Education did so in November. But some lawmakers from both parties saw the regulations as unusually aggressive and far-reaching, and said they could subvert ESSA’s intent of re-establishing local control over education and decreasing the emphasis on testing.
Last month, the House of Representatives overturned a broad swath of the rules using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to spike federal regulations. The Senate passed a similar resolution on Thursday, and President Trump has indicated that he will sign it. That would leave ESSA on the books, but Ms. DeVos would have more flexibility in how to apply it.
The Obama regulations pushed states to weight student achievement measures, such as test scores and graduation rates, more heavily than other factors in labeling schools as underperforming. The regulations also required schools to provide parents and the public with an annual report card detailing schoolwide student achievement data and other indicators of success.
Among the most contentious of the Obama rules was one that required schools to test at least 95 percent of their students.
There were some good reasons for such a policy. To avoid the sanctions that come with low scores, schools have sometimes pressured or forced low-performing students to stay home on testing days. But conservatives said the 95 percent rule was excessive federal intervention, while some on the left said it prevented parents and students from “opting out” of standardized tests — a popular protest tactic.