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Senators say they've made significant progress to update No Child Left Behind education law

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WASHINGTON — Two key senators said Monday that they've made significant progress on a bipartisan effort to update the No Child Left Behind law and hope it will be ready for committee action in mid-April.

Congress for years has been stymied on the best way to renew the much maligned law. The announcement of progress on a bipartisan Senate deal comes after House Republican leaders abruptly canceled a vote on a GOP bill last month after conservative opposition made passage uncertain.

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee's senior Democrat, said in a statement that they hope to have a hearing on their legislation the week of April 13. The statement didn't offer specifics and their offices declined to provide more information.

Lawmakers have grappled with such issues as whether federal law should continue to require annual reading and math testing in grades three to eight and again in high school. Much of the conflict focuses on how much of a federal role there should be in identifying and fixing failing schools.

The No Child Left Behind law, signed in 2002, has been credited with shining a light on the performance of poor, minority, disabled and non-English speaking students, but led to complaints from both Republicans and Democrats that the requirements were unworkable.

The Obama administration in 2012 began allowing waivers around some of the law's more stringent requirements if schools agreed to certain conditions.

Last week, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said he hopes his bill will go before the House the week of March 16. The White House has threatened a veto.

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