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[Susan notes: This letter does a good job of pointing out that people should look at the long range effects of NCLB.]

Published in Daily Herald
09/28/2007

To the editor

Your Sept. 25 editorial suggested that elementary schools have been more successful in meeting testing goals than high schools because it is easier to "get all teachers on the same page" in elementary schools. This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the No Child Left Behind law, which mandates the testing process.



The genius, and the flaw, of the NCLB process is that the scores of "sub-groups" (such as special education, racial and ethnic minorities, low income) must be reported separately and must also achieve the standard for "meeting or exceeding" expectations. It is the reporting of sub-group scores that results in the apparent failure of most high schools in this area.



Sub-group scores must be reported only if there are at least 40 students in the sub-group in the class being tested. Since most elementary school classes in this area do not have that number of students in any of the sub-groups, their scores are reported only for the entire class, not for sub-groups. High scores from the majority of students mask the low scores other students may be earning.



The advantage elementary schools now have will eventually be lost. The percentage of students who must meet the standards rises every year, until 2014 when 100 percent of students must meet the goal. At that point, the conservative Republican goal will be achieved: nearly all public schools in America will be listed as "failing schools."



That will increase pressure to allow the use of vouchers so that tax dollars will be available for education in private schools, which are exempt from testing requirements. Tax payers will be supporting racially segregated and religious schools that are not required to meet NCLB standards. And it will have all been accomplished under the clever deception of a law which claims to be intended to improve public education!



Jeff Huebner


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