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NCLB Outrages

No State Left Behind

The Washington Post continues to be one of the chief water carriers for NCLB. Oh, and by the way, the Washington Post owns Kaplan test prep.

NCLB really is creating enormous change in schools -- districts are connecting data to faces in ways they haven't before. Those districts are turning to Kaplan for a range of services -- from intervention services for students with the greatest need to professional development for teachers. Districts also are turning to Kaplan for solutions, such as the Achievement Planner learning platform -- a comprehensive solution that includes formative assessment, state testing analysis, and targeted lesson plans.
--Seppy Basili, Kaplan's vice president of learning and assessment, in an interview, 5/20/2004.


Odd though it sounds, what's most worrying about the Bush
administration's new education pilot project is the fact that 20 states
have sought to sign up. The project, announced late last year, would
allow a select group of states to experiment with the standards they use
to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law. In plain
English, the states want to measure student "improvement" (Do individual
children get better from year to year?) as opposed to straightforward
student "proficiency" (Can groups of children pass state tests?). As we
wrote once before, a system that intelligently measures progress could
indeed help save improving schools from being mistakenly labeled as
failures. But if students are allowed to keep "improving" indefinitely
without ever becoming "proficient," then the goals of the law will never
be met.

That so many states are bidding to try such a scheme is a bad sign: It
means that nearly half the country's school systems do not believe it is
possible to make all or even most of their students proficient within a
decade. For those who think that proficiency sounds like a high bar,
it's worth remembering that the states themselves determine what counts
as proficient, and few have made the standard unreasonable. In Virginia,
for example -- a state known for its high standards -- proficient means
answering 28 of 50 questions correctly on a standard algebra test.

Worse, it looks as though many states are now trying to put off the day
of reckoning. Labeling their worst-performing schools "improving" is a
lot easier than holding teachers and administrators accountable. We hope
the education secretary will be stingy with permissions to join this
pilot program, and we hope its tenure is brief.

— Editorial
Washington Post


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