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NCLB Outrages

No State Left Behind

Comments from Annie: Following a sort of “round-up” theme on recent, not necessarily same-day articles, why, do you suppose, does it irk the Washington Post Company (which is also the Kaplan Educational Services company) so much that states are begging the Department of Education for leniency when it comes to being labeled as failures.

Examining this editorial, I am, once again, having a slight problem with the intended “logic.” Let’s try to figure this “worrying” situation out with the Post.

Take a look at this line in the argument: “But if students are allowed to keep "improving" indefinitely without ever becoming "proficient," then the goals of the law will never be met.”

The editor goes on to explain editorial outrage over this self-identified atrocity by explaining how the 20 states clamoring for provisions which would evaluate the “improvement” of students, rather than schools: “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.”

I don’t know about you, but I just have to pause here for a minute because this concept, fundamental in the NCLB act, and I believe, unprecedented in it’s flawed and irrational premise, that all students, including mentally retarded students, could miraculously become “proficient” academically, in 7 more years, because they are enduring relentless testing, is absolutely incredulous.

I have to repeat the editor's concern here: “… if students are allowed to keep "improving" indefinitely without ever becoming "proficient," then the goals of the law will never be met.”

Wow.

Let’s paraphrase, now, for definition and clarity. If the states asking to participate in measures that might identify students’ (as individuals) ability to perform on tests, rather than schools’ overall performance on tests, and we find, what we might expect to find out about students: that they will perform with a range of outcomes from low, to high, and everything in between, then, we have, according to the editors premise, lost the opportunity to (statistically manipulate for proficiency) create an artificial “proficiency.”

Now, I understand.

But…the editor is not finished.

The Post wants you to savor this concept. Here it is: “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.” And they point to: “…Virginia, for example -- a state known for its high standards -- proficient means answering 28 of 50 questions correctly on a standard algebra test.”

Spookiest, by far, is the feeling that I get reading this, that the Washington Post almost wants the state public schools to fail. I refer to this choice of words: “… it looks as though many states are now trying to put off the day of reckoning.”

Now, why would the Post want to see our public schools fail, our teachers and administrators held “accountable,” or our state school systems denied the program devised to give them an alternative to failure?

Thi$ i$ a que$tion that every reader need$ to an$wer for him$elf.



No State Left Behind

February 25, 2006; A16

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
2006-02-25
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/24/AR2006022401833.html


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