NCLB's unintended [sic] consequences need attention
Three cheers for these Eudora Kansas editorialists who recognize corporate-politico cherry picking when they see it. Where they are mistaken is in thinking NCLB consequences are "unintended."
In the speech last week at a Washington, D.C., charter school, President George Bush called for Congress to write stricter standards when it reauthorizes the landmark education reform bill next year. In doing so, he cited the success of the charter school as proof vast improvements can be made. In doing so, he demonstrated some of the cherry picking because the school was only four of 34 such charter schools meeting the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Bush made his remarks as a new critique of NCLB surfaced. Previously, the law has been criticized for its impossible demand that all students eventually test a proficiency levels in math and reading no matter how profound a student's emotional problems or learning disability. The new critique argues the bill forces educators to concentrate on those failing students they can realistically hope to improve to the proficiency level. The argument is that because school districts aren't rewarded for making proficient students exceptional students or for significant improvements in low-testing students that fall short of the magic level of proficiency, educators concentrate on the pool of failing students they can raise to the proficiency level.
Eudora parents can find assurance in recent test scores that the survival mechanism hasn't been adopted here. The number of USD 491 schools achieving standards of excellence on Kansas assessment tests indicates a dedication to reaching all students because that recognition is only given to schools with a high number students who test very well and a low number those who do poorly. But it is an obvious recourse to schools desperate to avoid dire consequences in the No Child Left Behind Act.
Problems and unintended consequences can be expected to arise in major pieces of legislation like the NCLB. Addressing impossible demands and measurements that encourage educational triage should as much a goal of any reauthorization of the bill as increased accountability.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES