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NCLB Outrages

Adherence to NCLB is leaving Michigan behind

Ohanian Comment: Fred Barton nails an important part of NCLB here: Lansing Public Schools will spend $1.25 million over two years to hire a firm from Arizona to explain how to teach kids in Michigan. Actually, this comes closest to compliance with AYP, which is basically a full employment law for consultants.

Surely, the "full employment law for consultants" is why our professional organizations offer half-hearted 'tweaks' to NCLB rather than leading their members into revolt.


by Fred Barton

Other states are wising up to trick played on students

I'm not surprised that the fact 42 percent of high schools in Michigan are failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) made the front page. But I'm not sure it's the story everybody thinks it is - because that was the plan all along.

AYP is the biggest dose of snake oil sold to the public since compassionate conservatism.

AYP is built on the irrational premise that, by 2014, all students will be proficient. While a worthy goal, it is hampered by the fact that proficient means able to pass a standardized test.

English not your first language? Doesn't matter. In Virginia, the Department of Education sought an exemption, contending that giving a test written in English to students who are recent immigrants is unfair. The U.S. Department of Education denied the request.

Have a disability? Too bad. Maryland students were asked to sound out some vowel sounds on one of the state tests.

No problem there, except that these students all attended the Maryland School for the Deaf!

Closer to home, Holt schools failed because not enough poor students go there. This is a bad thing?

Okemos failed because they don't have enough students with disabilities. Should they recruit?

Lansing Public Schools will spend $1.25 million over two years to hire a firm from Arizona to explain how to teach kids in Michigan. Actually, this comes closest to compliance with AYP, which is basically a full employment law for consultants.

How many teachers, books, computers and aides could $1.25 million buy?

The illogic of AYP is being noticed by other states. Nebraska has pulled out of the federal No Child Left Behind law altogether and created its own, more flexible assessment called STARS (School-based Teacher- led Assessment Reporting System).

Led by Doug Christiensen, the state commissioner of education, Nebraska has fought for and gotten approval from the U.S. Department of Education.

West Virginia is creating its own AYP system that "Attempts to show the whole picture of the school, not just test scores," according to Priscilla Haden, a state school board member.

Nine states have applied to the U.S. Department of Education to be allowed to use "Growth Models", which measure academic progress over time as a basis for determining AYP - instead of one-shot, high-stakes tests.

Seven have been approved. Michigan is not among them.

Why not? The Michigan Department of Education, an early adopter of NCLB's Reading First program (which turned out to be more of a profit center for textbook publishers friendly to the Bush administration than a way to teach children to read) has been silent on the destruction being done by NCLB and absent from the growing national resistance.

This is another example of Michigan slipping further behind the rest of the nation. Perhaps the Michigan Department of Education is taking a cue from our dysfunctional Legislature, or perhaps they haven't been paying attention to what's going on in the rest of the country.

Whatever the reason, Michigan students, teachers and school districts are suffering as a result of their lack of leadership.

— Fred Barton
Lansing State Journal
2007-12-05


INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES


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