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NCLB Outrages

Vermont Asks If NCLB Is Trading Food For Test Scores

The much vaunted Leave No Child Behind Act, designed by the current administration to improve schools, along with student and teacher performances, is having a questionable impact on schools all over the country.

The law, passed in 2002, requires that students' test scores rise significantly each year. If they don't, a school is labeled a non-performing school, needing improvement. Too many years of non-performing and there are some federal pipers to pay: schools may have their principals and teachers replaced; students can be transferred (via vouchers) to other schools and/or charter schools, and Title 1 funds can be withheld.

Title 1 funds lunches and breakfasts for needy children. Title 1 was created on the notion that children will learn better if their stomachs are not growling. That makes sense. It doesn't make much sense to tie grumbling stomachs to test scores, however.

This law has countless other elements that attract criticism, in addition to its requirement for significant improvement annually. Test scores in Waitsfield are already very high, and it will be hard for that school to show consistent, significant improvement.

There is now data from many states suggesting that the law is punitive, inflexible and impossible to administer and that it will eventually result in labeling 90,000 schools nationwide as failing schools. In neighboring New Hampshire, the New Hamsphire School Administrators' Association estimated that the Leave No Child Behind Act brings in $77 per pupil in federal aid, but creates $575 per pupil in costs.

Further complicating the law is the fact that it requires all students to achieve a measure of reading and math proficiency by 2014, but does not define proficiency. That is done on a state by state basis.

According to Vermont educators, by 2006, eighty percent of Vermont schools will be identified as failing, under the Leave No Child Behind Act.

This is interesting, considering Vermont has the highest scores of the 50 states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and consistently ends up on top ten lists across a host of positive educational factors.

Conspiracy theory has it that legislation is setting schools up to fail to raise the hue and cry for school choice. Whether this is the case or not, leaving no child behind should not mean leaving them hungry.

— editorial
Trading Food for Test Scores?
Mad River Valley (Vermont) Valley Reporter
Feb. 27, 2003


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