From “The Impact of the Adequate Yearly Progress Requirement of. the Federal “No Child Left Behind” Act on Schools in the Great Lakes Region,” a study released by the Great Lakes Center for Educational Research and the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University. See also “Many States Have Taken a “Backloaded” Approach to No Child Left Behind Goal of All Students Scoring ‘Proficient'” from the Center on Education Policy.
On June 24, The Department of Public Instruction will release the preliminary Adequate Yearly Progress Reports on schools and districts in Wisconsin, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act. My guess is that MMSD will have a higher number of “failing schools” this year. Think of Madison as being “ahead of the curve.”
AYP is not the best gauge of the work our district is doing; NCLB isn’t a good law and AYP is ridiculous yardstick.
If the flaws in and political manipulation behind NCLB weren’t obvious already, an interview with former Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Susan Neuman in the new Time magazine confirms what we already knew. Excerpts below.
There was always something slightly insane about No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the ambitious education law often described as the Bush Administration’s signature domestic achievement. For one thing, in the view of many educators, the law’s 2014 goal — which calls for all public school students in grades 4 through 8 to be achieving on grade level in reading and math — is something no educational system anywhere on earth has ever accomplished. Even more unrealistic: every kid (except for 3% with serious handicaps or other issues) is supposed to be achieving on grade level every year, climbing in lockstep up an ever more challenging ladder. This flies in the face of all sorts of research showing that children start off in different places academically and grow at different rates.
Add to the mix the fact that much of the promised funding failed to materialize and many early critics insisted that No Child Left Behind was nothing more than a cynical plan to destroy American faith in public education and open the way to vouchers and school choice.
Now a former official in Bush’s Education department is giving at least some support to that notion…
[T]here were others in the department, according to Neuman, who saw NCLB as a Trojan horse for the choice agenda — a way to expose the failure of public education and “blow it up a bit,” she says. “There were a number of people pushing hard for market forces and privatization.”
Neuman also regrets the Administration’s use of humiliation and shame as a lever for school reform. Failure to meet NCLB’s inflexible goals meant schools would be publicly labeled as failures. Neuman now sees this as a mistake: “Vilifying teachers and saying we are going to shame them was not the right approach.”
The combination of inflexibility and public humiliation for those not meeting federal goals ignited so much frustration among educators that NCLB now appears to be an irreparably damaged brand. “The problems lingered long enough and there’s so much anger that it may not be fixable,” says Neuman. While the American Federation of Teachers was once on board with the NCLB goals, she notes, the union has turned against it. “Teachers hate NCLB because they feel like they’ve been picked on.”
Is there a way out of the mess? Neuman still supports school accountability and the much-maligned annual tests mandated by the law. But she now believes that the nation has to look beyond the schoolroom, if it wishes to leave no child behind. Along with 59 other top educators, policymakers and health officials, she’s put her name to a nonpartisan document to be released on Tuesday by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. Titled “A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education,” it lays out an expansive vision for leveling the playing field for low-income kids, one that looks toward new policies on child health and support for parents and communities. Neuman says that money she’s seen wasted on current programs should be reallocated accordingly. “Pinning all our hopes on schools will never change the odds for kids.”
The right wing attack machine turned on Scott McClellan when he belatedly told the truth. We can expect the same treatment for Neuman.
Thomas J. Mertz