"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 25, 2009

NCLB: Inexorable March Toward Failure

From Monty Neill, posted to various ARN servers:
As state data has been accumulating, once again we see the inexorable march toward failing from 70 to 100 percent of each state's schools by 2014. The scores went up in KY, but the number of failing schools went up faster (see story here). Of course the articles is replete with quotes of educators promising to do more (with less, most likely). But it is a completely rigged game that cannot be won. The real solution is to ignore AYP since one is almost certain to fail, if not this year then in the next few, and focus on what can be done to actually teach well (which means scrapping most test prep, domination of tests over curriculum, and curriculum narrowing). But educators are under vast pressure...

It looks increasingly unlikely that NCLB will be reauthorized in 2010. Most insiders are saying 2011, which means there will be no relief from AYP. Meanwhile, the press is on via Race to the Top (RTTT) -- and no doubt there will be other measures forthcoming - to pressure states to sign on to the just-released, still draft new 'national' standards and then to whatever tests are produced. Those tests almost certainly will be tougher to pass than those now in place in all but a few states. (I assume based on lots of comments about them that they will be pretty equivalent to NAEP's proficient levels, which were set by an egregiously flawed process orchestrated by right-wing activist Checker Finn, then head of the National Assessment Governing Board). If those come into play before reauthorization, the speed toward 100% failure will accelerate, and the number of states that will be headed there instead of a mere 70% or so failure will greatly increase.

Finally, Duncan wants to overhaul the 'bottom' 5% of schools, under RTTT. Little doubt many of them need a good deal of help, and some may be beyond that, but RTTT is not going to do that job well, based on the draft 'requirements' issued by the Department (as is pointed out in many of the comments to those requirements). What remains unsaid is whether this will eventually become a continuous process in which the bottom X percent is always subject to privatization or 'transformation' with mass firings. That is not even hinted at by the Department, but it has been policy in Colorado (I don't know if the policy has now changed). Monty

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