« Newsweek ranking of high schools | Main | School board member shunned? »

May 21, 2008

An uneven road to NCLB proficiency

It appears that 23 states -- Maryland not among them -- might have been banking on No Child Left Behind going away by now, or at least lessening its mandate that 100 percent of public school students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

A new report by the Center on Education Policy reviewed the pace with which states require their schools to improve each year as they work towards all kids being proficient. Maryland is among those that increase schools' targets incrementally each year.

But in almost half the country, states only required small improvement in the early years of the law, making it relatively easy for schools to make AYP. But as 2014 approaches, schools in these states now have to show big improvements every year. In California, for example, reading proficiency must increase by 11 percentage points a year for the next six years, a goal viewed by many as unrealistic.

The challenge "is about to become much more difficult for 23 states that generally set lower expectations for the percentages of students reaching proficiency between 2002 and 2008 in contrast to much steeper expectations later on," the report says. "The higher goals are now becoming a reality."

The report concludes that, while it will be harder for schools in the 23 states to make AYP than for schools in places like Maryland, almost no one is on track for 100 percent proficiency by 2014.

Posted by Sara Neufeld at 6:04 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Around the Nation, NCLB, Study, study!


NCLB is not going away. Public schools have really brought this on themselves by lowering standards and pushing students through. I believe that to truly improve public education the United States needs a National curriculum and national tests like many other nations have. All students deserve a good education. By insuring that everyone must meet the same standards we would be well on the way to providing that.

The reality is that children are not factory widgets. They come to school with different levels of experience, some superbly high and others unbelievably low. When you have those children in the same class, it is not impossible, but given the restrictions teachers often face, it is hard to realistically expect all the children to learn the same things at the same time.
No Child Left Behind is here and will probably stay but it was not crafted with the very people it affects in mind. I would love for the non-educators, politicians, aides and lobbyists who wrote the bill to spend a week trying to teach in the conditions that I do then tell me how they expect it to be done.
It sounds good, but do people really understand the law. Special education students are expected to take and pass the same test as others in their grade even if their skills are not on the same grade level. Schools are held accountable for attendance. How can you hold a school accountable for the attendance of 4-10 year olds who are not responsible for whether they come to school or not.
Yes, hold schools accountable, but this particular method is deeply flawed. Hold us accountable for the things we can be accountable for. Not all students learn the same way, the same things at the same time. Test them at the beginning of the year, test them again at the end. If the students show a level of improvement (against themselves, not the class from the previous year) you will know that the school has been making strides to improve performance. How can you compare the success of last years third graders to this years class, the kids are different and in many cases so are the teachers. No Child Left Behind works in an "all things being equal" scenario, but we all know that (for whatever reason) "all things are not equal".

How can you hold a school accountable for students attendance when their own family doesn't hold them accountble? How can you expect a 10th or 11th grader with a reading level of a 4th or 5th grader because of a true learning disability to the same level as a student with an IQ of 125? (This is not an exageration - these are some of my sudents who are in the same class at the same time that I am referencing.)

NCLB can be changed but ONLY if people stand up and start fighting - and it has to be more than one or two indivudals here and there.

Most states and schools caved and said they would implement the requrements so they would recieve federal money. GUESS WHAT?! These are all UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES! The money was promised but it was never delivered. Thus, we are spending more money - that we don't have - on more programs that DO NOT WORK.

By the time kids enter high school they are so sick of being tested some of them purposly fail the tests.

This is HSA week. I work in a school where a student did not do the writing portion - BCR's or ECR's (which are a joke by the way) - and when asked why not she replied "I don't do those." SHE WILL FAIL THE HSA because she is just STUBBORN. But this reflects negatively on the school, the district, but most unfortunatly, ON HER TEACHER and it isn't always the teachers fault.

So, until we are all teaching kids with the same desire to learn and do well with the same materials and the same educational ablilitys NCLB may be here but it is going to continue to be an negative. And as long as this is happening, schools will keep cheating to keep themselves off the watch lists.

...lest we forget, Nancy Grasmick has asked that the BCR and ECR (writing sections) be removed from all the HSAs to speed up the grading time. Do the kids REALLY need to learn how to write????

I don't expect it to go away, but I really think we can come up with a better tool to assess the students' abilities.

It's all well and good to say that we need National Standards, supported by a National Curriculum, but you try getting politicians to agree on it. We need some serious reforms in our political atmosphere. Try explaining to Massachusetts why they should adopt North Carolina's standards, or vice versa. People start to bicker and complain about the unique nature of their students, their district, their geography,... And some of their arguments are completely valid! Then comes the big question: "how can we hold all children to the same standards/curriculum when there is such a disparity in wealth?"

I have read most of the post and I agree and disagree with a lot of you. However, I live abroad. The education system in America does not need NCLB. Connecticut should be the benchmark for public schools not something like NCLB. By the way, NCLB is a national standard that fails the classroom and the teacher everday. In fact since NCLB has been in place, more students have failed rather than passed. 7 out of 10 students are unprepared for college and that is a look at all schools combined. It is not a problem with testing. It is a problem that revolves around narrow, poor skills based, education systems. Broadening the horizens and bringing back the essay will greatly improve the students performance. As I look at the foreign education systems, the best make students earn their grades. NCLB has lead to dumbing down the testing and instruction in the classroom which has lead to a decline in literacy in America. Countries that use the same system have had the same problems and research shows it. The problem is when school districts and parents by into gimmick education and let it go without challenge.

If I was a parent today, I would put my kids in private school or teach them myself. I would not teach just skills and I certainly would not look abroad to do what can be accomplished at home. Looking abroad does not help. I have seen why the foreignor makes higher test scores. It is all about studying 12 hours a day. Who wants to do that? When all it takes is 4. America is doing this on purpose to fleece America by the fine print of corruption.

Truancy laws are on the books for a reason. NCLB encourages schools to enforce them. Teachers have no power, true--but schools can and SHOULD be sending truancy officers out to make fines and arrests. How can a school educate a child who isn't there? Enforcing truancy laws is a necessary first step to educating all children and is very much within a district's power.

YES, most special ed kids should be able to handily meet the very MINIMAL requirements under NCLB. The standards are so laughably low that schools should be ashamed at scrambling for excuses like "oh, but some of our kids are poor and some minority...and some are special ed." No, duh, folks. That's why the standards are so low. You're not being asked to make a kid of IQ 70 match the performance of a kid of IQ 130. You're being asked to make just about all the kids in school meet the performance of a well-taught kid of 70. And all but a tiny, tiny number of kids SHOULD be able to do this.

Eventually, even the apparently high-achieving school districts should be made to feel the pain by having kids' expected gains plotted next to their actual gains, based on what they did the previous year. That's in the future, though. Now we just have to get everyone possible above the threshold of total incompetence.

As far as 7 or 10 kids not being ready for college... This should surprise no one! We have one of the highest college attendance and graduation rates in the WORLD, and yet less than 25% of our students graduate with a bachelor's. Other countries aren't doing a better job than we are of preparing more kids for college. They're just not lying to the kids by telling them that everyone with a HS diploma is college-ready, or even should be.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "z" in the field below:

2011 Valedictorians and Salutatorians
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Education news
• InsideEd's glossary of education jargon

School closings and delays's school closings database is designed to provide up-to-date, easy-to-access information in the event of inclement weather.

Find out if your school is participating and sign up for e-mail alerts.
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Spread the word about InsideEd
Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected