Thursday, October 14, 2004

How many schools can the government take over?

It's very hard to understand exactly what's going on with No Child Left Behind. It's confusing. But California, which yesterday released last year's test scores, sheds some light on the situation. Consider this from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The number of California schools facing possible penalties because they failed to meet federal test-score standards under the No Child Left Behind education act soared 45 percent to 1,626 since last year -- and educators say the bad news will only get worse next year when the requirements will be much tougher.

... This year, far fewer students in each school and district had to score proficient: Just 9.6 to 16 percent, depending on the age of the students and the subject. Next year, the rate rises to 26.5 percent. It will stay there for three years, then rise to 37 percent for the test taken in spring 2007, then rise steadily until 2014.

To sum up: this year, no more than 16% of students had to pass and over 1,500 schools failed!! That's about one out of five schools. Next year, schools must have a 26.5% passing rate so we can expect the amount of punished schools will spike dramatically.

If the schools don't meet those levels for several years in a row, the schools can be taken over and forced to implement "Program Improvement" which "could include replacing every school employee."

Wow. So much for a conservative President who tries to keep the federal government out of our lives.

As one teacher put it,

No Child Left Behind feels like a cruel case of adding insult to injury. We are working with a challenging population. I have students with parents who are in prison, others who are in group homes (and) others who are language learners. (The law) makes no allowances for any of this.



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