Tuesday, March 22, 2005

No Child Left Behind Act Is Stifling State Innovations in Education by New York State Sen. Steve Saland

This guy happens to be a republican but this is not necessarily a partisan issue. This article is from the Kanasas City infoZine. Here Sen. Saland talks about the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recent report. They recommend 43 ways to change the law. Some of what the senator discusses: "...The rigid and inaccurate yardstick that No Child Left Behind uses to measure student improvement was itself left behind by many states as they fine-tuned their accountability efforts. The federal measurement compares, for example, this year's fifth-graders to next year's fifth-graders. Many educators complain that it is not a valid way to evaluate student progress.

Some states, in the pre-NCLB days, developed better models. California, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia were using more sophisticated and accurate systems that gauged the growth of individual students, not just groups of students and entire schools. NCLB allows states to draft their own plans for meeting the goals of the law, and those plans are subject to federal approval. None of those states was allowed to continue using its own system under NCLB. The federal law undermined innovative approaches like these...." and "...NCSL's task force recommends that Congress and the Bush administration reconsider the law's 100 percent proficiency goal. While that's certainly a laudable aim, under the current student proficiency measurement scheme, it is not statistically achievable. Not when disabled students who are permitted individualized education plans under civil rights law are expected to perform at grade level. Not when English learners in their third year in the country are expected to perform at grade level, regardless of their language and academic skills when they came into the United States. Not when the law expects perfection, but fails to acknowledge differences in schools and students....And certainly not when there are consequences that actually divert money and energy from teaching...." He concludes "... It's time to prune the law. State legislators have handed Congress and the administration the hedge clippers..."

We agree, and while we're at it, let's change the shape.

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