Nobody in public education today takes issue with the goal of No Child Left Behind: to work toward ensuring all students meet minimum requirements in academic performance. But the expectation that any district will achieve this by 2014 is unrealistic.
Most school administrators, teachers and staff members are not looking forward to 2014.
That’s the year when, according to the federal No Child Left Behind law, all students in all public school districts must meet the proficient level on the state assessments used for adequate yearly progress. Specifically how AYP is calculated varies by state, but the one constant is its mandate of 100 percent compliance.
Nobody in public education today takes issue with this goal. But the expectation that any district will achieve it seems unrealistic, many educators have said. If one student has a poor showing on the day of testing, the entire district will have failed.
Falling short on AYP has been a concern for many educators and observers since NCLB became law in 2002. As the requirements for meeting AYP have become more and more stringent, the mandate coming up in 2014 may be unachievable.
It’s not that administrators don’t want to be held accountable for students who perform poorly. They welcome the opportunity to see where they must improve their methods. But they’re most concerned about how AYP is determined and what happens to districts that fail to meet it.
Rather than comparing one year’s students with another group of students the following year, NCLB should adopt a growth-model approach. This method charts the progress of the same students as they go through the system.
NCLB has a worthy goal, but its implementation must be more realistic.
Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.