Howard Dean vows to “dismantle” President Bush’s education reform bill, No Child Left Behind, reports Education Week. Oddly enough, Dean supports looking separately at subgroup scores for minorities and low-income students, but opposes annual testing of third through eighth graders. So what’s to analyze if the students aren’t tested at all? OK, he opposes “mindless adherence” to testing. What about mindful adherence?
It’s “ridiculous and impossible” for schools to make “average yearly progress” toward proficiency for all students, Dean told Education Week.
The No Child Left Behind law calls on states to test all students in reading and mathematics each year in grades 3-8. Public schools must ensure that all students are proficient — as defined by each state — by the 2013-14 academic year, and meet gradual targets toward that goal. The law also demands improvement for subgroups, such as racial minorities. If a school does not make adequate progress for two or more years, it is supposed to get extra help, but progressively stronger sanctions also kick in.
Mr. Dean contended that the adequate-progress demands were designed “to put public schools out of business.”
I agree on one thing: The idea that every student will be proficient by 2014 is ridiculous, unless “proficient” is defined way, way down. I think getting 90 percent of students to the “basic” level would be a worthy and challenging goal. But making progress toward proficiency is not ridiculous.
Here’s a summary of all the Democratic contenders’ positions on education.