For the first time in US history, an overwhelming majority of states now test new teachers. They also test nearly all students, including those deemed learning disabled.
. . . But the report also concludes that few states are on track for ensuring a qualified teacher in every classroom. Fewer than half of states, for instance, are providing high-quality help to failing schools. And many states don’t have systems to collect the massive amount of data required to meet the new law’s standards.
Sandy Cress, a senior education adviser to President Bush, says the complaints are a good sign. “It means that people are wrestling with it. Like Job wrestling with the angel, there’s good at the end of it.” (Great metaphor. Wrong Biblical character. It was Jacob who wrestled with the angel.)
Teachers in Pueblo, Colo., thought they were doing a good job educating mostly poor and Hispanic kids – until they started seeing statewide test results.
“We called it ‘CSAT shock,’ ” says school superintendent Joyce Bales of Colorado’s student assessment program. “People thought they were doing a lot better than they were.”
But the poor results on the 1997 program – a precursor to the NCLB Act – spurred Pueblo schools to teach, and reteach, all students until they could read.
“I fully support No Child Left Behind,” says Ms. Bales, who calls her district “the most data-driven district in the state.” In a recent study of Colorado schools that “beat the odds” in educating poor students, six of the 20 were in her district.
The law’s insistence on analyzing test scores by racial group is turning up low achievement in suburban schools that were viewed as doing well.
African-American parents in Lower Merion, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, were shocked to learn that 60 percent of black students score below proficient levels in a district known for its high performance.
“NCLB has uncovered data that had been previously buried in our district and other districts as well,” says Linda Heller, a member of Concerned Black Parents, a new local advocacy group that is using NCLB data to lobby for more help for low-performing students. One result: Special programs this summer to build skills for children who are below proficiency.
Progress is still “frustratingly slow,” she says. “But now the information is so public it’s impossible to look the other way.”
That was the idea.