To meet No Child Left Behind targets, many states set easy goals in the early years, then projected schools would make very rapid progress in later years, reports the New York Times. Officials hoped the law would be changed by now to lower targets. We’re not going to get 100 percent of students to proficiency in reading and math by 2014, unless “proficiency” is redefined as “sentient.” And not even then.
In about half the states, the balloon payment on progress is coming due.
Here in California, which in 2002 had only 13.6 percent of students proficient in reading, officials promised to raise that percentage on average by 2.2 points annually from 2002 to 2007, but starting this year greatly accelerate the progress, raising the percentage of proficient students by 11 points per year through 2014.
Now that the time has come for that accelerated improvement, California schools are not keeping up. This year, about half the stateâ€™s 9,800 schools fell short.
Alabama is letting schools claim adequate progress by counting half the students who scored in the “partial mastery” category as proficient. I guess the theory is that Johnny learned half the material he was supposed to in fifth grade so he counts as half a proficient student.
NCLB will be changed in the next administration, though it may take time for Congress to get around to it. I wonder what percentage of children we’ll agree to “leave behind.” Probably, we’ll see broader exemptions for special-education students and English Language Learners plus a progress formula that will reward schools for improving students’ skills, even if they’re not on target to reach proficiency for several centuries.