Much of Barack Obama’s education agenda is too costly to be enacted during an economic crisis, writes Diane Ravitch in Forbes. However, the administration can move quickly to revise No Child Left Behind.
First, it should eliminate the goal of universal proficiency by 2014, because it is unattainable. Period. No state or nation has ever achieved 100% proficiency. Second, it should recognize that the federal government is best at providing accurate information, such as what children in each grade need to know to be abreast of international standards (that is known as the curriculum) and whether our children are meeting those standards (that is, testing); third, the administration should expect states and districts to fashion appropriate reforms and remedies for their schools.
Currently, states are allowed to define “proficiency” as they like. Many have set a low bar. If the feds set global standards for basic, proficient and advanced skills, I wonder what goals would be achievable. Could we realistically expect that 90 percent of students would master basic skills? What percentage of students could reach proficiency?