What’s In A Word? asks Eduwonk.
. . . if you were to substitute “needs improvement” for every instance where the word “failing” is used in the public conversation to describe school accountability efforts wouldn’t the dialogue sound a lot different? Eg – “Under No Child Left Behind 48 percent of schools have been identified as failing” or “Under No Child Left Behind 48 percent of schools have been identified as needing improvement” are two very different things in practice and also sound different.
Federal law doesn’t refer to “failing schools,” Eduwonk points out. The official phrase is “needs improvement.”