By Julie Marsh
Accountability for ResultsIt all sounds good in theory. Granted, these high-level provisions don’t address details such as the logistics of implementation – how teachers and administrators (and even parents) will fulfill these provisions – but the intentions appear good. As set forth in No Child Left Behind (NCLB), “school districts can meet AYP (or adequate yearly progress) targets only if students in four subgroups, including students with special needs, show steady improvement each year on standardized tests.”
“H.R. 1 will result in the creation of assessments in each state that measure what children know and learn in reading and math in grades 3-8. Student progress and achievement will be measured according to tests that will be given to every child, every year.”
Expanding Options for Parents of Children from Disadvantaged Backgrounds
“Public School Choice: Parents with children in failing schools would be allowed to transfer their child to a better-performing public or charter school immediately after a school is identified as failing.”
“Under H.R. 1 a small sample of students in each state will participate in the fourth- and eighth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading and math every other year in order to help the US Department of Education verify the results of statewide assessments required under Title I to demonstrate student performance and progress.”
Promoting English Proficiency
“Under H.R. 1, all LEP students will be tested for reading and language arts in English after they have attended school in the United States for three consecutive years.”
More schools failed AYP this year compared to last year.How can a school be designated as "failing" when the criteria upon which that determination is made fluctuate from year to year? Under conditions like these, “comparing scores over time is like comparing apples to oranges.”
“Several recent rule changes by the Department of Education and changes in state accountability plans may have affected the number of schools failing to make AYP…These rules changes were counteracted by increases in every state of the percentage of students required to score at proficient or above on the state's reading and math test. This is unlike the 2004-05 school year, in which almost all states had the same threshold as the previous year.”
The number of schools found "in need of improvement" this year is slightly larger compared to last year.Is the label "in need of improvement" equivalent to the label "failing"? And if a school needs improvement, how is it expected to improve if a portion of funding is now used to transport students to a different school – assuming that space even exists at other schools to accommodate transfer students?
“This trend is especially significant because those schools labeled ‘in need of improvement’ who are receiving federal Title I aid for disadvantaged children face sanctions. The first time a school receives this label, all of its students (not just low-income students or those who failed to meet the AYP standard) are eligible to transfer to another school within the same school district. Districts must use up to 15 percent of their Title I funds to pay the costs of transportation for any students who decide to transfer. This school transfer provision is causing chaos and confusion for parents and educators, especially in districts where there are few spaces in other schools for these students to occupy.”
Many schools that received top ratings on state accountability systems failed to make AYP.I believe the above quote needs no additional commentary.
“The best example is in Florida where in the 2004-05 school year, 827 schools given an ‘A’ rating by Governor Bush failed to make AYP…Even the Norfolk, VA Public School District, given the Broad Foundation Prize for most outstanding urban school district, was labeled as failing AYP this year. These conflicting ratings confuse parents and the public and undermine the entire concept of accountability.”
There will be virtually no funds available next year to help turn around schools "in need of improvement."As noted above, schools bearing the "in need of improvement" label already have to use Title I funding to transport transfer students to other schools. And with Title I funding being cut further, it seems nearly impossible for these "failing" schools to recover.
“Under the law, schools labeled as ‘in need of improvement’ are supposed to receive additional resources. However, since enactment of NCLB no funds have been provided for the School Improvement grants program authorized under Title I…Because Congress has cut Title I funding for FY 06, the vast majority of districts will already face a reduction in their Title I allocation and most states will have little to no money available for school improvement.”
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