NCLB, Race and Public Understanding

Ken Adams takes to town the perceived bias in an AP article this week about No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Reporting of school test scores in the aggregate tells the system how the school is performing across the board, and allows the school teachers and administration to take action toward helping those students who aren’t making the cut.

The question is how do you know who is not making the cut if the data are not disaggregated?

NCLB has a lot of rules to it. The above may seem to be straightforward to one outside the system, but it dismisses what is actually happening in schools.

NCLB requires disaggregation of the data. Why? Because the way the law is written, by 2014, every student (regardless of race, sex, socio-economic class, special ed status, etc.) has to pass his state standardized test.

What will happen if all students do not do that? That is the big question. I suspect that money will be withheld from failing schools.

The way NCLB is written, long before then, administrators and staff are to be removed.

There are 40 indicators of whether a school is meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). If a school fails to meet any of those indicators, it is essentially in an “early warning” state. If improvements aren’t shown, that EW state escalates . . . eventually to removal of the administration and after that, staff.

As a prospective school administrator, this could be a concern. Do I want to walk into the fire, as it were, knowing my head could roll if my students do not perform? The answer is unequivocally Yes! While those on both sides of the aisle would rather reduce my benefits package and blame public school teachers for all that is wrong with America, there are some educators who actually desire to initiate reform and are willing to be accountable for the work we do.

Have you read one article that spoke about administrators being removed? No, of course not, because NCLB is being watered-down at every turn.

Yet, schools, both here in NJ and across the nation, are not meeting the standards. All those 40 indicators have to do with how each sub-group performs on the test.

While as a whole a school may be functioning well, if black girls on the free-lunch program, or special ed boys, or any other “bundle” of demographics do not meet the goal (10% increase from the previous year’s BM), then the school has failed.

What happens then is that the schools scurry about trying to raise the scores of those who are deficient . . . often to the detriment of others. The “average” students receive little these days. It is all about catering to those in need.

Gifted programs are being gutted nationwide to pay for the extra services to those “in need”. Think of the effect that has.

This is what NCLB has wrought. I have been saying it for a dozen years now: the federal government has absolutely no role in education. None! Case law supports this. The Constitution supports this. Reason supports this.

Yet, billions are handed out nationwide (NJ recieves less than it contributes) to re-distribute wealth and weigh down an already inefficient system.

This isn’t about race, Ken. This is only about money.

Also blogged on this date . . .

2 thoughts on “NCLB, Race and Public Understanding”

  1. Bob,

    I know that NCLB isn’t about race, and my problem isn’t with the system of reporting scores to the federal government. They felt they needed to step into this mess because many schools weren’t doing jack to help any of their kids be successful.

    My beef is with the AP report spinning this as a systemic problem of intentionally under-reporting minority kids, when in fact 90% of them are being reported in their appropriate buckets.

    Excluding very small subgroups makes sense, statistically. Suppose you have a group of 9 black kids in a 300-student school, with 2 of them classified learning disabled and 3 qualified for reduced / free lunches. Those kids, under NJ guidelines, don’t get reported in a separate racial group because it is too small to be statistically meaningful (according to my superintendent, the state has set the cutoff at 20). But they do get reported in the reduced lunch group, they do get reported in the LD group, and they do get reported in the aggregate scores for the school. The school has the individual data it needs to help these kids succeed, and the feds have at least three different indicators of performance for the school that include them.

  2. I totally understand. NCLB is now “bundling” these sub-groups so exclusion does not occur. Last year’s data were the first to include this. That keeps districts from “hiding” certain students.

    My experience is that students are not hidden based on race, but on special ed classification.

    My contention whenever this arises is that everyone should want to report honestly. Making yourself look better now is going to hurt more in future years when all of a sudden these students appear and then “drag” down the school/district. I think most think that like EVERYTHING else in education, the system will change by then so it will be a non-factor.

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