Monday, April 11, 2011

Hey, no kidding

Wow, Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan told Congress that about 82% of schools would be considered failing under the current terms of No Child Left Behind.  That’s very interesting.  Too bad this was basically the sentiment from teachers years ago when we were shown the famous “hockey stick” graph.  It showed that around 2007, the projected “proficiency rating” for students was going to spike at an impossible pace.  All students, 100%, would be proficient by 2014. 

I remember sitting in the meeting looking at this graphic.  I remember the murmurs from the teachers and the exclamations that such gains were going to be impossible.  We glanced at each other and tried to figure out what we were going to do by 2014 to create the impossible.  The consensus amongst most teachers; this was unachievable and would probably pass as another fad attempt by politicians.

It didn’t go away and the impacts on the school were pretty severe.  Even our department, a group that changed the foundation of their teaching practices with standards based common assessments, Professional Learning Communities, and a very collaborative atmosphere, could not reach 100% proficiency, although we did make significant gains.  In the end, NCLB might have tried to get education going in a better direction, but the plan has sacrificed much to the alter of politics; alienating nearly all parties involved in Education while not coming close to the 100% goal.  And in the end it conveniently missed the key issue of actually making Education a priority in society.  I was also a strong opponent of Race to the Top, a plan that was basically a one time payoff that would end up being an unfunded mandate.  Sure enough, some states that took the money aren’t doing much of anything and are still left with requirements that they can’t meet.  

It’s not that teachers don’t want success, but what do you think doctors would do if you made zero heart attacks the goal, or what would the police do if you made zero crime the goal?  The answer is that it wouldn’t happen.  And what’s worse, NCLB makes it all the harder to take society and our Government seriously.  

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