Isn’t Not Existing the Ultimate in Being ‘Left Behind’?

Illinoisans woke up to a new sort of school report card on Monday, and many were not pleased with the result. As a resident of this particular messed up state, I’ll often focus on the close, personal disaster, but this is something that is going on all across the country.

No Child Left Behind exerted lots of pressures on schools. Even those that had been doing fairly well were now forced to show adequate yearly progress, meaning their decent students needed to keep raising the bar until they were exceptional students.  Sounds great but does it align with reality? So far, not so much.

Many schools in Illinois – most is my guess – tinkered with the definition of a junior, which helped them have higher overall test results. In order to qualify to take the test, students had to have reached certain academic levels in basic skills. If they hadn’t completed classes, the school found them to not be at a junior level and didn’t let them participate in the state testing.

It appears the intent of NCLB was for children who had spent three years in high school – irrespective of classes completed – to take the test, getting whatever scores they could manage, given their time in the system. The results of the new policy? Some schools showed drops in excess of 20%, comparing year over year.

States have tried various approaches to managing NCLB. Making the required tests easier and lowering the standards have happened across the country. The Common Core standards, which will take the state and its requirements out of the equation, mapping everything to country-wide standards is also sadly affected by lowered standard syndrome. I believe the passing grade for reading is 60% of grade level. So … if a child is able to read at 60% of GRADE LEVEL, we are calling that a success.

I always thought we called that a ‘D’ … as close to ‘F’ as things could be, alphabetically and ratings-wise.

A part of me just wants to yell STOP … stop with the testing games, stop with all the time teaching the tests and taking the tests and just teach the kids something. Reading at grade level, for example.

Instead of figuring out how to hide those kids who haven’t been sufficiently educated to pass, could we please try to figure out how to get them to grade level???


Categories: General


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