Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Problem with "No Child Left Behind"

It's only one short proposition, but it defies the laws of mathematics (ironic, from an "education" law, no?)

Despite the many small reforms advocated in the Commission's report "Beyond NCLB: Fulfilling the Promise to Our Nation’s Children" (222 page PDF), not one word of criticism is uttered against the original legislation's most important and implausible requirement: "that all children should reach a proficient level of academic achievement by 2014" in math and reading.

The report declares this goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014 to be "audacious … morally right … and attainable."

What they don't mention about this demand: It's nuts.

"Proficient" is a technical term in Ed-speak—the second highest of the five levels of achievement in school testing, roughly equivalent to a solid B. So the NCLB law requires that all students be B students within seven years…just like in Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, "where all the children are above average."


So what are the results of this ridiculous "goal"? You guessed it:

Each state is allowed to concoct its own test to determine whether its own students have reached "proficiency," which the state can define however it pleases.

Not surprisingly, practically every single state cheats in order to meet the law. For example, Mississippi, that intellectual powerhouse, recently declared that 89 percent of its 4th graders were at least "proficient" in reading.

Unfortunately, however, on the federal government's impartial National Assessment of Educational Progress test, only 18 percent of Mississippi students were "proficient" or "advanced."

I would expect that the critics of Wisconsin's DPI (which has also jiggered its testing) would now look more carefully at the Bush/Kennedy NCLB Act--which Tommy Thompson did NOT do in the report cited above--and call for the repeal of NCLB.

Wanna bet on that happening?

HT: VDare

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