They (test scores) rose slightly, yet they still failed. I am somewhat amused. Firebrands like Ken Cuccinelli went nuclear on the new health care plan because Virginians might be forced to buy a product. Yet, at the same time, no one has even raised an eyebrow over the federal government usurping the state’s power over education and mandating a dramatic educational overhaul that is costing localities literally millions of dollars.
From the Washington Post:
Average scores on Virginia’s Standards of Learning math exams rose slightly and reading performance remained static in the 2009-10 school year, but the vast majority of public schools across the state failed to meet new performance benchmarks for graduation rates and for students with disabilities, according to results released Thursday by the state Department of Education.
Fairfax County was the only school division in Northern Virginia and one of only 12 across the state — out of 132 — that met all benchmarks, compared with 60 across the state last year. The portion of schools that met state testing goals dropped from 71 percent to 60 percent.
The dramatic declines were due largely to changes in how success or failure is calculated in the state. “We had some big changes in the rules of the game,” said Charles Pyle, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education.
Forty-one high schools, including about a dozen in Northern Virginia, and nine school systems missed the mark because of a new requirement that at least 80 percent of students graduate with an advanced or standard diploma within four or five years. The previous target was 61 percent, and graduation rates were calculated differently.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said in a statement that Virginia’s goals for graduation are “aggressive” and that the initial results “send a clear message about the importance of graduating more students.”
A federal policy that allowed schools to bolster the passing rates for students with disabilities was discontinued this year, also leading to a drop in performance. Without the bump, 87 schools and 15 school divisions, including Prince William County, missed targets.
No Child Left Behind, the landmark 2002 federal education law, was created with the goal that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. Schools face sanctions if they miss increasing targets for subgroups based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and disabilities.
In Virginia and many other states, performance has risen steadily in recent years, and it has become more difficult to achieve year-over-year gains. The Virginia Board of Education received permission from the U.S. Education Department to keep the target passing rates steady at 81 percent for reading and 79 percent in math, with the stipulation that schools must exceed those goals.
Pressure is mounting for all states to show progress on tougher-to-reach students, by reducing dropout rates and improving gains for students with disabilities, said Jack Jennings, president of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy.
“Virginia has made substantial progress on goals that were considered highly ambitious years ago, but the question now is how to move on to the next stage,” he said.
To read more about NCLB’s impact on Virginia school kids click on the Washington Post.
To those who think NCLB doesn’t impact their child, think again. NCLB affects every school in America and a school’s success or failure doesn’t center around how well the average kids do. It is all about those 4 subgroups. The school operates around those 4 groups making the grade, whatever the grade is. Think of a moving boundary line that you must somehow jump over, with a blindfold on. that is pretty much what making AYP is all about. It isn’t just about meeting those benchmarks in math and reading in terms of an overall school grade. To make AYP, those groups have to show a certain percentage of growth. Its a blind goal. No one really knows what they must do to make the grade.
I would like to see the states all rise up in agreement and just say NO to the rigors of NCLB. If states and localities want to save money, then here is a place to start. Why don’t they do it? Who knows. Why did Congress renew NCLB? Who knows. Perhaps its that catchy title: No Child Left Behind. That sounds innocent enough. Who wants to leave school children behind?
The truth of the matter is all sorts of children are now being left behind. They are left behind because their entire curriculum in all areas of study is geared to the students passing the SOLs in Virginia. NCLB hones in on Reading/writing and math. A graduation component is now in the mix.
Talking to a school administrator about why NCLB is such a bad idea falls on deaf ears. Trust me, they secretly agree with you if you go in and complain. However, they will make up all sorts of excuses and give you platitudes over this horrible enacted legislation. Why? They are scared as hell over their jobs. The fatality rate for principals in high risk schools is morbidly high. Many principals currently in schools with a high percent of minority kids are known as turn-around principals. Those are the ones who come in and dictate programs to the faculty. If you don’t comply, you are transferred out (or beg to get out). Now the graduation component has been added to the AYP component, the stress should probably get worse. Preventing drop out is difficult at best. Without an engaging curriculum, which no school in the state has, it is nearly impossible.
Until the states simply rebel against this kind of federal instrusion, they are going to continue to be held captive, told they have failing schools, and never meet with ‘federal success,’ regardless of what they do. Talk about pouring money down a rat hole. The real test of Cuccinelli’s mettle might be if he decided to sue the feds over NCLB. Does he have the cajones?