Popoham37222413 - ★★★ Congress, we’ve got ideas for...

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APRIL 2009 577 Image: JIunlimited/Stockxpert A lmost all educational accountability laws are enacted by well-intentioned lawmakers who want what’s best for children. Sometimes, however, certain features of these laws actually diminish rather than enhance educational quality. Such is the case with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The very name of NCLB, of course, elicits warm visions of a caring government’s assurance that nary one child will be neglected in our public schools. Yet, one of this cleverly labeled law’s provisions — namely, its adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirement — now causes serious educational mischief in the nation’s schools. NCLB, as most educators know, is the current incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), a landmark federal statute that, for the first time, lobbed substantial federal tax dollars into the nation’s public schools. Because the next reauthorization of ESEA will soon be upon us, it’s altogether imperative that the AYP flaws in this influential law be remedied. W. JAMES POPHAM is professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. ★★★ Congress, we’ve got ideas for you. Transform Toxic AYP Into a Beneficial Tool Adequate Yearly Progress is a flawed tool. But, with a few changes, AYP can become the impetus for educational good that its architects originally foresaw. BY W. JAMES POPHAM
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578 PHI DELTA KAPPAN An Unintended Malignancy In a nutshell, NCLB currently calls on schools to increase the test scores of successive cohorts of stu- dents, including several NCLB-designated subgroups. Incorporating an amalgam of federal and state con- trols, NCLB sets forth the general structure of AYP but allows states to 1) decide what levels of student achievement will be required for a particular state’s students to be “proficient,” 2) select the achievement tests to measure students’ levels of proficiency, and 3) install state-specific timelines to ensure that all of the state’s students will become proficient by the close of the 2013-14 school year. Given state-by-state choices regarding these three key options, it comes as no sur- prise that state percentages of AYP-failing schools vary considerably. Nonetheless, the NCLB requirement that all students earn proficient-or-above test scores by 2014 is having an adverse impact on schooling. This is because, though states can slightly jiggle their AYP timelines regarding how they’ll reach the 2014 goal, they still must satisfy this federal demand for profi- cient-or-above perfection. Schools that fail to reach their annual AYP targets soon become the recipients of serious sanctions (if those schools receive NCLB dollars) or public embar- rassment (if those schools don’t receive NCLB dol- lars). Avoiding those negative consequences has be- come a primary focus of educators at all levels of pub- lic schooling. Many of these failure-avoidance en- deavors by educators, unfortunately, have nothing to
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2009 for the course EDP 351 taught by Professor East during the Spring '09 term at West Chester.

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Popoham37222413 - ★★★ Congress, we’ve got ideas for...

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