teachers not only lack the physical materials they need to instruct, such as textbooks and computers, but also the intangible but often more important supports such as parental involvement and administrative backing. These schools’ administrations are also less likely to
Pietro 10 have the means to invest in teacher development, which would help the teachers learn how to work with inadequate resources. The capacity problem is intensified by the redistribution of teachers due to working conditions described above, as less able teachers are left without the resources of talented peers as well. The perpetuation of inequalities at the school level is compounded at the state level due to uneven standards across states. Even though NCLB appears to hold schools to strict standards, the level of those standards is set by the individual states, and some are much more stringent than others. For example, a few states’ proficiency standards for fourth and eighth grade mathematics tests, such as those of Tennessee and Georgia, are so low that students with proficient scores would not even achieve the basic level on NAEP. Very few states, such as Massachusetts and South Carolina, hold their students to equal proficiency standards to those of NAEP, but a small group has standards that are almost equivalent, putting these more ambitious states at a greater risk of missing AYP (Murnane and Papay 154). Schools in states with easy tests and low bars set for proficiency can easily make AYP, avoiding not only the sanctions for failing schools but also the demonstration of any lack of subgroup proficiency, evading the objectives of the Act altogether. Due to lax state standards, the effect of subgroups on diverse schools, and low- performing schools’ lack of capacity, students in the subgroups spotlighted by NCLB have not made considerable progress. This failure is supported by Cooper, who finds that white students have made similar gains to minority students over the past ten years, leaving achievement gaps largely unchanged. Moving Forward No Child Left Behind certainly did some things right, and it is not the complete bane to education many believe it to be. Ten years out, however, it is time to revisit and rework those
Pietro 11 parts of the Act that are not working as they should. The ideas behind NCLB are still promising and the goals are still worth pursuing, but in many cases, the schools need a new means to the same end. AYP targets need to be lowered across the board, and the timeline must be extended. The growth rate of AYP targets is far too rapid for the schools to keep pace, and the dates by which certain score benchmarks must be reached have become unfeasible for all schools, regardless of their starting points. The goal of 100% proficiency by 2014, while honorable, is simply impossible, especially without further investment in the schools’ capacity.
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- Spring '14
- No child left behind Act, NCLB