by David Safier
Obama's Ed Sec said over 80% of schools could miss their AYP (adequate yearly progress) this year, up from 37% last year.
Does that mean schools are getting worse? In a word, no. It's all about balloon payment NCLB scoring.
No Child Left Behind set a target starting in 2002 of all students being proficient — passing their standardized tests — by 2014. That's impossible, of course, but it sounds good. What educator who wants to keep his/her job is going to say, "Sorry, we aren't able to boost student acheivement"?
The state boards of education were told they could say how they would pace their goal of achieving perfect mastery by 2014. So they decided to start out slow, then pick up the pace later. "My state won't make very much progress in the first four years," they said. "We'll start making more progress the next four years, then the last four years, we'll skyrocket to success."
If that sounds like those bad old subprime, no down payment home loans where you pay less than the interest you owe the first few years, then get hit with a huge balloon payment, you've got the basic idea.
It's just a few years until 2014, so states have to begin to pay the piper. But they can't. So fewer schools will make their AYP.
THE TRUTH ABOUT NCLB: The Bush administration's NCLB agenda was never about improving public schools. It was about humiliating them to make it easier to push school vouchers. If you set a ridiculously high bar which guarantees you can say,"Our public schools are failing," that makes it easier to say, "What we need is more vouchers school choice." The surprising thing to me is how few people understood (or understand) what has been going on. I chalk it up to lack of understanding about what's possible in education, and a dearth of cynicism about the Bush administration's agenda, about which it always was impossible to be too cynical.