There will be plenty of handwringing over the low percentage of WCPSS schools who failed to meet federal proficiency standards under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (See article). I could join in the chorus, but I won’t. It’s no comfort, but to many, the results weren’t a surprise. To reach 100 percent proficiency by 20013-14 – the federally imposed date – the percentage of proficient students must increase dramatically each year. The ever increasing bar, coupled with NCLB’s definitions results in lots of failed schools. That was the case here. The bar is being raised; but the number students able to reach it is simply not keeping pace.
Do our students need to do better? Of course. I’ll be the first in line for acccountability and standards. However, NCLB’s straightjacket one-size fits all approach and unrealistic goals are some of the program’s biggest shortcomings. WCPSS results and those elsewhere confirm we have a performance — and a testing problem.
Wake County and North Carolina are not alone in wanting relief from NCLB standards. What do you do? Let’s let the states take the lead. This week the Wall Street Journal ran an article on how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers are working to write a new state law to replace NCLB. Walker and Evers say they’re not trying to get around federal requirements. They are just trying to be more strategic in replicating success and addressing failure. Other states such as South Dakota, Montana and Tennessee are trying to do the same. It’s worth watching.