Take yourself back to those highly emotional, patriotic months after the 9/11 attacks.
In the midst of war, terrorism, fear and mourning, one bill passed 87-10 in the Senate and by a similar margin in the House — with equal support from both sides of the aisle. It was signed into law in January 2002 by George W. Bush, with the liberal lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, by his side.
The law set a simple if daunting goal: All of the nation’s students would perform at grade level on state tests. Every single one. 100 percent. Or as the name of the law put it, there would be No Child Left Behind. Here’s the formal language:
“Each State shall establish a timeline for adequate yearly progress. The timeline shall ensure that not later than 12 years after the end of the 2001-2002 school year, all students … will meet or exceed the State’s proficient level of academic achievements on the State assessments …”
So here it is, 12 years later, 2014. And the law, NCLB, is still in effect. All children, under federal law, are supposed to be at grade level.
Spoiler alert: They’re not.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the “Nation’s Report Card,” “proficiency” rates last year were below 50 percent for every racial and ethnic group, in both reading and math, in both 4th and 8th grade. The exceptions? Asians, in all subjects (51-64 percent) and whites in 4th grade math only (54 percent).
So, what is proficiency, anyway? Did the 100% goal ever make sense? What were the impacts of setting such a goal, positive and negative? And where do we go from here?
Proficiency, as defined by the law, ain’t nothing but a number. Morgan Polikoff, an education professor at the University of Southern California, calls it a “crude gauge of student performance.”
Please click here for the full story from nprED by Anya Kamenetz (October 11, 2014)