Thompson: Building On Disaggregation
NCLB supporters have been celebrating the law's tenth anniversary by savaging the educators who had the temerity to challenge the self-evident righteousness of data-driven accountability. Opponents have been citing NCLB's failure to improve student performance, while recounting the damage it did to the children it was supposed to help. Jack Jennings's take on NCLB in Education Week best exemplifies the retrospectives by pragmatists, who cannot afford to say aloud that NCLB has been a disaster. After all, he has to work with "reformers" who saw the law as a crusade and who demanded a pound (or more) of educators' flesh. Jennings asks us to imagine a world without NCLB. "We would not know ... the specific achievement gaps between various groups of students." Also, we "would not have made as many efforts to reduce those gaps." Without NCLB, we would not "have focused as intensively on improving the lowest-performing schools," and "teachers would not have available extensive data on student academic performance." Finally, "Improving student achievement would not have been such an intense subject of public debate." Jennings is diplomatically silent about the lack of results from all of that focus, effort, data, and intensity. I wish he would be more explicit, however, in calling for a new reform that builds on NCLB's strength - disaggregated data. - J T (@drjohnthompson)Image via.