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NCLB: Concerns About Eliminating AYP & State Standards

 While the initial news coverage made it seem like the NCLB reforms proposed by the President were (a) going to happen and (b) be a good thing, there are those out there wondering whether the proposal is as good as it sounds:

D0410IR2"Backing away from the goal that all students achieve proficiency on their state exams is a mistake in a field where nothing short of high-stakes testing grabs the attention of students, parents, teachers, and school administrators." (Obama’s education plan errs in abandoning ‘proficiency’ goal Boston Globe)

"If Obama follows fuzzy standards, he does the nation a disservice and is better off just limping along with the current, unimproved NCLB law." (Can Obama’s budget rescue No Child Left Behind? Christian Science Monitor)

"The standards and accountability drive of the past eight years has identified countless problems in our education system, and created a few of its own. Will Obama’s reforms start providing solutions?" (NCLB Overhaul to Abandon Bush's "Utopian Goal" Change.org)

"A move away from adequate yearly progress standards may raise concern from stakeholders who want to ensure that accountability, the most valued takeaway from the Bush-era law, is not lost with any changes." (Education Budget Signals Sea Change For NCLB National Journal)


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Mike Petrilli has a different take in Flypaper. He argues that the every child proficient standard has sparked a race to the bottom in state standards while promoting unproductive utopianism in other policy quarters.

it's easy to blame nclb's ayp for the race to the bottom, but in fact standards easing is a generic problem that could take hold under a new set of standards (and tests). the details would change, but not the same dynamic.

i'm not saying AYP is great, or that the state by state standards format worked well, but just that its problems are the same for any future setup. there's no waving a magic wand, and i think some of the folks linked to above are thinking about that.

Point taken. It's very hard to design policies that don't diminish the very goals they're meant to uphold. But is that a reason to cling to AYP in the current formulation? Policymakers get a lot of grief, but I don't envy them their jobs.


I've tried to look at AYP in every way I can think of to formulate a reform of it that would be less destructive. I can think of nothing. If ever there was a failed metric with no hope of being patched up, its AYP.

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