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NCLB: Will Duncan Plan Ease Schools' Discomfort Too Much?

There's a lot of talk these days about teachers feeling scapegoated by school reform efforts.  But they're not the only ones.  Schools and the districts that run them have long complained that NCLB has "overidentified" schools due to just one or two pesky subgroups or a barely-missed cutoff.  Dockellis_cropAnd one of the main goals of the Duncan reauthorization proposal seems to be to reduce the type and number number of schools that are deemed in need of improvement.  [Or, as DFER's Charlie Barone described it, "to ease discomfort with a law that has identified roughly a third of schools in the U.S. as 'in need of improvement'."]  But I'm not so convinced that NCLB has really done such a bad job of identifying schools over all, and I'm not sure I'd rather have a system that under-identifies them any better.  To be sure, a school rating system has to be clear and comprehensible and generally accepted - but not at the cost of watering everything down and giving everyone but the worst schools a pass.


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Perhaps the law should more accurately identify their shortcomings and allow districts/states to use interventions that are more specifically tailored to those shortcomings. One of the big criticisms of NCLB has been that it smacked all schools with the same hammer, regardless of their particular needs.

what was the hammer of which you speak, claus?

it was a rating, a designation, a label -- a sticker.
even the ratings were vague and gentle: in need of improvement, school improvement i, ii, etc.

the reasons for the ratings -- subgroup achievement problems in one or several areas -- were pretty obvious.

and so many schools got out of it because they didn't have enough of any subgroup, or the kids hadn't been at the school that long, etc.

a rubber hammer, maybe.


When you get results from AYP such as happened in Florida, where 77% of schools were slapped with the non-AYP label, what's a state supposed to do? As I've argued in a bunch of places, NCLB treated all problems as if they're the same -- the need to make sure my kids and their peers are smarter and wiser than I am, the need to address schools that are mismanaged, and the need to identify and fix inequalities.

good point, sherman --

but AYP isn't as much of a make or break thing as it may sound, and NCLB didn't tell or make schools all to do the same thing.

some of those schools were missing AYP for the first time,
others have missed it every year since NCLB came along.

some missed for a particular subgroup, and others missed for several.

and, beyond choice and tutoring, there weren't any hard and fast requirements for what states and districts were required to do for these schools.

what's the breakdown of schools not making AYP by year?
you want the law to be more prescriptive?

Treating ALL schools the same may be a wrong strategy, but enacting the same structures, systems, and processes that are proven to be effective in other schools may be right. Some of these are teachers meeting regularly to discuss student data and act on it, school progress monitoring at least quarterly, and increasing the teacher knowledge and refining practice through ongoing learning opportunities for adults. In FL, schools under differentiated accountability (especially correct II and intervene) are seeing F-CIM (continuous improvement model) and Lesson Study become an integral part of how they work.

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