The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

What is a "failing school" under NCLB?

Recent news releases continue to publicize the "failing schools" under the federal law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). What is a "failing school" under this law?

Essentially there are 37 ways for a school to "fail" and one way to succeed. To start with, the definition of "failing" is misleading. Under the law, "failing" means the school didn't meet its progress goals that go up each year until the goal is 100% in 2013-2014.

A school must meet its goal of all children passing ISTEP tests by 2013-2014 and it must continue to have more students pass each year in order to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

In order for a school to avoid "failing" it also must have all subpopulations make progress till it makes 100%.

What are the subpopulations? Special Education students, Poverty students, Limited English students, White students, Asian students, African American students, Hispanic students, Native American students etc.

If any of these populations do not make their AYP towards 100%, than the entire school is labeled "failing."

Example: Let's say that everyone in the school passed the ISTEP tests except some Special Needs students with diagnosed handicaps. And let's say their AYP goal was 80% but only 75% of the Special Needs students taking ISTEP, passed it. In this scenario, the entire school would "fail."

By 2013-2014 most schools in America will be labeled "failing." Achieving perfection is certainly a noble goal to shoot for. However, labeling the entire school as a "failure" is misleading, and even disingenuous.

Here, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette lays out some of the NCLB issues.


Anonymous said...

I propose a similar new law: "No Congressman Left Behind" whereby they will be required to make adequate progress towards being perfect [100%] after THEY take the ISTEP test.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

Your comment reminds me of an activity I did once to demonstrate the challenging materials our kids are expected to know.

I once gave public test samples from ISTEP to a local service club and asked them to take the test and I would grade them. No one would attempt it because they didn't want to be wrong. But when I asked them to guess what grade level the questions came from they all guessed 9th and 10th grade.

It was a 7th grade math test BEFORE the ISTEP test went up in difficulty.

Anonymous said...

NCLB is yet another example of our country's politicians using the educational system for political gain. The public school system is an easy target that politicians use to gain votes through their blustering rhetoric. They demean the sincere efforts of those who work diligently to teach our children.

I'm just the guy footin' the bill said...

I just love to hear all this hand wringing about NCLB. I'll take a little cheese with my whining, thank you.

Impeach Bush, repeal the NCLB act and I'm sure everything will be OK. That way everyone in education can go back to business as usual.

I do agree that NCLB is used for political gain. ISTA uses it for political gain. IAPSS uses it for political gain. Everybodys' doin' it, doin' it doin' it - political gain!

I can easily draw a parallel between the NCLB and the role the government plays in business to OSHA, the health department and just about any code enforcement department.

It is just about impossible to be in compliance with every state, local and federal law on the books. But business all work so darn hard!

Give me a break.

Is 100% attainment of NCLB an acheivable goal? Probably not.

Is significant improvement an acheivable goal? Not according the the JG article, but then I don't consider that newspaper a credible source at any level.

With a headline screaming the standard battle cry that is the trademark of the JG, this problem has a simple cause: not enough money for education!

I'm going to say again what I've said before. Any organization that can't get good employees (and get rid of bad ones) is going to turn out bad products.

An employer as large as a school corp that can't let ineffective people go will never be able to improve the quality of work done inside its walls. Is that really too hard to understand?

Management has a job to do. Thin the herd. It will up the quality of the finished product.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

Dear "footin.."

You say you agree that achieving 100% is probably NOT achievable. Then how can you support a law whose practical implementation is eventually designed to label all schools not achieving 100% a "failure?"

Since when did not achieving the impossible become synonymous with "failure?" When educators point out the unreasonableness of this they are accused of whining or being against accountability.

I am not against accountability, just unreasonableness.

As far as your business analogy to OSHA regs. That doesn't work well either. Schools have to follow all the same OSHA regs that businesses do. I am not aware of any Indiana code cites that exempt us from those. But I am well acquainted with the 1,500 page INDIANA SCHOOL LAWS AND RULES code book.

Also, I am not aware of any law requiring all departments in all businesses in the US to achieve their quality standards in 100% of their departments or the entire business is labeled a "failure" and ranked annually in the newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Education as usual produced the people who sent a man to the moon, created the personal computer, and launched the numerous other technological advances that have happened in the last 30 years. How did we ever accomplish these things without state and federally sponsored standaredized testing? Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

"Footin's" comments comparing education to the private sector is unrealistic. Private industry has some say about the "raw materials" it uses to produce its products. Public education takes all comers and must produce a finished product.