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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Thursday, November 30, 2006

An example of unwanted side effects of NCLB

The NCLB law is a federal prescription for supposedly "what ails" American schools. But this medicine has unintended side effects. (We will assume for the time being anyway, that they are unintended.)

Here is one principal's account of the side effects of NCLB on his school.

I am a principal at a small alternative school in Alaska. We have not met AYP (adequate yearly progress - which means increasing the percentage of students passing the tests until they reach 100%) for three years. Our students come to us after failing in the regular school system. They have low skills, most are low socio-economic status, and have a history of failure in school. Last year we would have made AYP if I had kicked out of school two low performing Alaska Native Students. The extra dropouts would not have made us miss AYP and two fewer "Not Proficient" subgroup members would have resulted in our making AYP.This year our Education Department is offering financial incentives to schools making progress as measured by NCLB. I think if I expel 3 low performing Native students and 2 low performing Caucasian students I will qualify my staff for bonuses. This is certainly not the intent of NCLB but it has become a statistics game. If we fail to meet AYP again I run the risk of losing my job and having my staff transferred. This year I had two openings in my building. I had two applicants, both were retired teachers that had worked in this building, and they were rehired. The State of Alaska has petitioned the U.S. Commissioner of Education to allow the state to use a "growth model" for determining if schools make AYP. This would allow schools to focus on improving the scores of all students rather than focusing on a predetermined level of proficiency. It has been denied...twice. For a school like mine, a "growth model" makes tremendous sense. My primary goal is to keep these students IN school. They have already proven that they have low skills and we need more time to have any hope of improving those skills. Even if we cannot get them to a level of "proficiency" or graduation we may be able to improve their skills and they should be better citizens giving a benefit to society.


Let us hope for everyone's sake, that no one, including Doug fall prey to the "statistics game" and start counting numbers instead of students. A growth model makes sense. At least in a growth model schools are held accountable for how far students have come and not where they start!!

We have students entering kindergarten who can read "Little House on the Prairie" and some who can't talk yet.

The one child could probably be ignored completely and still pass the state tests later, the other child might require tremendous resources and never be able to pass the test. The current accountability piece of the law does not distinguish between the two. A growth model could.

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