Thursday, January 18, 2007

To leave Children Behind -- renew No Child Left Behind

To Leave Children Behind -- Renew NCLB
Congress is reviewing No Child Left Behind . If you’ve seen the SAT results for MMHS juniors, you have noted they only partially met the standards – remove my kid’s scores from the averages and they failed to meet standards.

That isn’t a boast about how smart my kids are – though they have received a bit or recognition. It is a statement about the way NCLB is designed to fail schools.

For perspective, the Governor has proposed reducing the number of school districts – proposed district 6, our district, would have 2,204 students. I went to a high school, Brooklyn Tech, where that was the freshman student class population – 1,600 managed to graduate.

NCLB is designed to reduce funding to small schools, and force their closure in favor of schools which are not tested. It is an intention rip-off and more Right-wing deceit to attack the nation at its core.

First, it is designed to test successive classes – that is like comparing the progress of apples and pineapples through a cannery and refusing to acknowledge that the shared “apple” name does not make them both the same, or even real apples.

Right-wing Bushites argue deterministic legitimacy – there is none.

The obvious problem is that NCLB does not recognize that one class might have special students who aren’t in the next. Special can mean either especially gifted, or in need of special assistance.

In picking on MMHS, I’m just focusing on a school Machias knows. Change a class of ten students by the abilities of a single student, and you can move NCLB scores dramatic. At least, with the SAT, there is a well tested national standard.

My daughter Beryl qualified for Harvard – she only was second in her class. Imagine if the class one and two had been remedial students moving through the NCLB testing system – they would have been 40% of the results. Machias schools would have been failing schools in every test cycle which included them.

We do not have a school with two thousand students in each grade. A school with only ten students per tested grade means dramatically, negatively, skewed performance. This is what the designers of NCLB criteria depended on – it is what allows them to cut funding to “poorly performing schools.”

This year Congress is faced with NCLB renewal – it should be scrapped until someone designs a means to reliably test teacher teaching skills – rather than class size or one student’s abilities.

Here’s how it works, MMHS SAT results showed: Math 383 – failing is 380; Reading 413 – failing is 370; Writing 404 – failing is 350. Now, with 630 as exceptional, remove a student with a 600 SAT average on all sections.

In a class of ten, MMHS would have failed Math and lost half its margin in the other two sections. If we reverse that, 200 being the lowest possible score, remove a student who average 230 or less, and MMHS would Meet all Standards.

That’s right! One student moves a school a full classification up or down. Eight meet standards, and two students determine if schools Fail or Exceed NCLB standards. NCLB, like most Right-wing ideas, is a blatant fraud. Congress should NOT renew it.

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