April 8, 2007

When 100% Isn't 100%

When it's NCLB proficiency rates.

It is often claimed that 100% of students must be proficient under NCLB. frequently this claim is followed quickly by the assertion of what an impossible task this is.

Of course this is and has been a giant lie from the get go as this Ed Week article makes clear.

The tests may also allow some schools to make adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act when they had not before. Up to 2 percent of students’ proficient and advanced scores on these particular tests, which the department calls “alternate assessments based on modified achievement standards,” may be counted when measuring AYP. Two percent of all students is equivalent to about 20 percent of students with disabilities.

The Education Department also allows up to 1 percent of all students in a state—equivalent to 10 percent of students with disabilities—to take a different type of alternate assessment and be counted as proficient for purposes of AYP. Those tests, which are the ones used with students with significant cognitive impairments, are less complex and comprehensive.

Get that? 2% can take a modified assessment (blind kids can take the test in braille, etc.) and 1% can take alternate assessment. Not to mention that 5% of students can be absent on test day. And, there's even talk of raising the 1% alternate assessment rate to 3%.

So, the reality is that under NCLB 100% can be as low as 92% (and perhaps soon 90%).

Keep this in mind when you hear educrats mention how onerous NCLB is.


Ross said...

My main gripe, as an educator, is that these terms that the Bush administration uses in its mandate, terms like 'proficient' and 'assessment based.' They throw these around like they mean something in this context, but when you're talking 100% (or even 92%) of public school students in the United States, they're very vague.

I'm a believer in giving control to the profession, teachers know best, and I think therein lies the answer to what a good educational system, that we've never seen, is. Too long we've been controlled by politicians who have zero background in educational theory or practice. We've gone from A Nation At Risk, which was very political, to NCLB, which is no less political in its nature.

If we want schools to improve, and all students to receive a proper education, teachers, the ones who teach, in the classrooms, everyday, and know these kids, need to be the ones assessing them, pacing their instruction, and meeting with peers in their building, not jumping through hoops for the pipe dream of our 'educator in chief,' mr. genius himself, W. Bush.

Looking through your blog, I agree with much that you say, but the alternative assessment issue here, you don't give much background to. Imagine a 11th grade student who is mentally handicapped, and has an IQ of 55. This kid functions on the level of a 4 year old. Now, you sit this kid down for the NCLB test, will they pass? No, of course not. It's ludicrous to even think that they could. I agree that the alternative assessments are a joke (for more information, look into what Texas has done for their TAKS test), but expecting 100% proficiency by one standard is in fact never going to happen.

Anonymous said...

"My main gripe, as an educator, is that these terms that the Bush administration uses in its mandate"

You mean, of course, the heavily bipartisan Congressional mandate, with strong Democrat support.

"teachers know best"

If that were true, no students would be doing "integrated" "hands-on" glitter projects, and grades would be assessed solely based on performance and would not differ significantly from test scores, I would not have to give my undergraduates crash courses in high school algebra, and my students would be able to write in grammatical sentences and paragraphs. Yet, none of these are true--therefore, teachers do not, in fact, know best.

allenm said...

You can believe whatever you want but public education results from the political process and the political process will remain in control of public education. That means a representative body, professional management, a hierarchical organization structure with teachers at the bottom.

Being in the bottom layer of a many-layered organization, there are lots of people who tell you what to do. That means there aren't many decisions that are left to your discretion, they've been made by higher-ups.

Other then believing, what would you change about the current system? Try to make it something that's remotely feasible. That would be a pleasantly novel twist on the "get the politics out of education" rant.

harriska2 said...

If I read it right, the tests can also be made simpler as an accommodation. I suspect his includes level testing.