Has Your Child Been Left Behind?

April 17, 2006

On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act. This Act gives our schools “historic” educational reform based on stronger accountability for results, more freedom for states and communities, encouraging proven educational methods and more choices for parents.

Now, lets investigate the “stronger accountability for results” portion of this Act:

Under the act’s accountability provisions, states must describe how they will close the achievement gap and make sure all students, including those who are disadvantaged, achieve academic proficiency. They must produce annual state and school district report cards that inform parents and communities about state and school progress. Schools that do not make progress must provide supplemental services, such as free tutoring or after-school assistance; take corrective actions; and, if still not making adequate yearly progress after five years, make dramatic changes to the way the school is run.

But according to this article in msnbc.com, States are helping public schools escape potential penalties by skirting the No Child Left Behind law’s requirement that students of all races must show annual academic progress.

How?

The law signed by Bush in 2002 requires public schools to test more than 25 million students periodically in reading and math. No scores can be excluded from the overall measure.

But the schools also must report scores by categories, such as race, poverty, migrant status, English proficiency and special education. Failure in any category means the whole school fails.

But, there is a loophole in the second requirement that states are taking advantage of. It allows them to ignore scores of racial groups that are too small to be statistically significant. So, because of this loophole, the AP has found that 1 in every 14 scores are ignored. Minorities are seven times as likely to have their scores excluded as whites, the analysis showed.

What happened to “accountability”?