Education

‘Backloaded’ Goals Raise Questions About 100 Percent Proficiency

May 28, 2008 1 min read

While I was out last week, the Center on Education Policy released a report saying that about half of the states are delaying the pain for schools under NCLB. (See the edweek.org story from last week.) They’ve made it easy for schools to make AYP in the early years of implementation and are expecting (or just hoping?) that schools will escalate achievement gains when the goal of universal proficiency looms in 2014.

BoardBuzz and Joanne Jacobs compare this “backloading” to a balloon payment on a mortgage. Back in November, Kevin Carey released a report identifying such backloading as one of several ways states have made it easier for schools to make AYP.

With 2014 six years away, it’s a safe bet no state will achieve 100 percent proficiency. When the backloaded goals kick in, states will use confidence intervals, safe harbor, and other ways to let schools off the hook. (Indeed, eduguru gives a math lesson proving that the safe harbor makes it possible for schools to make AYP without coming close to universal proficiency.)

When Congress does reauthorize the law, it’ll have to answer the question: Does the federal government really expect all children to be proficient, or is substantial improvement good enough?

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.

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