To the Editor:
In response to your front-page story “As AYP Bar Rises, More Schools Fail” (Sept. 20, 2006):
The increase in the number of “failing” schools under the No Child Left Behind Act should not be surprising—the system is designed so that failure is inevitable.
Last year, the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice released a study which found that approximately 95 percent of the schools in the Great Lakes region will be labeled as “in need of improvement” by 2014 as a result of not meeting their states’ current annual academic targets.
The study used state data to predict how schools would fare under the current requirements on adequate yearly progress, or AYP. Its authors, Edward W. Wiley, William J. Mathis, and David R. Garcia, assessed how much gain schools made in 2003-04 and used the data, along with each state’s established growth expectations, to predict how many schools would meet the 100 percent proficiency requirement on state tests by 2014.
The results of the study were clear: Regardless of the growth expectations set by schools in the Great Lakes states, massive numbers of them are expected to be labeled as failing by 2014.
The study recommends ways to increase student learning and improve AYP results, such as developing programs that focus on strengthening and including families; dedicating adequate funding for remediation and social infrastructure; creating varied, realistic comprehensive school evaluation systems; using aggressive confidence intervals and subgroup sizes to measure growth; and modifying the standards and growth expectations for special education, non-English-speaking, and migratory students.
If there are no changes to the current system, most of our schools are destined to be labeled as failing. The system is structured so that the question isn’t will schools fail, it’s when will they fail.
Great Lakes Center for
Education Research and Practice
East Lansing, Mich.