To the Editor:
I enjoyed reading your article “Researchers Ask Whether NCLB’s Goals for Proficiency Are Realistic” (Nov. 29, 2006). But I was discouraged, as I am so often, by the sheer lack of knowledge on the part of those who create and enact educational policy.
From my perspective, there is no realistic hope that our state will achieve 100 percent proficiency by 2014, as the federal No Child Left Behind Act mandates. This is not because of anything our skilled and dedicated teachers and administrators do or do not do. It is more a function of the state’s test and how rigorously its performance cut-scores are set. Realistically—and mathematically, based on the normal curve—it will be impossible for South Carolina to achieve “proficiency for all.”
I’m not surprised that some state leaders and members of Congress don’t want to make significant and realistic changes to the federal law. This is probably because their states look pretty good when it comes to NCLB outcomes. South Carolina would look pretty good, too, if we used their performance standards. But our state could, in fact, serve as the “poster child” for those that have set high standards with no realistic way of achieving 100 percent proficiency.
I look forward to more discussion that brings out the inconsistencies, unrealistic expectations, and lack of uniformity across the spectrum of states’ tests and accountability systems.
Jason B. McCreary
Director of Research, Evaluation, and Accountability
Greenville County Schools
A version of this article appeared in the December 20, 2006 edition of Education Week as Higher State Standards—No Chance to Meet Them