To the Editor:
Your recent article “Schools Struggling to Meet Key Goal on Accountability” (Jan. 7, 2009) is a warning shot about the pitfalls of the No Child Left Behind Act’s adequate-yearly-progress requirement. Anyone familiar with basic math and basic laws applied to a human population knows that more direct shots are coming.
Can we really guarantee that schools will reach 100 percent compliance with AYP by 2014? Statistics tells us this is impossible. Could the United States, just by passing a law, reach 100 percent employment by 2014?
What passes for educational reality says that those 54,000 schools currently in compliance are our “good” schools. Educators always knew that a large majority of them would meet AYP because they are schools with a strong local tax base, the best teachers, good home environments, better-than-average facilities, campuses located in safe neighborhoods, and so on. Under the law, we should turn these good schools into superb schools very soon. But what happens to those “bad” schools that have no chance of keeping up with AYP mandates?
I support the fact that No Child Left Behind has engaged schools to rethink, develop, design, and enforce standards that have made them more focused on their curricula. And I believe that children now receive a higher-quality and more consistent K-12 education.
But the dirty little secret about NCLB is now coming out. Universal compliance with “adequate yearly progress” will never happen. It’s a rule with good intentions, but is not practical or feasible when applied to an ever-changing human population and a system with too many outside variables.
Ocean Bay Middle Schools
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
A version of this article appeared in the January 28, 2009 edition of Education Week as NCLB’s Impracticality is Now Hitting Home