Education

Universal Proficiency: Possible or Not?

February 29, 2008 1 min read
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Can the nation meet NCLB’s goal of universal proficiency? Yes, says Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond J. Simon. No, say Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff of the Campaign for Educational Equity.

In a speech this week to the British Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, Simon said that he’s visited schools that already have achieved 100 percent proficiency.

“These schools believe that their students can achieve to high standards. These standards, and the expected behavior to reach them, are clearly communicated to the students and their parents. Highly qualified, effective teachers use data to guide instruction daily and they work with an outstanding school-level administrator who has knowledge and authority to effect change, reward innovation and enforce high expectations,” Simon said.

While some schools are having such success, it is unreasonable to expect it in every school, according to Rebell and Wolff, whose project based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“In place of the impossible goal of 100 percent proficiency, Congress should establish as its mandatory goal for 2014 the more achievable aim of providing meaningful educational opportunity for all children by that time,” Rebell and Wolff write in their new book, Moving Every Child Ahead: From NCLB Hype to Meaningful Educational Opportunity.

P.S. I can only imagine how confused Simon’s British audience must have been. Why would the United States have 50 sets of standards and 50 definitions of proficiency, they must have thought?

P.P.S. Rebell will give a lecture based on his new book at Teachers College on March 5. After the lecture, eduwonkette suggests you pass on dessert.

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

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