There is no doubt. The federal No Child Left Behind law’s (NCLB) stringent focus on boosting educational achievement for all student groups – including minorities, the poor and those with learning disabilities – never sat well with educators.
NCLB exposed a great embarrassment for educators. Our schools have not closed achievement gaps despite over 20 years of reform efforts in Kentucky and nearly a decade of NCLB emphasis.
Now, as NCLB faces congressional reorganization, educators and some others are pushing hard to water down, if not outright destroy, the focus on getting all kids to high performance.
This effort to water down the tough NCLB bill worries some who are in the thick of the struggle to lift minorities and others to better performance.
In “Low-Achieving JCPS Schools May Have More Options,” WFPL in Louisville writes that University of Louisville’s Craig Hochbein, who has been working with Jefferson County principals in the district’s Persistently Low-Achieving Schools, is concerned that turning control over identifying and remediating low performing schools back to the states will leave more kids behind.
Says Hockbein of NCLB changes currently being discussed:
“I think it can be beneficial. But in states in which there has been resistance in types of change, sometimes a lack of accountability can be a problem.”
That has certainly been true in Kentucky. Neither the now defunct KIRIS assessments nor the replacement, also now defunct CATS assessments ever had any penalty for schools that failed small groups of students. While the pending new assessment program will examine gaps, it remains to be seen if the approach provides enough weight to this area to insure widespread focus on continuing to reduce those gaps.
If congress returns major control over minority student performance to the states, will foxes again be guarding the schoolhouse?