Schools fail to meet goals under 'No Child' act

December 16, 2011 12:20:52 AM PST
There's new research that shows nearly half of America's public schools didn't meet federal achievement standards this year -- in other words, they didn't make enough progress under the controversial No Child Left Behind law.

This doesn't mean public schools are failing, but it does mean that the current system to measure progress under the No Child Left Behind law is obsolete. No Child Left Behind should have been updated four years ago, which is why 39 states are asking for waivers until the law is changed.

Every year, test scores at Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland go up. The school even has a chart showing its progress, yet they fall short of meeting their goal under the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

"We are, in the eyes of the federal government, not an achieving school," said principal Moyra Contreras.

Since Melrose didn't meet its target for the past five years, it has been classified as a program improvement school. They're not the only ones that did not make adequate yearly progress this year.

Under No Child Left Behind, 48 percent of schools in America failed to meet that goal in 2011. California had worse numbers, with 66 percent of public schools not hitting their target.

California schools are making less progress in part because of English language learners.

"We have students that are just acquiring the language, that maybe came to the United States when they were in 4th or 5th grade with no English, and they are expected to be fluent in English at the level of an English-only student," said Contreras.

"Over time, 100 percent of America's schools are going to be declared failing under No Child Left Behind," said educator Linda Darling-Hammond, a top education advisor to President Barack Obama.

Darling-Hammond says No Child Left Behind needs to be changed because it no longer works as an adequate measurement system. The law should have been re-written four years ago.

"It's an impossible metric to meet," Darling-Hammond said. "The more you get close to the 2014 target, where the expectations for growth are steeper and steeper, the more impossible it is to meet the standard."

Everyone agrees it's time for a new law, but there are so many disagreements about how to revise the law that Congress has been unable to make the necessary changes.

Some teachers will say one positive thing about No Child Left Behind: Educators are able to see how specific groups of students -- such as African-American or Latino students -- are doing academically. This way they can focus more on those kids to help them meet their goals.


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