There is a lot of angst and upset in Virgina over this year’s “adequate yearly progress” results under No Child Left Behind. 62 percent of schools didn’t meet performance targets, a sharp jump from last year. Everyone is outraged about the law. After all, 99 percent of schools around the state are accredited, right?
Well, here’s a different way to look at it. 14 percent of African-American 8th-graders in Virginia score proficient or better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (and only 40 percent of white students do) in reading. Just one in four boys in Virginia is proficient or better, too. Mathematics isn’t really any better. Given that backdrop, is it really so surprising that when a law comes along that requires the use of disaggregated data – so overall averages can’t obscure big pockets of low-performance – 60 percent of schools need to do better?
No Child Left Behind is hardly perfect, but it is pointing out in a pretty uncomfortable and quite important way that Virgina’s approach to school accountability and accreditation obscures the struggles of too many of the Commonwealth’s students. Don’t shoot the messenger, heed the message.