Yes Virginia…

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.

12 thoughts on “Yes Virginia…

  1. Matt Landahl

    Not sure if preparing kids to do well on Virginia SOL tests also prepares them to do well on the NAEP tests. I am wondering if part of our issue in Virginia is the low quality of assessments guiding instruction to a certain lower level and leaving many of our students unprepared for a NAEP test. An obvious look at the two pass rates tell me that a large number of kids doing well on the SOL tests are completely unprepared for the NAEP. Do states that do better on the NAEP use higher level assessments as part of their strategy?

  2. Fuji Smith

    Tests are meant to evaluate what the children have learned, not to evaluate if they know how to pass the test. They shouldn’t be teaching these kids to pass NAEP or to SOL, they should be teaching them math and reading!

  3. Matthew Ladner

    NAEP accurately measures whether students know math and reading. Apparently the SOL test does not.

  4. Kirk Downey

    The main flaw in NCLB is that it requires 100% proficeincy. 100% is not possible in human services. The next flaw is that the requirements curve will soon become nearly vertical for “lagging” as well as high performing schools. Those two factors will soon drop nearly 100% of the schools in failure.
    Our society needs proficiency measures to identify those students who need extra help or an alternative setting. But, blaming teachers and the system for what is at least in part, shifting priorities of the student population is an exercise in denial.
    More and more students are realizing, as has my step son, that college education is NOT a guarantee, or even probability of stable employment. That $40 to $200 thousand in student debt, at 10% or more in debt service is a crushing burden. That training in a trade may provide more security and opportunity for those in the mid-economy. That the mid-economy is less and less valued in our society. Face it – we in the secondary system are pushing “college readiness” when the students, who aren’t in the talented 10%, are reading the same papers we are and feeling hopeless.
    If our education policies can’t respond to the life needs of a our students, then we are merely tyrants telling kids the sky is blue when they can see the grey clouds darkening their horizons.

  5. Sandy Kress

    The question we need to ask is: how many of our young people are graduating high school ready for a good paying job or training/education at the postsecondary level?

    We might also ask how many schools are getting even 75 or 80 percent of their students, including disadvantaged students, ready for postsecondary.

    If the answer to those questions is not better than 50%, which is what it is, then we had better realize that the problem is NOT NCLB. NCLB is telling us the truth.

    We blame NCLB. We blame S&P. We’d better start getting the message, friends, and stop blaming the messenger. Otherwise, the problem will get worse and much harder to solve.

  6. Michael

    I think the focus is totally out of whack . The focus needs to be put on entreperneurship . With the growing unemployment , students need the skills that will gear them for self employment . All these fancy slogans , Like No Child left behind , is just that , Fancy slogans.

  7. Rikesh (Batten School)

    Although, obviously, going to college doesn’t “guarantee” anyone a job (as I am just now personally finding out), the fact is that those who have college degrees have a MUCH lower unemployment rate. If you have a college degree, the unemployment rate is THREE TIMES less than if you drop out of high school:

    http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

    Although providing more technical training courses in college for those who would like to pursue that path is probably a great idea, the fact remains we still need to be focused on college readiness for high school students.

  8. The Scholarly Mommy

    I can see both points of view in this topic. I can understand how NCLB can cause life-long learning to be at risk. I can also understand a need for accountability in our schools, to help those different groups such as the ones you mentioned above. If only there were a happy medium, where we can have a little bit of both without compromising the other.

  9. Timothy Grivois-Shah

    It’s only too easy to point out what’s wrong with NCLB. I’m convinced that if Congress gets around to reauthorizing NCLB, accountability measures will move quickly away from assuming that 100% of all children will be proficient in every way and will move instead towards a growth model that expects students to grow at least one year in one year’s time.

    What is exactly right about NCLB, however, is that even generally high-performing schools can no longer pat themselves on the back when racially or socio-economically identifiable subgroups of students or students with disabilities are not growing along with their classmates. However NCLB changes (and I agree that change is needed), disaggregated data is one requirement that I hope remains.

  10. Robert Riley

    No one wants to be a teacher. The best, even from the charters are leaving.

    Those that can be convinced to stay are refusing to teach the very low students. They know that it is unfair to be held accountable for outcomes well outside their control.

    They can retire, or do other things.

    They are saying adamatly that THEY DID NOT CAUSE OR CONTRIBUTE TO THE POVERTY AND MISERY THEY SEE.

    So, Rotherham, what will you do about that? How do you attract the best and keep them there.

    The talented are NOT fooled by merit pay, or test score evaluations. They know that they can work for better pay, much better working conditions, and be around NORMAL people.

    So, where are ALL of these supermen going to come from?

  11. Robert Riley

    Parents want it all, but do not want to pay for any of it.

    This is the entitlement disease.

    Good education is a scarce resource and it is NOT A UNIVERSAL RIGHT.

    That is politics, and education is firmly in the realm of economics.

    The future is here right now. If you want it, you will pay for it, and you will NOT ask someone else to pay for it.

    Parents are right now FIGHTING to get their students in front of the best teachers.

    And there is NO ready supply of supermen teachers. No matter how much reform is done, the ONLY solution is MUCH HIGHER PAY.

    Go read up on the adverse selection problem. Economics DOES apply to education.

    Rotherham needs to figure that out.

  12. Rikesh (Batten School)

    Robert, Ed Policy analysts can account for teachers education the “very low students” simply by creating a pre test system to determine where those students are before the teachers instruct them. If this was done for all teachers, then they wouldn’t necessarily be held more accountable for students that are harder to reach.

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