Low Standards

It’s OK to criticize No Child Left Behind, it does have some problems (something hardly anyone denies), but critics should at least have their facts straight. In an article in The Nation Deborah Meier argues that NCLB sets impossible goals because it requires all students to score in the top 25th percentile. It doesn’t. She also writes that NCLB “literally dictates the books we are allowed to use on a national basis.” Again, no. Just like the claim on the Washington Post op-ed page last summer that NCLB requires all students to achieve at the 40th percentile or the oft-repeated claim that NCLB requires all students to be above average on norm referenced tests (a statistical impossibility) these incorrect assertions serve only to confuse the debate about the law. Although NCLB is complicated, it would be nice to see publications establish a higher threshold for accuracy about discussing it than now exists (and lower than would likely be tolerated on most policy issues, something everyone who cares about education should be bothered by).

Meier also bemoans the unfairness of property taxes to fund education — and she’s exactly right. But, it’s going to take quantitative data not open-ended pleas for more funding to remedy this problem. And guess what? NCLB provides that data, which is another reason liberals should like it…and why some like these and these do.

Huh? Afterthought: Meier also writes that, graduation rates “have been disguised for years by the very folks who support NCLB”. Umm…states and school districts have obscured graduation rates and many of them seem less than enthusiastic about NCLB…while NCLB supporters seem pretty serious about getting accurate data.

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