Back In Business

Big thanks to Michael Robbins who really tore it up the last few days, a lot of interesting posts below if you haven’t checked them out.

Picking right up where we left off, Sherman Dorn rounds up the narrowing debate. But in the process he misconstrues my position.

He writes:

…except for Eduwonk’s red herring about low bars, which essentially is that because states can set relatively low thresholds for proficiency, that eliminates the incentive to narrow curriculum, stuff test-prep into the kids up the wazoo, etc.

My point is not that the incentive doesn’t exist, only that the bars are low enough that it shouldn’t be the three ring circus this issue has become.* In other words, this is a problem with the law or a problem with the ability of a lot of schools to deliver a powerful instructional program. While I think there are multiple problems with the law, this particular issue speaks more to larger problems in American education and any meaningful accountability system will raise the exact same issues. So we can shoot the messenger as much as we like. Or we can confront some uncomfortable realities about American schooling right now.

*By way of context, in Sherman’s home state of Florida, in 2006-2007 for an elementary school to make “adequate yearly progress” under No Child Left Behind 56 percent of its students in grades 3-6 needed to pass the state’s math test and 51 percent the language arts test or, alternatively, the school needed to make some progress toward those goals if it was just falling somewhat short. Unreasonable? Cause to only teach math and reading? You decide.

One Reply to “Back In Business”

  1. I think the end of your entry nails down my interpretation of your entries and my point about that: absent empirical data about what changes behavior, the percentages required in level 3 on the FCAT for AYP isn’t a counterargument to the concerns people have raised about narrowing the curriculum.

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