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3 Replies to “A Safe Harbor”
Why so nonplussed that one of the law’s authors now tells us that in Penna. only 61% of 3rd graders will have to be proficient by 2014? shouldn’t you be outraged that Miller’s main man drafted a law that allows one in three students to NOT be proficient after 12 years? The sky may not be falling but it seems like a betrayal of high standards and expectations for all students.
Last week we graduated 43 seniors, leaving about 80 to 100 of their original 8th grade class (which had blown the lid off test scores) on the streets, in jail, or dead. Our district has a graduation rate of 47%, but our school graduates about 1/3rd of it students. I guestimate that a couple of a dozen were pushed out by test prep due to NCLB. Last week, in the LAST BATCH of updates, dozens of “A”s (meaning unexcused absences) were replaced by “W”s meaning ????
Last year we were told that our scores were awful, but we (and the public) were never told what they were. When scores went up five years ago, it was banner headlines on page one. During that time we increased our exclusion rate from about 1/3rd to about 2/3rds.
But the year before we made Safe Harbor because Math scores doubled over five years, increasing the Pass Rate from 4% to 8%. We made Safe Harbor in English because four fewer failed. When you lose 2/3rds of your students, its no biggie to lose four students.
Charlie would label the tricks I complain about as loopholes. His Safe Harbor isn’t a loophole because he intended to write the law that way. But the State intended to write its rules the way it wrote them. It looked to Ohio which got a sweet deal because of its importance in 2004 and copied it. The district intended it credit recovery and absence policy to function the way it did, getting us off the hook as much as possible. (by the way, when math scores doubled state-wide it was front tpage. Nowhere was it reported that cut scores were changed. Want to guess whether Biology scores double this year?)
Maybe the sky won’t fall according to our Enron accounting system. But the sky is falling on real world students who are suffering as the adults play games with numbers.
Our 3rd grade scores were low this year. I teach fourth grade. Knowing this is a low group, I’m already planning for modifications and support for reading instruction. But if their scores are low in the fall, NCLB will consider it “my fault.”