Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Child Left Behind

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 plays a big part in my life and in the lives of teachers around the country. So what is it? There is a very good page that covers is quite well on Wikipedia here.

Here is a brief description of the law from that article.

NCLB is the latest federal legislation (another was Goals 2000) which enacts the theories of standards-based education reform, formerly known as outcome-based education, which is based on the belief that setting high expectations and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.

In other words, No Child Left Behind provides for testing students, in the hopes that this will make them achieve more and hopefully learn more. This is the same philosophy that imagines that if you simply step on the scales every day, you will lose weight.

The other big part of NCLB, is the increasing levels of expected performance. In order to meet NCLB a school must show that 50% of its students are proficient in Math and Language Arts. Then the next year, students must be 60% proficient. And the levels increase each year until at some point schools are to have all students testing proficiency. This moving target is called AYP, or Adequate Yearly Progress. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say AYP, I could retire and hire a private tutor for each of my 165 students.

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