Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced that some waivers will be given to districts and states not achieving AYP. As we get closer and closer to 2014, it is more apparent than ever that the country can't achieve the impossible goal of 100% of students achieving at "proficient" or "advanced." What effect do you think the waivers will have on the future of NCLB? What effect should they have? What should happen to NCLB and why?
There is always a problem with trying to quantify education levels and to set targets of people reaching a cetain level of education. The NCLB is a perfect example of this flawed thinking. Producing targets that are not feasible is not a good way to motivate the teaching profession. As #9 observes, when an educational approach can be brought in that does not treat people and children like numbers or mere statistics is the question we should all be asking. Any waivers are not going to help NCLB targets to be met.
It sounds like we're all agreed that the idea behind NCLB was good - anyone who commits any amount of time and energy to education does so because s/he wants to help students learn as much as the individual student is capable of learning. We seem to all understand that asking for 100% of the student population to achieve arbitrary educational goal levels by arbitrary dates is not feasible for a multitude of reasons. The consensus seems to be that the waivers may undermine the impact of NCLB but don't truly address the basic issue - rewriting the entire concept of accountability for student educational progress to realistic, pedagogically-based standards that recognize the multitude of variables involved in talking about real, live children instead of statistics about anonymous groups of data. The question is how? who? when?
I agree with #7 that NCLB was completely political in nature, and call me paranoid or cynical, but the statute, along with the movement toward vouchers and charter schools, seems to have been designed to decimate public education. Those whom the gods would destroy first take away their educational opportunities. The destruction of public education is just one more way to do away with government and provide profit-making opportunities for private industry, increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and taking us one more step away from democracy. What NCLB has done to teaching, to students, to curriculum content, makes me want to weep.
Since NCLB and most of the education reform effort of the last ten years was political in nature to start with, that is, school reform was never really the goal, and since states can barely afford the tests that supposedly assess AYP, much less the extra instruction raising test scores would likely require, the government is looking for a way out. They are under enormous pressure to relent on the requirements--which were never realistic in the first place--that they have placed on the states, and they are eager to avoid looking like it has been a complete failure. So instead of reforming or repealing NCLB, they are simply granting waivers and saying it doesn't really count.
I agree with 5 in principle, but I also agree that in reality waivers will probably end up being the tool that undermines NCLB to the point where it will either morph into a new form or go away altogether. I think that the move toward Common Core is also going to help push NCLB off the stage. There are obviously some things that every student should know if he or she is to be considered educated, so the idea of a common list has some appeal; whta remains to be seen is how we will test for this, and what the carrot/stick will be. I hope that it goes back directly onto the students. I administered the 11th grade science NECAP (New England's NCLB test) this past spring to an unusually bright class, but I know the results won't be what they should be, because my students told me quite frankly that they saw the test as an intrusion, knew it didn't affect their GPA's, and really didn't try on it. This should come as no shock to anyone who has ever worked with teenagers, and it's too bad that my school's performance, and my own, will be judged by it.
I agree with both posts above about the effectiveness of NCLB and how it has sucked the creativity out of education. While it started with good intentions (under both Bill Clinton and George Bush)...to get American students competitive with the rest of the world in English, Math, and Science I think the goal to get 100 percent of students to be proficient or above is totally unrealistic.
As to waivers...I don't think I am for them. Either ditch the program, or don't...but to give one district a pass on missing AYP, and punishing the next seems arbitrary and unfair.
I, too, think NCLB has been an unequivocal failure, but not because we will never reach that absurd 100%. This abyssmal education law has sterilized education and has wrung the creativity out of so many teachers who are pressured to "keep up those scores." The pressure on students has made school an unhappy place for them and may have the opposite effect from that intended.
Good teachers always want to improve, but they want to teach, too, in the ways that they perceive as best for their classrooms and their students. NCLB has led to a drop in art and music education, areas that have been the salvation of many students. There is good research out there supporting the connections between music and art training and overall intelligence, and I have yet to see any substantial research showing the benefits of the kind of "drill and kill" teaching that the endless test focus has resulted in.
What concerns me about the waivers, though, is that the Department of Education is still looking for ways around the law and to tweak the law. Instead of trying to stall it or modify it, someone needs to stand up and admit that it was always the wrong way to go.
I agree with you that we will never get 100% of the students (or really anywhere very close) to achieve at grade level if we use any sort of decent benchmarks for proficiency. I hope that the waiver process is used to essentially eat away the core of the law that requires "AYP or else."
The reason that I hope this is that I do not think the law is good for our schools or our students. I do believe that we need to do a better job getting as many kids as possible to grade level. But I do not think that the pressure-filled, high stakes, succeed or be punished way of doing things is the way that is most likely to get us there. Sadly, I don't know what the best way is, but I think we've proven pretty clearly that NCLB is not that way...