August 25, 2009
Time to scrap No Child Left Behind
It was a lovely idea. When No Child Left Behind was passed into law, the plan was simple — make sure every student in America gets a good education by holding school districts to ever-tougher standards.But in practice, No Child Left Behind has not delivered, and has caused more trouble than it’s worth. As a result, Issaquah schools may pay a high price for it a few years down the road.
In some ways, the program actually succeeded. By highlighting problems that hadn’t before been quantified, it has allowed schools across the country to better focus their resources.
The law’s end goal — that 100 percent of America’s students graduate with a set of basic skills and can pass a test to prove it — is laudable, but unrealistic.
It doesn’t require a degree in statistics and educational testing to understand why. If everyone passes a test, all it really means is that the test is too easy to be an adequate measure of skills. No test should expect all students to pass, without regard to their ability to learn.
Washington is starting to have that realization now. Although WASL test scores released last week are good and essentially as high as they were last year, more and more schools are considered failing. The Issaquah School District is failing.
Parents, ask yourself, do you think your school district fails to provide students with the opportunity to receive a quality education? We imagine most parents agree Issaquah schools are excellent.
It’s the law that is failing, and it will get worse.
As the years creep by and the standards get tougher, more schools will fall into the failing category. If current trends hold, just about every school in the Issaquah district – and, indeed, in the country – will be labeled failing within a few years, even if the pass rate is in the high 90s.
Perhaps as soon as next year, congress will begin its discussion on whether or not to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. We hope that any bill that Congress considers will address the flaws in the current law and work to improve the education system. Standards should be high, but not impossible.