I try not to talk politics on my blog, but this is a prime example of why I sometimes do.
You know, the government talks a good game about No Child Left Behind, but the government is as short-sighted about this as they are about everything else they do. Let me give you an example of what the No Child Left Behind Act really does.
As you can see in this article, a large percentage of MA schools are failing to achieve the goals set forth for them. Are they really failing? No, they aren't.
My local school gets a report every year that says we're failing in two areas...ESL (English Second Language) and Special Needs Classrooms. I'll refrain from my rant about Special Needs testing. How do you benchmark a child who is not only SPED but also may not be capable of testing or willing to be tested?
What about ESL? My local schools deal with a huge transient population, with not one but two homeless shelters in the area, with twice the state average of non-English speaking students, and remember that transient population? A decent percentage of these kids go to live with family in non-English-speaking countries for long school vacations, sometimes returning to school up to a week late. They have no burning urge to learn English, since they spend 16 hours a day in a household that speaks their native language, and they spend every holiday or summer in an entire country that accommodates them. To boot, their parents don't make it an issue to learn English. Then again, some of the parents speak no English, so even halting English is better than theirs. Oh, and that transient population? We have new ESL students move in every year.
It's a vicious cycle that the schools cannot hope to recover from. It's not that they are failing. It's that the standards set by the idiot government officials do not take any of this information into account. As long as their "failure" or "success" is tied to factors the schools cannot possibly control...nor is it a steady progression of an ESL child in Kindergarten becoming proficient in English by third grade, when testing begins... The schools have been set up to fail, and as long as the system grades them in this manner, they will seem to fail, even when they are succeeding.
Notice that the only two subgroupings that my local school fails in are ones that they have no hope of succeeding at. They aren't "failing." They have a fixed vote against them.