In an earlier post I talked about the political firestorm that erupted when newspapers broke the story that the Obama administration had approved a No Child Left Behind waiver for Virginia set that set different, and lower, standards for minority kids.
Virginia state officials quickly backtracked. But it turns out that they had lots of company.
As Education Week reported earlier this week,
Given the flexibility to revise their academic goals under the No Child Left Behind Act, a vast majority of the states that received federal waivers are setting different expectations for different subgroups of students, an Education Week analysis shows. That marks a dramatic shift in policy and philosophy from the original law.
I have no quarrel with abandoning the unrealistic 100 percent proficiency standard . . . though I’m still puzzled about why the Department of Education can unilaterally rewrite a law passed by both houses of Congress and signed by a president. Guess I misled hundreds of government students when I taught them “how a bill becomes a law.”
But I’m still troubled by the report that almost all states, including Utah, have followed Virginia’s example.
“Offered the new flexibility, only eight states—Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Oregon—set the same targets for all students, according to the Education Week analysis of the 34 new state accountability plans. (Wisconsin has the same goal in 2017 for all students, but sets different targets until then.)
Here’s the report on Utah:
Utah Goals include: 76 percent proficiency in math in grades 3-8 for black students, 91 percent for white students, and 83 percent for low-income students.
And this doesn’t even address another big problem with the proficiency standards, which is how low many states have set the bar for ALL students.
Maybe rigid standards aren’t the best approach, though like some of the commentators in this article I wonder if far more nebulous “college and career ready” standards are really a good substitute for the admittedly narrow, but still hard data that basic proficiency tests provide.
But I really, really dislike writing lower expectations into law.