Posted tagged ‘No Child Left Behind’

Keep up the pressure in schools

July 18, 2011

I appreciate the frustration in the public school system over the latest round of annual math and reading scores under the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

Though math scores improved slightly and students held steady in reading, the number of schools meeting proficiency goals, called annual yearly progress, decreased because the goals got tougher this year.

It can give the false impression that the schools are doing worse than last year when student scores are actually a little better.

The frustration was perhaps best expressed by Kalani High School principal Mitchell Otani, who told the Star-Advertiser, “It is my hope that one day schools won’t be judged by one test, but will be judged by the quality of lives of the students we produce.”

I agree that the goals need to but more clearly delineated and reporting needs to be tweaked so parents and the community at large can more cleary grasp how the schools are doing.

But I don’t buy persistent calls to significantly ease up on demands and expectations as the perhaps unrealistic goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014 approaches.

Math and reading the two most basic — and objectively quantifiable — building blocks of a good education. Students who fall short in reading and math can’t excel in social studies and science, either.

If schools are graduating significant numbers of students who can’t read and do math to a minimum level of proficiency, if students have to take remedial courses to get into college and their career opportunities are limited, then quality of life is diminished and schools are underperforming on their most basic function.

Whatever its flaws, No Child Left Behind has been the main driving force in the last decade for gains made in a Hawai‘i school system that has historically resisted taking more accountability upon itself.

Until all elements of the school system embrace a culture of demanding accountability from within, we need the feds playing the bad cops.


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