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The NCLB hockey stick

Original post made on Sep 25, 2009

Many educators were nervous nearly 10 years ago when President George W. Bush decided to add a huge federal presence to schools all over the country.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (14)

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Posted by Steve
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Once again, the Voice misses the major points. The main goal of NCLB was to ensure that schools meet grade level standards, to ensure that kids in low-income areas get a fair chance at a quality education.

If you're not in agreement with the goals of NCLB, then you are perfectly happy with schools teaching below-grade-level standards and acting as if nothing is wrong.

The result will be children "graduating" from high school without the basic skills that a high school diploma once ensured. The effects will be disastrous.

NCLB rules don't "punish" schools, they highlight areas of concern and failure. They also signal to the public which schools and districts are potentially failing and money pits of taxpayer dollars, where year after year money is spent, and results are not delivered. Then they blame the victims.. "oh, it's the students' fault, it's their socio-economic status," etc.

If by 2014 schools do not reach the NCLB goals of 2014, then don't kid yourself into thinking that these sames schools are providing a minimum quality education. They won't be. National standards will drop, and our future populations won't be able to compete. Even the Obama administration recognizes this, and will never make serious changes to NCLB.

The paper would do better to point out where NCLB has turned schools around. There are plenty of examples. In the MVWSD, however, there has been a campaign to make NCLB the villain. The superintendents would love to see it go away, and then continue to whine about how there needs to be more money put into the schools. All the while, their salaries rise.

The problem needs to be approached differently. IF NCLB illustrates problems, attack the problem. Get rid of the current administration and hire new ones. Start over. Do something, but don't just sit their and whine and make up excuses and call NCLB flawed. It is theoretically and statistically sound (the premise is always that somehow a bunch of idiots drew it up, and had no idea what they were doing). NCLB is really about accountability, and when it come to anything the government does or provides, we'd be wise to continue to demand accountability.

And parents, if your child is in a school or district identified as in PI by NCLB, move your kids to one that isn't. If you don't, your kids will not be able to compete in the future economy.

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Posted by Denis
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm

One big word missing in this editorial: accountability. That's what NCLB is about. Schools should be forced to comply with federal guidelines if they are receiving federal money! Have we all forgotten just how bad shape CA schools are in, to include MV schools?

The schools have never liked NCLB because it puts them on the spot. Go figure... holding a public, taxpayer-funded organization such as a school district accountable! Of course they'd all like to see NCLB go away.

If Johnny is hitting the 40% mark in 3rd grade, then hitting 45% competence in 4th grade is awesome! But sooner or later, Johnny will have to face the sad truth that he will never be able to catch up without NCLB lighting a fire under the arses of the school district.

But we will see if Obama eliminates NCLB. Then Johnny will be able to graduate from high school in MV. Let's just hope he can first pass the High School exit exam that these same administrators are so eager to get rid of as well

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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 27, 2009 at 6:13 pm

NCLB is not going away. And the Voice is obviously in bed with the school district to make it seem like the bogey man.

NCLB was shepherded through the Senate by the then-very-liberal Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the bill's sponsor and received NCLB overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.

Those most against NCLB are school administrators who facing losing their jobs for delivering poor performance year after year. Students can only win from it.

Erin Dillon and Andy Rotherham, K-12 education experts at Education Sector, spelled out the consequences of not making Adequate Yearly Progress for a number of consecutive years in a July 2007 report.

If readers study the consequences carefully, they will find that NCLB only seeks to guarantee action after years of inaction and excuses.

Year 1 of Missing AYP: There are no consequences for the first year a school misses AYP.

Year 2 of Missing AYP: If a school misses AYP for a second consecutive year, it is identified as “in need of improvement.” The school must develop a two-year improvement plan in consultation with parents, school staff, and the school district. The plan should address core academic subjects and any specific subjects the school is struggling with. Students enrolled in the school now have the option to transfer to another school within the school district that has not been identified as “in need of improvement.” Priority is given to the lowest achieving students from low-income families enrolled in the school.

Year 3 of Missing AYP: If a school misses AYP for another consecutive year, the school must continue to offer students the option to transfer to another school, and must offer tutoring and other “supplemental education services” to students.

Year 4 of Missing AYP: If a school misses AYP for a fourth consecutive year, the school is identified for “corrective action.” Corrective action involves more serious steps to improve the school’s academic performance. Steps can include replacing staff, introducing new curricula, bringing in outside consultants to help with school performance, extending the school day or year, or changing the management structure of the school.

Year 5 of Missing AYP: If, after a full year of corrective action, a school misses AYP for a fifth consecutive year, the school will be placed under “restructuring.” The school must prepare a plan for an alternative governance arrangement, which can include reopening the school as a charter school, contracting management to a private, outside management group, turning the school over to the state for reorganization, or any other changes to school governance that “make fundamental reforms.”

Year 6 of Missing AYP: If the school misses AYP for a sixth consecutive year, it must implement the restructuring plan developed in the prior year.

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Posted by gary spence
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2009 at 6:02 pm

I concur. NLCB promotes accountability, particularly for educating low-income minorities. Many voices against NCLB on these boards claim that the schools are doing fine. Well they are for their kids (which chances are turn out to be middleclass and white), but unfortunately low-income minorities make up nearly 50% of MVWSD schools and for those kids the schools are failing as NCLB pointst out.

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Posted by teacher
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2009 at 8:32 pm


NCLB has actually help improved schools. I'd like to meet all the educators that The Voice claims are against NCLB. Please print facts, not rumors or over-generalizations.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Accountability has it's merits, but the way that it is promulgated by NCLB often leads teachers to "teach to the test." While we obviously need testing, it's also clear that over-reliance on it can lead you to producing good test takers who are less likely to think creatively and independently. I have worked in high tech for many years, and believe me, I've known many highly educated people who fit that description.

While we certainly want to prepare students to join the work force, we also want our education system to produce responsible citizens. NCLB has not helped in that regard. Personally, I think this an increasingly significant issue in our society.

The 900 pound gorilla in the room is funding. You can dance around it all you want with anecdotes, etc., but you're kidding yourself if you don't think California's very low per-pupil spending has a practical effect in the classroom. Yes, it's possible to make up for some of that by being creative, but in the end money talks.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 29, 2009 at 11:00 pm

NCLB has not helped students become responsible citizens?? What are you talking about? I think you are talking apples and oranges here as if they are one in the same. First and foremost we want our schools to produce literate citizens. I guarantee you that with the development of literary comes the development of personal responsibility, creativity, ect. Basic research on pedagogy has proven this.

You also miss the point in the implications for MVWSD which isn't even producing good test takers in the under-served low socio-economic student population. Maybe you're talking talking about the high-end achievers.

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Posted by Gabe
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 30, 2009 at 6:39 am


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Posted by Vince
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

You want results in the classroom? Hire experienced teachers, keep class sizes small, and get out of the way.

You want to distract teachers from the classroom? Have lots of meetings, set numerous goals and tell them to track progress toward the goals, start a new program every few years, etc. This seems to be the MVWSD approach. NCLB doesn't help--it just adds more of the same.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:42 am

The problem is not that NCLB asks for accountability. Accountability is fine. Focusing on underserved subgroups is a good thing. The problem is the hockey stick schedule. Mandating something like 20% jumps (or whatever it is now) in a given year is all well and good, but it's absurd to expect that every school will realistically be able to do this. That's why NCLB does allow for safe-haven status -- schools who did not make the mandated percentage, but made significant progress in a subgroup. Another dumb thing about NCLB is saying that in 2014, ALL children WILL score proficient in EVERY GRADE in EVERY SUBJECT. Ummm.... second-graders who only started speaking English in Kindergarten will all magically be proficient? No, sorry, it doesn't work that way. Kids who move here from other countries in 8th grade, with no one in their family speaking English -- proficient because NCLB says so? Kids who have zero family support for their education, miss lots of school, whatever other family problems there might be -- the school will make all that go away for every child and they will all succeed. Because NCLB says so. Developmentally disabled kids, kids with other learning disabilities (dyslexia, etc.) are not exempted. This is simply absurd. These are some of the problems with NCLB.

The schools are well aware of the requirement for accountability. If any of the above posters attend any principal's coffees or PTA, ELAC (English Language Acquisition Committee) or School Site Council meetings, etc., you will know that this is a constant, on-going discussion. Not how bad NCLB is, but what steps the schools are taking to increase achievement among the underserved groups in the schools, what is working and what is not, what can be done better, where they need to target their efforts, etc.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm


Umm, actually yes many, many kids enter Kindergarten and are speaking English by second grade. Your entire argument seems to suggest that some kids just won't make it. Fine. Then don't graduate them from middle schools and high schools saying they are literate. Make the schools be honest at least. Your analysis above just wrote off the futures of a huge proportion of school-aged children in Mountain View.

Your entire criticism of NCLB tends to suggest that some (a term increasingly approaching a majority) kids in Mountain View will never really be able to get educated. Ever. Say it then. A vast majority of students, currently nearly 1 in 4 according to the State of California, will never graduate high school. Guess what. That's tantamount to a failed education system. Furthermore, you tend to suggest that all those "Other" students (for which you use the quaint term "underserved subgroups") from low-income and poor families are somehow a footnote in the education system. You even come close to suggesting that poor kids are developmentally disabled. You are a borderline racist, since it is well-known that that under-served subgroup as you call it are mostly Hispanic.

I read your comments and it's as if you are saying well there are white or Asian middle class students which the system was designed for, and then there are the troubled students growing in alarming numbers who will just fall through the cracks. Oh well. Boy, if we could just get rid of NCLB we could get on with ignoring the problem.

I must say you sound like and apologist for the business-as-usual approach to education in Mountain View, if not a MVWSD cheerleader. What is required in MVWSD is a major paradigm shift in policy and theory, something the current administrators are clearly incapable of. Start by hiring Hispanic, Spanish speaking administrators to serve as roll models. Oh wait, that would mean replacing all the current administrators.

BTW if you read up on Obama's pick for secretary of education, you won't like what you read given he is ready to enact an even more critical means of addressing schools and teachers that under perform and don't deliver equal access to education.

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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Observer, your comments about Parents very reasoned critique of NCLB are absurd. Racist? Based on what? For saying that a kid with only a year or two of English under their belt and no parent at home with even a high school education just might struggle with a standardized test? for saying that focusing on measurable subgroups that need the extra focus is a good thing? I see nothing in his/her posts that suggest a lack of interest in seeing all kids educated, just a very reasonable concern about benchmarks set by politicians in such a way that they'd all be out of office when the tests hit the fan.

Parent appears to be one of the few posters here that is actually an active and engaged participant in the district. Anonymous popping off is nice and all, but I'll listen to those that take action, if its all the same to you.

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Posted by Chris Chiang
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 1, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I strongly disagree with the assumptions behind criticisms of NCLB. While I agree the method in which schools are measured needs to be improved, especially regarding students with special needs and the form of testing in which they base their scores, the choice of words of September 25’s editorial promotes an insidious belief that just simply isn’t true. The Voice called extraordinary growth by students from low social economic conditions “simply unattainable,” echoing comments by a community school leader earlier this year that said it was “not possible.” This ignores the real results of national game changers like KIPP, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools. The instant I mention these names, there will be many who will be quick to assail these examples, and while they are not free of their own problems, they do remind us that our students can do so much more than what the current system assumes they can. If you care about our schools, Google them and wonder not how can we be like them, but how we can pick and learn from them. They do what the local educators say is "impossible."

-Local School Teacher

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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2009 at 1:05 am

Thanks Chris, for presenting an opinion that challenges the non-thinking status quo which has grid-locked any hoping of changing the course of public education in Mountain View.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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