Superintendent says NCLBA creates ‘unrealistic expectations’
Moffat County School District Officials have been saying for years what a national report just discovered — the aims of No Child Left Behind Act, though noble, just aren’t realistic.
The National Conference of State Legislatures called the act a “one-size-fits-all” method of education and recommended 43 changes.
They’re not alone.
“It’s intrusive, massive, complex and full of unrealistic expectations,” Superintendent of Schools Pete Bergmann said. “They don’t have realistic expectations. It’s only a matter of time before something has to change because you’re setting yourself and schools up for failure.”
The federal No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001 with the goal of dramatically narrowing the differences in achievement among American students. It was the beginning of wide spread standards-based education that demanded that students show significant gains in achievement each year. So significant, in fact, that if a special needs student (for example) reaches 100 percent proficiency in an area, they still have to demonstrate a gain the next year.
“States believe 100 percent proficiency is not statistically achievable,” the report reads.
NCLBA mandates that schools be evaluated by comparing successive groups of students against a static, arbitrary standard, not by tracking the progress of the same group of standards over time.
Under the provisions of the NCLBA, Craig Intermediate School is undergoing the cost of creating a school improvement plan because one of 73 subgroups did not show adequate progress even though school wide significant gains were made in both math and reading scores.
“One of my gripes is the huge impact this has on data processing,” Bergmann said. “There’s a huge amount of time spent creating improvement plans for example.”
And, most of what NCLBA requires has to be done on the school’s dime.
One of the recommendations the National Conference of State Legislatures makes in its report is that the federal government fully fund the mandates of the Act. Right now, the federal government funds less than 8 percent of the nations’ education program.
The report also recommends that measures of student performance not be one-size-fits all.
Whether legislators take the report’s recommendations to heart is yet to be seen, but some school districts aren’t willing to wait.
The Colorado senate is considering SB 50, which allows school districts to become exempt from the NCLBA requirements. Of course, that would make them exempt from federal education funding. In Moffat County, that decision could cost the district nearly $500,000.
“It’s criminal that school districts have to take money designed to help the most needy students and give it back,” Bergmann said.
Yet, it’s already happening.
“An increasing number of school districts are saying ‘take your money and go home.’ That’s huge,” Bergmann said.
SB 50 would allow school districts to ask local voters to make up what funding the decision costs them.
“In terms of the NCLBA, the concept is right on, but the methodology is flawed,” Bergmann said.
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