Leaving Lots of Schools Behind

The New York Times reported (10/13/2008) that Prairie Elementary School in Sacramento, CA had moved each of its student groups – Hispanic, Blacks, Asian, Whites, American Indians, Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, English Learners, the disabled – toward higher proficiency in recent years.  Overall the number of students passing statewide tests had increased by more than three percentage points annually.  But California schools are required, by the terms of No Child Left Behind, to increase student proficiency in every group by 11 percentage points.

The original improvement required by NCLB was a modest amount of improvement.  But now, a “balloon” payment of 11 percent is being required in the state of California and some other states.

The New York Times reported that “in 40 states that reported on their compliance so far this year, on average, 4 in 10 schools fell short on the law’s testing targets,up from about 3 in 10 last year.  Few schools missed targets in states with easy exams, like Wisconsin and Mississippi, but states with tough tests had a harder time.  in Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Mexico, which have stringent exams, 60 to 70 percent of schools missed testing goals. And in South Carolina, which has what may be the nation’s most rigorous tests, 83 percent of schools missed targets.”

I had a woman in one of my workshops who said that she wanted to live until December 31, 2014 because she wanted to see the day when ALL students would read on grade level.  Expecting 100% perfection is unrealistic.  We do not have 100% achievement in any field – not in science, medicine, law or manufacturing.  It is not that we should not shoot for the ideal.  But the reality, especially when you deal with people, is that to achieve 100% is beyond expectations and merely causes frustration and anger.