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Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's No Child Left Behind waivers don't just try to force teachers to teach to the test, it turns out. They also leave behind some disadvantaged students. Under the waivers, states no longer have to as carefully track results for students of color, poor students, English language learners, and students with disabilities:
Under the original No Child Left Behind, schools that failed to teach at-risk students would be flagged if one group wasn't keeping pace. If one of the subgroups failed to meet its performance targets for two consecutive years, officials were required to stage an intervention to turn the entire school around.

But the advocates' review finds those in-depth reporting requirements have fallen by the wayside under the waivers. An intervention is no longer automatically triggered in as many as 19 states, meaning those efforts that once were at the center of the law are now optional. In 16 states, student groups are lumped together and treated as one bloc of at-risk pupils, essentially scrapping the reporting of at-risk groups by label.

No Child Left Behind was a disaster, of course, but scrapping requirements to track how at-risk groups of students do relative to other groups is a recipe for weakening efforts to support students who already face huge challenges.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I appreciate all of the great work (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, LinSea, FloridaSNMOM

    that you are doing with education, both in terms of trying to preserve its integrity and in support of jobs and benefits.

    We just have to hope that educators, staffs, parents, informed patrons, professional organizations and unions can work together to fight off the worst of the dismantling.

  •  We were lucky (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM

    Our kids were eligible for a school voucher to a really good private school. It may not be too welcome on these boards but, it has been a life changer for the kids. They now have a much better chance.

  •  The subgroups are a huge problem (4+ / 0-)

    and in many cases the waivers make them worse by making the minimum subgroup size smaller, on order 20-30 kids. Reality is that you don't have statistically significant results with a group that size.

    We have in fact seen schools that were doing well overall closed or sanctioned because of subgroup scores, and objectively not because the schools were dissing those kids or not thinking about their needs.

    Making the subgroups smaller or wrecking a school that is doing well overall because a subgroup isn't thriving isn't a good answer. It's like voting against Elizabeth Warren because you think Ted Cruz is an idiot.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:21:32 AM PDT

    •  Precisely, Elfling (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      I couldn't agree with you more. I would much rather see more resources committed to that subgroup than destabilizing education for a thousand other kids. I would say the requirement should be changed to do that but it would probably be yet another unfunded mandate, especially here in Ohio where our governor, Taxin' John Kasich, has slashed public school money in order to funnel our education dollars into the pockets of his cronies and donors who run failing for-profit charter schools.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:36:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To give a sense of how small this is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      it's not unheard of for one family in a subgroup to have 4-5 kids... ie 20-25% of a 20-30 kid sample. That family moving in or out, whether they are high-achieving or low-achieving - can dramatically change your subgroup score.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:52:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  close... (0+ / 0-)
      Making the subgroups smaller or wrecking a school that is doing well overall because a subgroup isn't thriving isn't a good answer. It's like voting against Elizabeth Warren because you think Ted Cruz is an idiot.
      It's like voting for the More Effective Evil because you believe in the Lesser Of Two Evils Meme.

      The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

      by Johnathan Ivan on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:26:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry, I'm not on board here (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Mostel26, jabney

    While I think it is important to serve ALL kids, this particular requirement unduly burdened large, diverse schools that were mostly successful. If ONE subgroup — that might have amounted to a tiny fraction of the overall student body — did not perform up to standard — the ENTIRE SCHOOL would be "turned around," potentially destroying education for thousands of kids because of the performance of a few dozen? And that would probably not even help that struggling subgroup, giving the cuts in funding and the costs that would be involved in "turnaround."

    I've always thought this was one of the most offensive provisions of NCLB, perhaps because it impacts my district and another large, diverse district on the other side of town where I know a lot of people, including teachers. I don't want to see my local high school — which this year is sending kids to Harvard, Princeton, Howard, Berklee, Cleveland Institute of Music, the New England Conservatory, Oberlin, and Morehouse, among others — blown up and descend into chaos for several years because a handful of students don't perform well. Invest the money in more resources for that group instead.

    Also, remove dropouts from the school's Hall of Fame, especially ones that go on to become car thieves, arsonists, and scoundrel congressmen. Yes, I mean Darrell Issa, the shame of Heights High.

    Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

    by anastasia p on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:33:51 AM PDT

    •  Here is an example of just that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      from our Daily Kos diary archives

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      From 2002 thru 2011, the overall school scores at MVM always exceeded the AYP targets. In 2011, 51% of the eight graders at MVM took Algebra with 40% scoring proficient and 44% scoring advanced on the California Star Tests (CST). The 44% advanced was the highest percentage of advanced algebra scores in the district. That year the algebra students at MVM outscored even the schools whose students were from the wealthiest families in the district. The MVM scores were amongst the top Algebra scores posted in California that year (2011). Plus, almost 50% of English language students scored advanced or proficient. This great achievement was not acknowledged! Two sub-groups did not meet AYP so MVM continued being labeled a failing school. The scores of English language learners and students with disabilities, kept MVM from achieving AYP success. Amongst English language learners only 31.8% achieved scores of proficient or advanced in English and amongst disabled students only 31.6% scored proficient or advanced in math. Both failing categories showed a huge improvement from the 2002 levels of 0% proficient or advanced in either category, but that was not good enough.
      It is important to note that about two-thirds of the disabled student and language learners are also socio-economically deprived. AYP accountability rules mandate that a student is not just in one category but their scores normally count in multiple categories. A failure in any one category means failing AYP. At MVM, Socio-economically deprived students are about three-fourths of both the disabled and language learners’ categories. In all, MVM had to pass 25 AYP specified categories but just two categories were the root of the failing scores for 10 years. The NCLB rules of disaggregation were originally written to protect minority students from being hidden within the statistics, but ironically those rules became a major vehicle by which poor communities have their schools closed or appropriated by private entities.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:55:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is especially egregious (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        political mutt, elfling

        because one of the main criteria for designating a student as "with disabilities" is that the student can not keep up with his peers.

        This criteria makes sense. If a student has a learning disability, say, dyslexia, but has learned how to cope with it such that he learns at the same rate as his classmates, there really isn't any need for intervention. One might argue that he could learn much faster than his classmates with some extra help, but limited resources won't be spent on that extra help for a student who remains at grade level.

        NCLB's catch 22 turns this well though out and well intentioned process into a farce. Students are specifically designated Special Ed because they are three or more years below grade level, and then NCLB mandates these students keep up with their peers or the school is sanctioned.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:05:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Firsthand experience (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orinoco

          I was on the School Improvement Team of our local elementary school, which "failed to make AYP" precisely because of the Students With Disabilities category.  Other schools in our area made AYP.  They weren't required to report this category because they didn't have enough students in the category to trigger reporting.

          Our teachers did many things to try to streamline and improve teaching.  I was really impressed with their efforts, understanding, professionalism, and dedication.  But it was pretty obvious that, relative to the problem they were trying to address, these efforts were a Band-Aid.

          Ultimately the school changed the way it identified and responded to students who were struggling academically, the intent being to reduce the number labeled as Students With Disabilities.  This directly affected my son, denying him access to an IEP or 504.  His early love for school turned into deep dislike.

          In my opinion a waiver would be a better solution.

          •  Show up at the school (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            political mutt

            with an advocate or a lawyer. There is a reason we have IEPs for some students. Your school is playing numbers games to look good within NCLBs constraints. It isn't going to benefit your son, or any of the other students.

            There is a clear conflict between NCLB and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). School administrators try to paper over the conflict with edubabble and hand waving. Don't let them.

            In your school's case, a waiver may be a good idea. If you think so, fight for it.

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 02:23:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks, it's better now. (0+ / 0-)

              His last year at that school wasn't so good, but now he is in middle school and it's a different world.  They did extensive testing, found he didn't meet the criteria for special services under AU, but nonetheless they have established IEPs for him in all of his classes.  He finished up last year with As and Bs (maybe I shouldn't be content with that, as he is brilliant, but it's a huge improvement for him), is more engaged, and is open to maybe getting to like school.

              The director of Special Ed services met with all of his teachers before this year started, and he's off to a running start--with much improved self-esteem.

  •  Arne Duncan: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco

    Obama's selection for Sec. of Education.

    Waking Up Yet?

    Care To Snooze A Little More?

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:24:36 PM PDT

  •  This is an unsustainable argument. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, Mostel26, Orinoco

    If NCLB is foolish, which it is, it can't be bad to grant waivers from its foolishness.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:27:33 PM PDT

    •  The act was seriously flawed from the beginning (4+ / 0-)

      It tried to blame education for the failures of national and state economic and social policies.
      It should be scrapped.
      We should think about what our educational problems and challenges really are--not just that we don't score as well as other countries (no one ever points out that other countries' results may be skewed because of their own educational policies)--and start over.

    •  Unfortunately, Rich (0+ / 0-)

      it is not all that cut and dried. Do you know how to find the Special Ed classrooms in many LA City Schools? Look for the bungalows the farthest from the flagpole.

      Some waivers undoubtedly mitigate NCLB foolishness, some will increase it. You have to look at the specific cases.

      We should outsource our educational policy to the French or the Finns. Someone who has a working system, anyway. We surely don't.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:12:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  About your second paragraph (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orinoco

        I don't know if that's true.  I think all waivers mitigate the foolishness.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:20:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd like to think so too. (0+ / 0-)

          But there are people running districts and schools within districts that wish special needs kids would just GO AWAY. Sad but true.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 02:27:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  sadly not true Rich (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      political mutt

      It depends on how individual schools and states will deal with the waiver requirements...one of which is that a certain percentage of teacher evaluation will be based on "student achievement data". How is that defined? For most districts the only data available will be standardized test scores. Do we really want to go further down that path?

      Furthermore, many states (California included) are implementing an entirely new curriculum this year aka Common Core. Common Core IS going to be better for kids and has much more emphasis on critical thinking skills. In regards to standardized test scores though - scores are going to drop dramatically for the first few years (makes sense if you think about it really).

      I am a staunch D - I work local, state and national campaigns EVERY election cycle (it is literally part of my job) but when it comes to education - Obama isn't our ally. The fact that he appointed Arne Duncan over Linda Darling Hammond as Sec of Ed was a DEAD give away. Duncan is a poster child for the corporate model being applied to education.

      "There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things in life." Preamble to IWW Constitution

      by ca union goon on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:48:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Arne is a disaster (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ohkwai

    just like Holder

  •  I used to live in a school district (TX) that (0+ / 0-)

    would officially tell certain students/classes that they were to be absent (excused) to NOT be able to take the assessment tests.  These were the educationally challenged students as well as the Aspie kids.   Or if they excelled in a subject (like Math/Science) then they would have them come in only for that test and send them home the rest of the time.

    "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

    by doingbusinessas on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:13:11 PM PDT

  •  So basically (0+ / 0-)

    the Bush version was better than the Obama version? Wow. Hope and change.

    •  No, both are equally bad (0+ / 0-)

      Bush started a process that seemingly can't be stopped although it has NOT gotten worse. The so-called "reformers" need to be cut out of the entire educational process but I don't know how. Their grip is strong. I mean, Michelle Rhee should be a complete pariah in the education world.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:35:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually a few states (0+ / 0-)

        started the process. Then came NCLB - but at least it allowed states to set their own goals and assessments. And its main goal- making sure the "left behind kids (special ed, minorities, low SES) were included in the measure - was well intentioned. Now we have Bill Gates and friends setting a national curriculum that has zero research behind it. What could possibly go wrong?

  •  This is Ridiculous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    political mutt

    I am a special education teacher. Many of my students have fairly profound levels of learning disabilities. I believe wholeheartedly in their potential to succeed in school and life. If you think the fact that they won't improve to the, "Passing," level on some bs state test means they, or I, have failed, and that our school should be punished-well, come spend one day in my classroom.

    Do you think these children aren't already monitored and tracked and measured eight ways from Sunday? Have you ever looked at the sheer volume of paper in an IEP?

    My own children, btw, are in a very fine public school. One is in the, "Gifted," program, and one has special needs. One year, their school was labeled as, "Failing," because the school had not met adequate yearly progress for two years in a row with one of the subgroups-precisely what you're talking about here. The irony is that the school had posted double digit gains in all areas, and the principal had been nationally recognized.
    The families of exactly 7 children applied for waivers to go elsewhere. The rest of us knew we were lucky enough to have our children at an excellent school with amazing teachers, regardless of what No Child Left A Dime had to say.

    Every part of this legislation is a train wreck, and I see no need to defend any of it.

  •  I've been there (0+ / 0-)

    The problem is the whole system, including the the intricate and oftentimes abusive teacher culture (cult of the educator). My teaching career lasted all of seven weeks before I was pulverized into the ground... not by budget cuts, not by the kids, not by the parents, not by the administrators... but by my fellow teachers. The deck is stacked against new teachers. They get the hardest caseloads, the most difficult students, demanding co-teachers who could care less if you're fresh out of school, and s--- duty. No wonder fifty percent are gone after their third year. Unless something is done to help retain our new teachers nothing is going to get better.

    "Know that it is easier to get into something than it is to get out of it." - Donald Rumsfeld

    by teej on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:53:25 AM PDT

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