Minnesota: 933 Failing Schools
I have never been a No Child Left Behind hater--at least not to the extent that many others are. I'm not opposed to testing kids in our schools and allowing people to make comparisons based on the results. I think that can be motivating. Those comparisons have to be reasonable, however, and at this point that is definitely not the case with No Child Left Behind. That has to make one wonder about the motives of those who set the program up, and especially about anyone who isn't willing to change it.
Minnesota has one of the best academic records of any state in the nation, and Edina High School, just to the west of Minneapolis, was recently listed in Newsweek as one of the top 100 schools in the nation. But the Minneapolis Star/Tribune recently ran an article telling how Minnesota schools and Edina fared under the ridiculous standards set up by No Child Left Behind:
As predicted, dozens more Minnesota schools -- including nationally respected Edina High School -- failed to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) this year under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The state Department of Education reports that 933 schools are now on the watch list based on statewide test scores. So why does that list keep growing in a state with one of the best academic achievement records in America?
Although I think the article unfairly blasts schools with "lower-performing kids," it also draws the obvious conclusion that there is something wrong with No Child Left Behind.
A signature Bush program, NCLB calls for all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. It also requires states to identify schools that miss the test benchmark. That bar is a moving target that keeps rising. Although state test scores improved slightly in 2008, the gains were not enough keep additional schools off the list.
The numbers are no surprise. A 2004 state legislative auditor's report projected that under current criteria nearly all Minnesota schools would fail to meet federal expectations in the next few years...
In 2005, 247 Minnesota schools landed on the list. Last year, the number rose to 729, and this year nearly half of the state's 1,900 schools fell short.
There are many who believe that No Child Left Behind is a conspiracy to bring about a full-scale voucher program for the nation or to completely privatize education in America. I have always been skeptical of conpiracy theories, but when the deck is so obviously stacked against public schools as they are with NCLB, you've got to be pretty thick-headed not to become a believer in this one.