Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Rather Sweet Melody Was Heard

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports,
In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Schopp said Wednesday that the state intends to use 2010 benchmarks in calculating whether public school students and schools made "adequate yearly progress" in this spring.

It means, for example, that only 63 percent of high school juniors at a school will have to have scored proficient in math last spring, instead of 72 percent. Just 69 percent of students in grades 3-8 must have scored proficient in reading, not 76 percent.
Schopp's logic is impeccable.  The article claims she wants to send "a message that she's tired of waiting for Congress to update No Child Left Behind."  Further,
"Without making these changes, we believe our accountability system, as it currently stands, would inappropriately label schools as failing. This situation would eventually trigger a number of NCLB-related sanctions that our department simply does not have the capacity to address," Schopp wrote to Duncan.
Of course, Schopp's move is not without risk.
By going ahead with the plan, Schopp acknowledged the state "could potentially be out of compliance" with No Child Left Behind, meaning the government could withhold funding.
Losing funding frightens me, but this may be worth the risk, especially if other states go along.  The Argus Leader goes on,
Like South Dakota, Idaho is not waiting to see what that plan will be. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna last week was the first education chief to announce his state's plans to defy No Child Left Behind.
I'm going to quibble with the august publication a bit.  Montana informed Duncan in May that that state would not be raising its requirements.  If I'm not a good enough source for the Argus Leader, NPR agrees.
Our story implied that Idaho was the first state to refuse to comply with No Child Left Behind. Actually, Montana sent a letter to the Education Department in April, announcing that state would not be raising its NCLB requirements. That letter preceded Idaho's announcement.
The larger point is that Duncan is not going to punish 15 or 20 states.  If others join South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho, the funding levels will remain the same.  One would hope that fewer strings will be attached.

1 comment:

caheidelberger said...

Nertz to that risk! Let's rumble!