Questions about Support for NCLB
Note: Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as No Child Left Behind. The new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.
As a parent of children with disabilities who has been an advocate for many other families in a professional capacity for over 20 years, I have seen IEPs for some of these children with goals such as "to maintain respiration," or "to be able to grasp a toy."
With the 100% standard for accomplishment by 2014, including financial disincentives for noncompliance, what motivation will school districts have to keep serving these children, when the children's inability to reach these goals can cost the school district their funding? I fear that the subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle pressure put on some families to take their children out of schools will only increase in this atmosphere.
As well, it also is pretty clear that NCLB was politically motivated by those with an agenda to further undermine the public school system. Unless you live in Lake Woebegone, no school district has children who are all "above average" When your schools can't achieve these impossibly high standards, the politicians will have all the ammunition they need to direct public funding away from the schools.
I have been a longtime user of your usually excellent advocacy advice, but I fail to see how uncritical acceptance of NCLB really furthers the cause of helping children with disabilities succeed in fulfilling their potential, or how it fits with other positions you have taken, such as on high Stakes Testing, since NCLB seems to be the ultimate High Stakes Test.
The "all" in NCLB means 95%. By 2014, 95% of children must be at the proficient level on state testing. Proficient does not mean above average. It just means that the child has mastered what his state has determined is grade level material. By federal definition, anything below proficient means the child has not mastered grade level work. (20 U. S. C. § 6311)
will be a decade before we need to worry about whether the 95% factor
is appropriate. Right now it would be a miracle for some schools to
teach 40% of the kids.
Only 36 percent are proficient in reading
for your concerns about schools abandoning the children with the most
If IDEA is weakened in the next reauthorization though, your concerns for these children is well founded. Without IDEA to protect individual children there is absolutely nothing in any other education law to prevent schools from abandoning children who require expensive teaching and who will not reach grade level.
IDEA has been around long enough that many of us think of these protections as permanent. They are not. If we do not let our Congress people know how we feel about IDEA, we may not have these protections much longer.
More articles by Sue:
Stakes! Can the School Use a Single Test to Retain My Child? Meet Sue Whitney
Meet Sue Whitney