Failure looms for schools under No Child Left Behind Act 

Three-quarters of schools nationwide will fail next year under the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal officials, though, hope to change the law before that happens.

Nationally, the Department of Education estimates the number of schools failing will jump from nearly 40 percent this year to 82 percent next year. For 2009-10, only 48 percent of city schools met the federal standards.

Before the House education committee last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the law is broken and it needs to be fixed.

“It has created dozens of ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed,” Duncan said. “We must focus on the schools and the students most at risk.”

On Monday, President Barack Obama asked Congress to rewrite the law before September while speaking at a middle school in Arlington, Va.

San Francisco Superintendent Carlos Garcia said the fact that many schools will not be proficient is just one flaw in the law.

“Some minor changes would be beneficial,” Garcia said. “If you have one group that’s not achieving, the entire school is deemed as needing improvement, and that’s not fair.”

Garcia said he would like the see the law change to reward progress rather than label schools and districts as failures.

No Child Left Behind created the federal Adequate Yearly Progress system, which focuses solely on whether students are scoring at the proficient level or not when tested in math and English.

The law was passed in 2001 with the goal of making every student in the country “proficient” by 2014. Each year, the bar to pass the test has risen.

Each state was charged with developing its own test to meet federal benchmarks.

In California, schools were rated out of a possible 1,000 points — known as the Academic Performance Index — but also must show incremental increases.

To reach the “adequate yearly progress” benchmark, schools had to increase the share of students scoring at or above the proficient level on state tests by 11 percentage points over last year.

Schools that fail to reach set benchmarks are categorized in a number of different improvement needs and could result in federal takeover and restructuring of teachers and administration.

For the 2011-12 school year, schools in California will need to score a minimum of 740 points.


Test scores carry heavy weight

Schools nationwide must meet a minimum score in order to be deemed proficient. The federal No Child Left Behind law aims to make all students proficient by 2014.

2001-02: 560
2002-03: 560
2003-04: 560
2004-05: 590
2005-06: 590
2006-07: 590
2007-08: 620
2008-09: 650
2009-10: 680
2010-11: 710
2011-12: 740
2012-13: 770
2013-14: 800

Source: California Department of Education

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