Conservative Viewpoints

"Government is not the solution…it is the problem" -Ronald Reagan

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Doing what it takes to deal with NCLB

Posted by Stephen on March 29, 2007

Almost 300,000 reading and math tests taken by Illinois students in 2006 weren’t counted because the state relaxed a rule under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The Chicago Tribune stated that tests most likely to be discounted were low-income and minority students. Almost one in four black students and one in five low-income students didn’t have their scores counted.

According to federal guidelines, a student has to be enrolled for a full academic year before the school’s progress under the law is evaluated.

In Illinois students must be enrolled May 1 of the previous school year to have their tests counted. Before last year, the state counted the tests of students enrolled by October 1 of the school year.

The rule means that 283,000 tests were not counted. As a result, 53 schools dodged a warning list of underperforming schools. Schools that make the list can face sanctions, such as offering students the chance to transfer to other schools.

The Tribune reported that the number of unreported tests is more than five times the number that were not counted in 2005.

Matt Vanover, an Illinois State Board of Education spokesman said the change was recommended by a panel of education and community officials and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Some principals said the rule change is better because schools with students who move often aren’t penalized.

Schools are doing everything they can to avoid being forced to test students that clearly are not in a position to do well. The fact that there is zero flexibility in the testing process has placed school districts in a difficult position. Penalizing students and schools for issues that are out of their control, like the number of English as a Second Language students that move to an area, does nothing to provide a solution, but rather it exasperates the problem.

“It’s not fair to hold the child or the school responsible for that test score when the kids are moving in and out of schools,” said Brenda Thomas, a principal at Chicago’s Fairfield Academy.

Stephen Winslow is the exeutive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.


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