No Child law requires testing, can penalize schools

No Child Left Behind (NCLB), signed into law by President George W. Bush in January 2002, takes a standards-based approach to education, operating under the theory that high standards and measurable goals are the keys to unlocking an individual child’s potential as a student. To measure improvement, the law ties federal education funding directly to student performance on standardized tests.
Taking a stand
Click here to read about an Addison County family who traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to protest No Child Left Behind at the Save Our Schools rally.
NCLB mandates that states set Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets for its public schools, and that these progress targets be measured by a statewide standardized test. In Vermont, students’ performance on the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, test is the measurement used to determine whether AYP has been achieved.
Repeated failure to meet AYP goals leads to sanctions against a school and its faculty. Schools are designated as “in need of improvement” after one year of AYP failure, and failure for three years results in “corrective action” in which the school is required to take dramatic action such as replacing teachers or developing a new curriculum.
In its fifth year of failure, a school must develop a plan to restructure the entire school, and if it fails for a sixth year, the plan goes into effect. This often means turning the school into a charter school, bringing in a private company to run the school or simply closing the school altogether.
“Failure,” however, is a relative term. Even schools that show consistent yearly improvement are in danger of crossing this threshold because AYP builds on the goals of the previous year — and every school is required to reach 100 percent student proficiency by 2014. So, a school that improves every year, but not at the rate mandated by their AYP goals, may still be required to take these corrective actions.

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