NCLB Act and Proficiency Testing

by NYC Firm Schools on November 11, 2009

Many NYC Private School families report that the substandard level of their locally assigned school’s educational programs are the top reason they chose to pull out and instead send their children to a private school. The No Child Left Behind act has changed much of the way public schools think about standardized testing. If their students do not pass the tests, then the school is sanctioned and cannot meet funding needs.

The AC360 newsroom, from CNN.com, recently published a commentary on the NCLB policy and how it is changing public school student proficiency levels.

Schools across the country are lowering standards – actually dumbing down lesson plans – to avoid sanctions under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
That act was President George W. Bush’s signature education reform. It mandates that every child in school must be “proficient” in reading and math by 2014 and schools that fall short are subject to sanctions.
Now a new federal study shows that nearly a third of the states lowered academic standards in recent years. Fifteen states in all lowered proficiency standards in fourth and eighth-grade reading or math from 2005 to 2007. Three states – Maine, Oklahoma, and Wyoming – lowered standards in both subjects at both grade levels.

For example, in Mississippi, the state with the least rigorous standards, a score of 163 is considered “proficient” but in Massachusetts, at the top, the bar for proficiency is set at 232. That’s a difference of 69 points. Should your child’s education be determined by zip code?

It is understandable how this domino affect is changing proficiency testing in schools across the nation at the same time that unprecedented budget cuts are taking away supplies, facilities and teachers.

So instead of taking that risk, some schools simply made it easier for the kids to look proficient without really being proficient. Then they get to keep their funding and everybody’s happy, right?
Not exactly says the Obama Administration. It’s been trying to persuade states to adopt a uniform set of tougher standards for education but because education policy is largely controlled at the state level, the federal government can’t impose a set of standards.

Firm Schools, because they do not receive government funding, are exempt from having to subject their students to standardized testing and so can concentrate on a whole student education to prepare them for college and university admission.

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