Tin Shop Tartan - Randolph County Alabama's Own Snarky and Surly Scot Gets All Native

Blogging from the suburbs of the Tin Shop community, Captain Plaid brings Progressivism, and a share of Quixotic angst, to the ridges and hollows of Randolph County, Alabama. Hardly a booster yet rooted here enough to fight, Plaidsters can perhaps find like cause in trying to build local solutions to global concerns. Education, environment, economy, entertainment, engagement ... Trust the Tartan!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Handley High and Wadley High Don't Make AYP

Of the 170 schools that the Alabama Department of Education said failed to made "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind Law, only Handley High and Wadley High made the list of schools here in Randolph County. Should we be concerned? Does this mean our other schools are doing a grand job? Perhaps so and perhaps not.

I assure you that NCLB is a bureaucratic train wreck. NCLB is a nearly a total disaster, as is much of the increasing conservatism in education that began at least two decades ago. The only good from the legislation might be how we (I'll continue to claim "professional educator" status) have been forced to really take a hard look at the data. Breaking all these figures down and seeing what appears to be working, or alternatively isn't working, serves a limited but useful purpose. "Accountability" via standardized tests is about taking useful tools and making these "snapshots" essentially the whole measure of an effective school. An initial flaw is that special education and other students which might not test well are lumped in in figuring AYP. Attendance, something that obviously is out of control of the educators, can doom a school.

There are simply many other facets of learning and measurement that even the finest educators have little control over. Some decent research suggests that perhaps 10% of the factors influencing learning are what the system provides as far as resources and just 7% allocated to the work of the teacher. 87% is determined by home and societal and cultural factors! Even if you break into thirds, as I used to do with "my team", that one third of "outside school factors" can be a tough thing to overcome. Endemic poverty I'd argue is the number one factor when we boil it all down.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is that NCLB is a flawed concept that requires substantial modifications, adequate funding that Bu$hCo has pulled back despite their initial promises in getting this package passed, and perhaps even outright repeal. Peace ... or War!