Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Mess In Mass

Some 37% of public schools in Massachusetts are not making the grade according the the Boston Globe. The worse news is that figure has nearly doubled in the past year:
Overall, 617, or 37 percent of the state's public schools, including charters, have failed to meet federal standards for at least two years, up from 420 last year.

The state Department of Education gave 57 schools the most severe designation, up from 30 last year. The schools failed to meet goals for state test scores for five years or more. Under the federal law, Massachusetts could decide to remove the principal and staff and directly oversee the schools.

The rising number of the worst-performing schools presents a challenge for the Bay State, where officials have been debating for years how to handle failing schools. To date, state education officials have partnered with districts to improve schools rather than take them over, while some politicians and business leaders have been pushing for more severe measures.

Under the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind Act, every student in each state must reach proficiency in English and math by the year 2014, showing solid command of grade-level material. Each state can use its own testing system to decide what proficiency is. In Massachusetts, schools are judged on overall student performance on the MCAS and other measures and the results of students from eight subgroups, including race and ethnicity. The focus is on evaluating how much schools are improving as they aim to get 100 percent of their students to reach proficiency.
There's much more to read in the whole thing.

Whether or not every student in "each state" will reach grade-level proficiency in English and math depends on what the meaning of "proficiency" is.

Since each state gets to determine its own benchmarks for measuring "proficiency," my guess is that as 2014 approaches, we're about to see some "serious" watering-down of those standards.
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