Flexible AYP and Salient Advice from Bruce Lee
It was interesting to note in today’s NYT that New York, Illinois, and California are not seeking flexibility from the Department of Education in figuring Annual Yearly Progress. It is also significant that these states contain the largest urban districts in the country, all of them facing the most severe sanctions under NCLB. In short, why not apply for flexibility? In Illinois, I think it’s about the upcoming gubernatorial election. It appears that in today’s world being soft on education is as bad as being soft on crime.
Nevertheless, according to the Times, ten states have applied for flexibility this year and an additional ten for next year. This flexible system for figuring AYP will amount to chaos. All it really is, is a way for states to avoid NCLB sanctions. Under the proposed flexibility states would be allowed to judge schools by “tracking the progress of individual students over time.” This type of value accountability would be used to demonstrate improvement toward mastery and not mastery. That’s right; the states want to count students toward AYP that aren’t meeting standards. There are also logistical problems with this approach including instrument reliability and student mobility. And where does the buck stop on this one? Are high schools going to be forced to take the brunt of the sanctions or can the argument be made that a 17 year old is on track to meet standards by the time he is 19 or 21? Come on, this is ridiculous.
It shouldn't surprise anyont that NCLB has been an implementation nightmare. State to state assessments and cut scores vary. Some state tests are significantly more difficult than others. We all know that students who exceed a standard in one state may not meet the corresponding standard in another state. Now, with flexible reporting being granted to some states, one cannot help but wonder about equal protection under the law.
It’s good to know that Margaret Spellings still contends that the “core principles” of NCLB remain intact including 100 percent of students meeting standards in reading in math or is it approaching 100 percent? It becomes apparent that what is really important is parsing the language so that no child appears to be left behind.
Perhaps we should all heed the advice of martial arts master Bruce Lee, “When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit--it hits all by itself.” It sure looks like that’s happening right now.
As for Illinois, our governor is tough on education, we have one of the toughest tests in the nation and we won’t be having any of this “flexibility” nonsense; even if it would be the fiscally responsible thing to do for Chicago.