New Study Offers Reality Check: No Child Left Behind is Increasing Dropout Rates
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February 15, 2008

New Study Offers Reality Check: No Child Left Behind is Increasing Dropout Rates

No_child_left_behind According to researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas-Austin, Bush might want to more correctly rename “No Child Left Behind” to “Lets Leave a Lot More Children Behind”. Their recent study found that Texas' public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), directly contributes to lower graduation rates, especially for minorities. Teachers and administrators are essentially rewarded when minority students drop out, so retention efforts are now virtually non-existent. Why retain students that make it impossible to comply with NCLB, is the unspoken question with a no clear answer.

By analyzing data from more than 271,000 students, the study found that 60 percent of African-American students, 75 percent of Latino students and 80 percent of ESL students did not graduate within five years. The researchers found an overall graduation rate of only 33 percent. The researchers also found that NCLB is directly contributing to these unusually high dropout rates.

The recent study shows a strong relationship between the increasing number of dropouts and school's rising accountability ratings, finding that:

·    Losses of low-achieving students help raise school ratings under the accountability system.

·    The accountability system allows principals to hold back students who are deemed at risk of reducing the school's scores; many students unfairly retained this way end up dropping out in frustration.

·    The test scores grouped by race single out the low-achieving students in these subgroups as potential liabilities to the school ratings, increasing incentives for school administrators to allow those students to quickly and quietly exit the system.

The accountability system's zero tolerance rules for attendance and behavior, which put youth into the court system for minor offenses and absences, alienate students and increase the likelihood they will drop out.

"High-stakes, test-based accountability doesn't lead to school improvement or equitable educational possibilities," said Linda McSpadden McNeil, director of the Center for Education at Rice University. "It leads to avoidable losses of students. Inherently the system creates a dilemma for principals: comply or educate. Unfortunately we found that compliance means losing students."

The study revealed schools came under the accountability system, which uses student test scores to rate schools and reward or discipline principals, massive numbers of students left the school system. The exit of low-achieving students created the appearance of rising test scores and of a narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority students, thus increasing the schools' ratings.

This study has serious implications for the nation's schools under the NCLB law. It finds that the higher the stakes and the longer such an accountability system governs schools, the more school personnel view students not as children to educate but as potential liabilities or assets for their school's performance indicators, their own careers or their school's funding.

An elementary school teacher, who did not want to be named, told The Daily Galaxy, “No Child Left Behind has made it much more difficult to focus on truly educating children. The act has so many illogical and biased requirements that everyone is now mainly concerned with how to manipulate loopholes to avoid losing funding. Unfortunately, this act is hurting the very kids it was supposedly going to help, and is damaging America’s educational system in the process. I got into teaching to help children learn, but now teaching has become so political that it’s no longer about the children.”

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

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Source: http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v16n3/

Comments

Maybe the No Child Left Behind Act isn't perfect, but I don't think these problems should be used as an excuse to abandon test-based accountability entirely. Barring problems such as test anxiety and the like, if the kids can't pass the tests it means they aren't learning the material. It's ridiculous to say there's a dilemma between educating kids and getting them to pass tests; assuming the tests are well-designed, the two are one and the same. It sounds like what needs to be done to improve the system is to start lowering a school's "score" based on the number of dropouts. However, one would have to be careful not to penalize the school for every dropout. Some kids are just unmotivated and will decide the whole school thing isn't worth their time no matter how much teachers try to help them. Some kind of system which compares a school's percentage of dropouts to that of other schools nearby, and penalizes it for dropping below the average, might work, especially if special circumstances pertaining to that school could be controlled for.
"The accountability system allows principals to hold back students who are deemed at risk of reducing the school's scores; many students unfairly retained this way end up dropping out in frustration."
If the kids aren't doing well, is it really "unfair" to make them repeat a grade? This helps ensure that they really understand the material and will actually deserve their diploma when they graduate. A diploma tells the world, "This person knows certain things," and no one who doesn't know those certain things should get a diploma. That's not cruel, it's fair and honest.

Anyone expecting a free diploma, from just a HIGH school of all things, isn't fit yet to work in American society. If you compare our work ethic to that of the rest of the world, it's almost crazy.
I have a relative who talked to someone who came from Russia, and when asked what he would take back to Russia if he could from the U.S. he said the grocery stores and the American work ethic.

The reason minorities are often hammered for being lazy is that often the culture they come from is not used to working the way we do. Now, of course there's always going to be lazy immigrants who take advantage of the system, but a lot of the time that isn't the problem.

I'd be careful when analyzing the results of the No Child left behind program.

It is painfully obvious that the two responses were written by people who are not teachers. Standardized tests DO NOT produce accurate results of a child's knowledge, especially students who are grouped into these lower achieving sections. No Child Left Behind IS leaving students behind. It has positive goals, with unrealistic expectations and inappropiate funding.

apart from differences in textbooks and teaching styles, standardized tests DO give a relatively accurate portrayal of the taker's knowledge.
I'm a student, and I've taken my share of tests. The point of the tests is to not get a exact percentage, that would be unrealistic. The test questions are easy and only test the presence of knowledge on a subject.
If you don't know the answer, well, the only explanation is that you haven't learned what you are required.

No Child Left Behind penalizes and takes away funding from schools who have ESL students that are naturally going to struggle with tests in a foreign language. Unfortunately, schools with high ESL student counts tend to be in run down areas and need the extra funding the most. No Child Left Behind was poorly thought out and is poorly executed. Anyone who says otherwise isn't aware of all of the problems it has created. That doesn't mean we should have zero accountability, but just that we need a vastly better system for it.

Educators have morphed into a self absorbed Teachers Union of Mobsters that care less about "The Children" and more about extorting the Government into stealing more Taxpayers money that they can waste....

NEA is an illegal orginization that has all but destroyed America.

When my four year old went to school the kindergarten class was next door. The kids sat in a chair and started reciting punctuation. My own nervousness began. The result of it was pulling him out and homeschooling.


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