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.