The Rebels in the Hills Throw the Capital into Disarray

August 17, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Libya? Well yes at the moment but also NCLB as the Department has decided to allow states to retroactively “reset” their proficiency goals.

Over at Eduwonk, Andy grouses that if you have your attorneys study the fine print, it is actually 92 percent proficiency, and not 2014. He may be right, but the state departments of education either don’t agree or don’t realize it. The AMO charts I have seen all end with 100 percent proficiency in 2014.

McNeil and Klein write:

By letting a state retroactively revise its proficiency targets so that schools do better under the law, the department is setting a precedent that it’s willing to use any loophole or technicality to, depending on your perspective, help states out or avoid making tough decisions against states. This, too, despite vows in June that the Education Department would “enforce” the law.

After a similar faceoff with Idaho chief Tom Luna, the department also let that state keep its proficiency targets level, too, because Idaho hadn’t taken advantage of the three-years-in-a-row allowance.

Department officials say they want to give states breathing room until the details of the package come out next month. But one question I have is: If states can just go back and redo their proficiency targets so schools keep making AYP, why apply for a waiver, especially if you have to adopt reforms prescribed by the Obama administration?

Why indeed? State officials seem likely to draw the conclusion that the Department is profoundly reluctant to employ their only real weapon (withdraw of federal funds) in pursuit of a goal which Secretary Duncan has (correctly) described as utopian. A great loophole hunt may be silly, but it beats having states simply drop their cut scores or openly defy federal law while still taking federal money.

Let’s see what happens next…

Obama Seeks Big NCLB Changes

February 1, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So says Sam Dillon in today’s New York Times. Apparently the administration says it is going to get rid of the things that drive  school boards and teacher unions crazy, but maintain a strong system of accountability. So, we’ll see about that, but color me skeptical. The 2007 sop involved throwing ELL kids under the “porfolio assessment” bus.

On the positive side, the administration is going to propose getting rid of the 2014 100% proficiency standard that will otherwise push states to dummy down their state standards.

Real Men of Accountability Illusion Genius

February 19, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Fordham strikes again, following up their great Proficiency Illusion study with the Accountability Illusion. This time, they took 18 elementary and 18 middle schools, and applied the varying accountability rules of 28 different states under NCLB to see which of them would make AYP under which set of rules.

In other words, which states have jimmied the gory details to make it really easy to make AYP? Things like how many students you require to make a subgroup and adopted error margins make a big, big difference.

I can’t tell you how shocking it was to see Arizona as the second easiest state studied in which to make AYP.

That is to say, I was shocked that someone had actually made it easier to do than Arizona. This should be a statewide scandal in Wisconsin.

<Cue cheesy singer and Charleton Heston-like voice about here>

Real men of GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s to you, Mr. Wisconsin No Child Left Behind compliance guy.

Mr. Wisconsin No Child Left Behind compliance guy!

When those federal bureaucrats required us to test students in return for federal dollars, you figured out how to how to drop your academic standards lower than anyone. Beating out Arizona…that’s really impressive. They said it couldn’t be done, but you did it!

Watch out! Falling cut scores!

When you’ve got schools making AYP in Wisconsin that don’t make it anywhere else, you deserve the satisfaction of a hard day’s work! We want everyone to feel good about their schools after all, whether the students learn anything or not.

Don’t feel bad-trophies for everyone!!

That partial credit scheme for kids that fail was inspired! Why let the sunbelt states have all the fun with low academic standards? Don’t worry about those darned meddling Fordham kids and their fancy study! You can still get away with it!

Oh YEAH! Where’s my Scooby snack?!?

So here’s to you Mr. Wisconsin NCLB compliance guy!  When it comes to creative insubordination, no one can match your GUSTO! Keep taking those federal dollars and giving them hell!

Mr. Wisconsin I’m Too Scared of Adults to Care About Kids NCLB Compliance guuuuuuy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dubya’s Failure vs. Jeb’s Success

January 8, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Heritage Foundation released a study by Dan Lips and yours truly today making the case that real education reform needs to come up from the states, rather than down from the federal government.  We focus on the success of Florida’s reforms, the disappointment of NCLB, and note that in fact NCLB threatens Florida’s continued success. Now the Bushies are exiting the Washington scene, can we at long last admit that the 2014 requirement is encouraging states to lower their standards?

Dan explains this better than I can, so I’ll just sit back an marvel at the cool graphics that the Heritage folks came up with, like the one above.