Would you like to see what’s so wacky about the No Child Left Behind Act? Then look at the next two graphs and tables, which show the required targets over time for every single subgroup in every single public school in the US, or else they face dire penalties such as having all the teachers, staff, and administrators fired and to be taken over by some private group which will also fail. Notice that four years from now, every single student in every single tested grade in every single subgroup, elementary and secondary, in every school, must be “proficient”. Or else. No exceptions!
That sort of thing has never, ever occurred in any public school system, anywhere, ever. Think about it. Is every single person on your block good with fractions and logarithms? Could every person on your block run a mile in under 6 minutes? Could they all carry on a conversation both in French and in fluent Mandarin Chinese? Heck, no, not unless you live on a very unusual block consisting only of un-injured Franco-Chinese athletes who are also math majors.
One-hundred percent math and reading ‘proficiency’ is only possible in a few public magnet schools like Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, where they are free to pick only the cream of the Virginia high school crop and reject everybody else. I understand NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, and a few other large cities also have such magnet schools. The rest of our public schools serve everybody – the quick and the slow (in running, reading, writing, foreign languages, musical instruments, math, and everything else.) It just ain’t going to happen that you will get 100% ‘proficiency’ unless you define ‘proficiency’ downwards to the point that it’s meaningless.
The world ending in 2012 is a joke, one made for selling movies or ‘end-of-the-world’ schemes to the gullible. But one day in 2014 will be the day when 99.99% of ALL public schools in the United States will be labeled as ‘failing’, fulfilling one of the dreams of the late and un-lamented Jerry Falwell*. So, perhaps that will be the date for the end of the US public school system? What they were smoking when they wrote this law, I have no idea. But it’s utterly foolish, unless their plan was precisely to destroy public education in the US. (As I said, that was Jerry Falwell’s goal.)
Here are the graphs and tables. And no, I’m not making this up.