On eve of data release, Downey Unified board member rips No Child Left Behind

UPDATE, 8/31/11: Scores released

DOWNEY – Just days before the state releases data used to grade schools, Downey Unified School Board member Don LaPlante lambasted the federal No Child Left Behind program, calling it “a disaster.”

The state on Wednesday is scheduled to release the Accountability Progress Report.

In the alphabet soup of education releases, the APR has the two most important numbers parents can use to understand how schools are performing.

The report includes the Academic Performance Index, which is a composite score used to grade schools. It also reports the Adequate Yearly Progress, which tells parents whether schools are making strides toward academic goals.

Per federal guidelines, schools or districts that don’t hit targets are put in “program improvement” status.

If the scores don’t improve the state could take control of a school or district.

LaPlante criticized the George W. Bush-era education policy which has been modified and continued by President Barack Obama.

He said it sets up schools for failure.

Academic targets rise every year, and every small group — such as English-language learners — must reach the goal.

“It doesn’t work. It’s a disaster” he said. “In three years, we’re going to end up with 90 percent of schools being labeled as failing.”

LaPlante, a former teacher, brought the issue up Monday at a forum with Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood.

Sanchez agreed with LaPlante, saying that many members of Congress want wholesale changes to the policy.

Often, schools post overall good scores but are labeled as failing because a small subgroup performed poorly on state exams.

“To label those schools as failing is not an accurate description of the school,” Sanchez said. “It’s something that gives me a lot of heartburn. Its something we really, really need to addresss.”

Despite the opposition, the policy has enjoyed the support of school reformers, who say it puts a scare into low-performing districts

Downey typically posts good scores on the API, especially at the middle school and high school levels, where students post above-average scores compared to schools with similar demographics.

The scores are expected to be released Wednesday morning.

For last year’s API scores, click here.

 

 

 

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