The number of Wisconsin schools that didn’t meet standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act and could face sanctions increased from 95 to 156 this year, including the entire Madison Metropolitan School District.
Of the 156 schools on the list released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Instruction, 82 were in the Milwaukee Public School district. Seven of the schools on the list were charter schools.
Besides individual schools on the list, four entire districts made the list for not meeting the standards. That lists includes the school districts of Beloit, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine.
Bill Novak (Interestingly, this Capital Times article originally had many comments, which are now gone):
Superintendent Art Rainwater told The Capital Times the list is “ludicrous,” the district doesn’t pay attention to it, and the district will do what’s best for the students and not gear curriculum to meet the criteria set by the federal government.
“As we’ve said from the day this law was passed, it is only a matter of time before every school in America is on the list,” Rainwater said. “It’s a law that impossible to meet, because eventually if every single student in a school isn’t successful, you are on the list.”
No Child Left Behind allows states to set their own standards. The Fordham Institute has given Wisconsin’s academic standards a “D” in recent years. Neal McCluskey has more on states setting their own standards:
NCLB’s biggest problem is that it’s designed to help Washington politicians appear all things to all people. To look tough on bad schools, it requires states to establish standards and tests in reading, math and science, and it requires all schools to make annual progress toward 100% reading and math proficiency by 2014. To preserve local control, however, it allows states to set their own standards, “adequate yearly progress” goals, and definitions of proficiency. As a result, states have set low standards, enabling politicians to declare victory amid rising test scores without taking any truly substantive action.
NCLB’s perverse effects are illustrated by Michigan, which dropped its relatively demanding standards when it had over 1,500 schools on NCLB’s first “needs improvement” list. The July 2002 transformation of then-state superintendent Tom Watkins captures NCLB’s power. Early that month, when discussing the effects of state budget cuts on Michigan schools, Mr. Watkins declared that cuts or no cuts, “We don’t lower standards in this state!” A few weeks later, thanks to NCLB, Michigan cut drastically the percentage of students who needed to hit proficiency on state tests for a school to make adequate yearly progress. “Michigan stretches to do what’s right with our children,” Mr. Watkins said, “but we’re not going to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Madison’s Leopold and Lincoln elementary schools were among the list of schools failing to attain the standards, marking the first time that a Madison elementary school made the list.
Three Madison middle schools — Sherman, Cherokee and Toki — also joined the list, which continued to include the district’s four major high schools: East, West, La Follette and Memorial. Madison’s Black Hawk Middle School, which was on the list last year, made enough academic progress to be removed from it.