NCLB and the Stress Between “Bringing up the Bottom and Supporting High End Kids”

A reader involved in these issues emailed this article by Andrew Rotherham:

Second, the story highlights my colleague Tom Toch’s criticism that a lot of tests states are using under NCLB are pretty basic. That’s exactly right. I’m all for better tests, but isn’t that, you know, an indictment of schools that can’t even get kids over a pretty low bar rather than an indictment of the law? In other words, excepting some fine-grained issues around special populations, NCLB can’t be wildly unrealistic in what it demands of schools and really basic at the same time, can it? The story doesn’t sift through that in detail but would be nice if some journo would.* The reality is that we don’t deliver a very powerful instructional program in a lot of schools, and that’s not the fault of NCLB.
*Related, there is a tension between high-performing students and low-performing ones in terms of where to put resources and attention. Not completely binary, and plenty of students falling behind today could be high performers in better schools. But still there and mostly talked about in code words rather than forthrightly: Are we as a nation better off really focusing on the millions of kids at the wrong end of the achievement gap even if its suboptimal for kids on the high end? And spare me the rhetoric about how you can easily do both. You can to some extent but constrained resources, carrots and sticks in policy, and time constraints all make tradeoffs a reality.

A few other readers have mentioned that this is a conversation Madison needs to have.

One thought on “NCLB and the Stress Between “Bringing up the Bottom and Supporting High End Kids””

  1. The “competition” between lower achieving kids and high achieving kids may exist, but the extent of this competition may be excerabated by ineffective approaches to teaching, teaching fads, politically motivated fads.
    We need real valid data driven discussions and analysis, and placing responsibilities and support where they will be most effective and doing so without blame (for the most part).
    We also need to identify where we, as a society, actively conspire against lower achieving kids and families. Could there be any doubt that society is conspiring when it declares a certain building in Allied as a nuisance resulting in families being evicted who are blameless, the kids, trying to study and keep up with school when they are being made homeless by direct order of the city of Madison.
    The schools are not to blame for this, and the schools cannot solve it, and the families affected are not to blame.

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