156 Wisconsin Schools Fail to Meet No Child Left Behind Standards


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.”

Andy Hall:

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.

6 thoughts on “156 Wisconsin Schools Fail to Meet No Child Left Behind Standards”

  1. Unfortunately at this time both Obama and McCain still support NCLB. What’s a concerned citizen to do?

  2. It would be interesting to know whether Superintendent Rainwater (or, in six days, Superintendent Nerad) supports or opposes the “No Child Left Behind Recess Until Reauthorization Act” (H.R. 6239).

  3. While I agree that NCLB is not the answer and never will be. And I realize that NCLB only looks at specific general aspects of the schools and not individual administrators, teachers, student populations and a host of other aspects that affect our schools. We are the sum of our parts. Perhaps this is an opportunity to look a bit introspectively at our parts. Are they all the best? Are there certain changes that could be made to improve things, NCLB or not? What are the schools who are passing doing that we aren’t? I have a hard time believing that the only ones who passed are ones who lowered their standards. We’re too big of a country for that to be the real case. MMSD isn’t perfect and there is always room for improvement. Let’s not shut the door on that just b/c we all agree that NCLB is a ridiculous unfunded law.

  4. The irony of NCLB, from my perspective, is that the law [while President Bush is often blamed (or praised) for it, Senator Kennedy was a key author] allows states to SET THEIR OWN STANDARDS.
    Think about that.
    We’re talking about improvements to the standards set by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Superintendent Libby Burmaster was principal of Madison West High School for nearly a decade:
    Kevin Carey:
    The Pangloss Index ranks Wisconsin as the most optimistic state in the nation. Wisconsin scores well on some educational measures, like the SAT, but lags behind in others, such as achievement gaps for minority students. But according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the state is a modern-day educational utopia where a large majority of students meet academic standards, high school graduation rates are high, every school is safe and nearly all teachers are highly qualified. School districts around the nation are struggling to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the primary standard of school and district success under NCLB. Yet 99.8 percent of Wisconsin districts—425 out of 426—made AYP in 2004–05.
    How is that possible? As Table 2 shows, some states have identified the large majority of districts as not making AYP. The answer lies with the way Wisconsin has chosen to define the AYP standard.
    More here:

  5. Jim,
    While watching a documentary on NCLB on HBO an interesting question was brought up while they reviewed a High School in Baltimore that has failed for several years in a row. (drop out 50% and graduation of 50%) Does the federal government and states really have a financially feasable and academic “plan” to help these schools and has there even been a school that has been closed due to the NCLB? If there was a candidate for a school to be taken over this was it yet nothing has been done to this school except “expert consultants” that have visited the school.

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