Saturday, January 22, 2005

The ruse behind 'standards'

In response to Perlstein's article, Fred Clark at the Slactivist is on fire. He gets it.
The significance of that "Adequate Yearly Progress" standard was ignored by every school in the nation. They failed to understand how NCLB changed the rules for education. They swallowed the ruse that this is about educational "standards."

It's not about standards. Standards, in education, would mean deciding that all students in a particular grade must learn X, Y and Z in order to move on to the next grade. Students could be required to take a test each year to prove they had mastered those standards.

But that's not what NCLB requires. It requires that a school's scores on such annual tests must improve every year. Failure to improve is regarded simply as failure. The only standard that counts, in other words, is the previous year's scores.

To illustrate how insane this really is, consider Ted Williams' triple-crown season in 1942 -- one of the most remarkable seasons ever put together at the plate in baseball history. He batted .356 with 137 RBIs and 36 home runs (and that was when 36 home runs still meant something).

According to the standards of NCLB, that season was a failure. Teddy Ballgame failed to demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress. His batting average and home run totals failed to improve upon the previous year's (.406, 37). Failure, glorious failure.

A more successful hitter that year would be someone like Washington Senators backup Mike "Shotgun" Chartak, whose 10 homers and .237 average in 1942 were significant improvements over his previous big league marks. Unlike Williams, Chartak demonstrated Adequate Yearly Progress.

From eRob.