Pennsylvania’s charter cheaters.

They tried to bury the news of Pennsylvania’s charter school cheaters by releasing it right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

But they got busted anyway.


The back story is this: The Duncan Department of Education requires schools to meet certain benchmarks to qualify as making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).

They require districts to meet a more lenient benchmark.

So the Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis treated charter schools as districts, not schools. But didn’t ask or tell the DOE that he had done it.

Then the charter school hucksters went around claiming that charter schools were superior based on having made AYP.

Shameless hucksters.

Say what you will about the AYP business that is a part of No Child Left Behind.

Most public schools in Illinois don’t even make AYP because it is a stupid standard.

But as for the charters school hucksters that lie and cheat and try to sneak around the law that traditional public schools are held accountable to?

What a model they set for the children they claim to teach.


The email arrived from the superintendent yesterday afternoon.

Our district failed to make Annual Yearly Progress according to No Child Left Behind.


We are a failing district.

Our students go on to Maine South in District 207. I hear they didn’t make AYP either.

And New Trier High School on the North Shore, with a college acceptance rate of over 98% and where they spend over $25,000 a year per student: Failure according to NCLB.

Will our school (among the top 50 performing elementary schools in the state) be closed? Will I be fired along with the rest of our staff? Will Arne Duncan and President Obama support our firing explaining that we are teachers who accept and created a culture of low expectations?

Will we be featured in a new documentary financed by Bill Gates?

Will we be turned into a charter or privately managed?

And why have we failed?

Have we not tested enough?

Is it because we have a union contract?

Do we not have enough accountability.

Is it the parents’ fault?

Is it because we have not yet written our Power Standards?

Is it because my Smartboard is on back order?

Do we need to publish the names of our shamed teachers in the local paper?

Of course, all this is nonsense.

Yes, we failed to make AYP. And nobody around here worries.

The schools that get punished as a result of NCLB are not on the north shore of Chicago or in Park Ridge. And they never will be.

And that is the real failure.

NAEP scores = NCLB failure.

FairTest’s Monty Neill’s letter to the NY Times:

The recent National Assessment of Educational Progress report confirms the failure of the test-and-punish No Child Left Behind law. Reading scores are stagnant, and ethnic gaps are not narrowing significantly.

Previously, math data showed progress slowed after the law was signed. Now progress for low-scoring readers has also slowed. Over all, gaps in achievement between whites and minority students closed more rapidly in the 1990s than today.

Despite these failures, Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s plan for revising the law puts even more emphasis on standardized exams. For example, evaluating teachers based on their students’ scores will encourage more test prep and less real learning.

Congress should replace No Child Left Behind with a law aimed at helping struggling schools develop the capacity to meet children’s real needs. The Forum on Educational Accountability has drafted such a plan.

Monty Neill

Boston, March 25, 2010

The writer is interim executive director of FairTest and chairman of the Forum on Educational Accountability.

NAEP results. Meaning for NCLB? Blah, blah, blah.

There will be tons written on today’s release of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But let me spare you.

NCLB has been a huge waste. But you knew that before. Didn’t you?


Since 1990, students’ NAEP performance in 4th and 8th grade math has been a story of steady, if slow, progress. Policymakers have been more puzzled and concerned by the leveling-off that occurs among older students, whose scores on a separate NAEP, designed to measure long-term trends, have been nearly unchanged at the high school level since the late 1970s.

Today’s NAEP results, however, show that 4th graders’ scores were the same, 240, in 2009 as they were in 2007, on a 500-point scale. By comparison, those scores jumped from 226 to 235 from 2000 to 2003, and rose by at least 2 points in the two testing cycles prior to the current one.

NEA’s Van Roekel on ESEA reauthorization.

ra2008_080412_vanroekelNEA Prez Dennis Van Roekel on ESEA reauthorization.

“The time to fix the flawed federal education law has come. We can’t afford to start another school year living with the unintended consequences of a law that has judged schools and students based solely on standardized test scores and that has narrowed the curriculum at the expense of preparing students with 21st century skills.

Precisely put.

To Duncan’s USDE, it’s not what you know. It’s do you know it in English?

Some defenders of No Child applaud the fact that the testing results are broken down by gender, nationality or race, English language learners and other categories. This was suppose to strike a blow for equity. Except…

In Oregon, the part of the law that permitted ELL students to take the tests in their primary language was ignored. In fact, the test that was going to be used for Spanish speaking students was found not to meet USDE standards and banned. Then the Spanish speaking students were forced to take the tests in English, which apparently met Federal standards.

You would be shocked to learn that as a result a larger number of schools failed to meet AYP and were labled as inferior or failing schools.

The Oregonian:

The federal No Child Left Behind Act allows students to be tested in their native languages, but the U.S. Department of Education decided the commercial Spanish test that Oregon used — Aprenda — did not meet federal requirements. So the state cut it last winter.

As a result, the number of third-graders meeting or exceeding state benchmarks for reading dipped at some schools in Forest Grove, Woodburn and Beaverton, making it appear as if fewer students met “adequate yearly progress.”

PDK/Gallup: Obama on education. Scrap NCLB.

A poll by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup show more Americans think Obama is better than McCain on education. A low bar to be sure, but just the same. Only 16 percent support the extension of NCLB in its present form. Twenty-seven percent say we should dump NCLB entirely.


Sherman Dorn was interested in the responses. But when he saw the demographics of the sample, his jaw dropped.

65% women, 84% white, 50% aged 50 and older, 44% college graduates (and 71% with some college experience), 43% with incomes $50K and above, and 19% from the Census West region of the country.

And here I thought that was the standard research sample. Except for the woman part.

Who is missing?

Sherman Dorn takes a break from his vacation from blogging to ask this question:

I promised not to comment on anything during my two-week break, but the NewTalk NCLBfest made me wonder who’s missing from this debate. Your observations in the comments are most welcome.

The obvious answer: A classroom teacher.

Plus, the panel John Merrow does select is so tilted right it threatens to fall off the edge of the earth. Merrow use to care about what went on in classrooms. But he seems to have turned into a shill for the Rhee/Klein crowd these days.

AFT and NEA on different NCLB pages?

Randi Weingarten, new UFT Prez, blasts NCLB.

Following the as expected election of UFT president Randi Weingarten and then her strong anti-NCLB speech, Ed Week’s “teacher beat” reporter Vaishali Honawar tries to make the claim that the UFT and the NEA are on different pages when it comes to NCLB. She reports that the AFT voted with no opposition to call for repeal of NCLB, while the NEA continues to promote a fix it and fund it approach. David Hoff tries to make a big deal of it as well, suggesting a UFT flip-flop.

But I’m not so sure that there is a distinction with a difference. The politics of federal education law with the Democrats running both the House and the Senate and with a Democratic president in the White House might (and I say, “might” because we know that NCLB started out as a bi-partisan effort) change the education landscape enough that any position taken now will become meaningless. After all, there will be a federal education law.

Naturally, Rotherham goes the other way.

I’ve always thought the arguments between fix it and dump it were not all that helpful and I still think so. Good for both unions for their consistent opposition to NCLB over the lifetime of the law. We started out pretty much alone in our opposition to NCLB and now NCLB reauthorization is basically dead, at least under that name.