Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Study Charges that NCLB Waivers Dilute Focus on At-Risk Students

In a review of the 41 NCLB waivers that the Department of Education has granted, the Campaign for High School Equity finds:

that many states have failed to address clearly and fully the needs of our most vulnerable students. Some states, with the approval of the U.S. Department of Education, abandon a primary focus on subgroup accountability—a central tenet of NCLB—and weaken efforts to close achievement gaps and improve education for all students. Significant progress has been made under NCLB to ensure that the needs of all students—including underserved students—mattered; a school could not be deemed successful, regardless of overall performance, if a subgroup of students was struggling. Provisions of NCLB have ensured that the achievement of all students by subgroup was counted; school progress regarding improving achievement of subgroups of students was publicly reported, and when a school did not adequately improve student achievement for subgroups of students, an intervention was triggered to better support student success. While NCLB has many provisions that need revision, subgroup accountability provisions have shone a bright light on the achievement of all students and have ensured that the children who need it most get help. Yet, our analysis shows that several of the Administration’s approved ESEA waivers undermine subgroup accountability, instead of making it the central focus of statewide accountability systems.

Under NCLB, the low academic achievement of a single subgroup triggered an intervention. In other words, if a single subgroup missed a performance target for two or more consecutive years, the school was required by federal law to implement an intervention. Under waivers, the Administration is allowing several states to use subgroup data to “drive” interventions in schools. The term “drive” is undefined, though it appears to mean “inform.” The difference between subgroup accountability under NCLB and under waivers is that, under NCLB, subgroup performance triggers an intervention. Under waivers in several states, it appears subgroup data will inform intervention, but may not trigger it.

The full report is available here.

Equity in education, Federal policy, Scholarship | Permalink


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