The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a news release today saying the federal government has approved "growth" plans submitted by Missouri and Michigan:
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education officials outlined the growth model today in a discussion with the State Board of Education during its meeting in Jefferson City.
The growth model looks at the academic performance of individual students to determine if they are “on track to be proficient” within four years. If students who are scoring below the “proficient” standard in reading or math are making progress and appear likely (“on track”) to achieve proficiency, then they may be counted with the school’s other proficient students.
Schools will be able to count students as “on track” for no more than four years and only until the eighth grade.
Of course, even this still does not eliminate the impossibility of ever reaching the lofty standards of No Child Left Behind. There is no activity in which 100 percent of the people are proficient. When it comes to school, some children are better at math than reading, or better at science than history.
Besides, what No Child Left Behind does is place 100 percent of the responsibility for the schools. Of course, teachers and administrators should be held accountable for a portion of the blame when students do not succeed, but placing all of the blame in one direction does not solve the problem. How can teachers and school administrators deal with students who do not care whether they learn and do not receive any encouragement at home. How can teachers be expected to be successful 100 percent of the time with students who come from homes where drugs and alcohol are present, and where the students suffer through physical, emotional, and sexual abuse?
And how can schools be expected to cope with the kind of poverty that makes students more concerned about when or if they will have their next meal than whether they have completed their homework.
The fact that teachers are able to reach so many children who live is these kinds of conditions is consistently overlooked by self-serving politicians who want to gain a few extra votes or more dollars from well-heeled contributors by using the public schools as a scapegoat.
The federal government's decision to accept this sensible growth plan is a positive step, but since it is an election year, I expect it won't be long before the other shoe falls.