School proposal too heavy on the stick (Do you agree? Take our poll)

/ 27 February 2012 / jennifer

Mankato Free Press Editorial, February 27, 2012 –

A proposal on school accountability recently approved by a Minnesota House legislative committee would require an approach that is more stick than carrot and might only end up duplicating the problems with the federal No Child Left Behind law.

It’s a bit puzzling that House Republicans would pursue their own approach after Minnesota recently received a waiver from similar provisions of the NCLB law that even many Republicans were trying to change. Minnesota was recently granted a waiver from some of the more onerous NCLB provisions, but the Republican plan seems to put some of those back into place.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, chair of the House Education Finance Committee, offered a proposal (HF 2180) that would impose penalties on schools not meeting new requirements, including closing the school, converting it to a charter school, replacing and redesigning the school and/or removing teachers and principals.

Similar provisions were waived by the federal government as part of an agreement with the state to set up new standards and accountability measures.

Many of the core requirements of the No Child Left Behind were kept in place under Minnesota’s waiver, including the requirements for students and schools to make adequate yearly progress, close the achievement gap and require improvement plans if schools are falling short.

The waiver also keeps in place requirements for improving test scores, measurable proficiency in reading and math and graduation rates.

In short, the federal waiver removed the punishment provisions of the NCLB that were not only failing to achieve desired results, but were terribly costly to the taxpayer and disruptive to schools. Many Republicans at the federal level had grown to oppose many of the NCLB provisions.

So now some Republicans at the state level want to re-impose the punishments that didn’t work at the federal level. Those punishments didn’t work because different states were able to set different standards. Those who wanted to avoid being punished simply dumbed down their standards and curriculum.

There’s potential that would happen with the state proposal. There are state standards that are fairly uniform, but local schools have a lot of control on how standards are applied, graded and how teachers teach.

There are still many, many requirements for school accountability under the federal waiver. Schools must report on their “score” for each of four areas: student proficiency, student academic “growth,” achievement gap reductions (the goal is reducing gaps by 50 percent in six years) and graduation rates.

Schools will be given an overall score, and they will have to make that score as well as other achievement details available to the public on easily accessible websites. The Minnesota Department of Education will require an improvement plan if schools are not meeting their goals.

The Garofalo proposal seems to suggest there is not enough school accountability and it seems to put the emphasis on removing instead of improving schools.

You can track the progress of this bill and voting records by going towww.leg.state.mn.us/leg/legis.aspx.


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