‘No Child’ defines nothing but failure

Published 1:45 pm Monday, November 9, 2009

No Child Left Behind test scores are out in Illinois and the results are tiredly the same.

Failure, failure, failure.

We’ve lamented this before (More children left behind,” our Sept. 17 editorial on Iowa Q-C’s dismal No Child results).

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And we’ll keep raising concerns as long as Quad-City schoolchildren continue to be anchored to a program that keeps producing such lousy results.

This year, every Illinois metro Quad-City high school failed to make the progress demanded by this wildly flawed and inaccurate assessment.

Every one.

No Child Left Behind uses a very narrow range of testing that doesn’t begin to measure the breadth of education being offered here. Quad-City public education isn’t perfect. But it isn’t the failure these tests report year after year. Not just here, but everywhere.

Forty percent of Illinois’ 1,553 schools fell below the No Child bar. That’s 31 percent more failure than last year.

These disastrous test results are no reflection of reality. Dropout rates are not soaring. Graduation rates haven’t plummeted. By every rational, detailed measure, these schools are succeeding and adapting to significant change.

Yet these inaccurate No Child results force districts to jump through hoops that cost money, waste time, and, by the program’s own measure, aren’t working.

The No Child system boldly proclaims that some families can pull out of schools with these phony failing test scores. But when every high school fails, where do you go?

Now every high school is on the path toward No Child’s worst outcome: Removing curriculum and instructional oversight from the hands of local school boards, and foisting it on state bureaucrats in Springfield or Des Moines.

This is precisely the outcome in store for 40 percent of all Illinois schools and 21 percent of all Iowa schools. And every year, the percentage gets higher.

Seven years of No Child have failed to produce improvements.

Without congressional and state legislative action, these schools will keep trying to meet unreachable standards.

We’re all for specific high standards, like solid ACT scores and graduation rates, declining dropout rates and standardized testing that allows parents to effectively compare outcomes.

No Child substitutes those specific and proven measures in favor of this program that unavoidably pushes more schools toward state control. That’s an outcome we’re not interested in, no matter what the test scores say.