Unless you live in Ohio, get used to paying for supplemental education.Robert M. Goldman, CFA
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From what I’ve seen as an educator, I believe our nation’s school system, developed of course by well meaning adults, encourages mediocrity. And, on this dimension the adults have well succeeded – our nation’s students are indeed mediocre. Please see my blog of December 11, 2016, entitled, “Our students are falling behind, but we expect a renaissance in new education solutions. InFocus Capital Partners can help.”
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act signed into law by President Bush in January 2002 encouraged this mediocrity. According to the Thomas P. Fordham Institute, “[under] NCLB, schools would be held to account for getting increasing proportions of their students, and increasing proportions of key subgroups, to “proficiency” in reading and math. States would define “proficiency” as they saw fit, but they would eventually need to sanction any school that didn’t raise all of its students to that level. Faced with these requirements, most states did the rational thing and set the proficiency bar low. And that move, combined with NCLB’s mandatory cascade of sanctions, created a powerful incentive for schools to pay close attention to students below the proficiency bar. Conversely, there was absolutely no incentive to worry about the achievement of those who had already reached, or were likely to reach, that bar. To put it bluntly, NCLB did some good for America’s struggling pupils, but for high achievers, it mostly just hit the education pause button.”
NCLB is no more, having been replaced by the equally, in my opinion, well meaning fantasy name, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law by President Obama in December 2015. We believe ESSA is a meaningful improvement over NCLB on several dimensions, especially as power is redirected to the States and there exists at least the possibility that States will focus somewhat on higher achieving students. Click here for a primer on ESSA by the Alliance for Excellent Education.
Under ESSA, States have until April 2018 to set various performance metrics and under ESSA States have significant latitude in deciding what metrics to set.
The aforementioned Thomas P. Fordham Institute published a report in August 2016 entitled, “High States for High Achievers: State Accountability in the Age of ESSA”. That report catalogued whether or not each State assessed student scores on four dimensions; (1) Does the state rate schools’ “academic achievement” using a model that gives additional credit for students achieving at an “advanced” level?, (2) Does the state rate schools’ growth using a model that looks at the progress of all individual students, not just those below the “proficient” line?, (3) Does the state’s accountability system include “gifted students,” “high achieving students,” or the like as a subgroup and report their results separately?, and (4) When calculating summative school ratings, does “growth for all students” count for at least half of the rating?
We believe metrics (1) and (3) indicate a real seriousness on the part of the State to promote the interests of high achievers. So, which States now provide such metrics?
Only one – Ohio.
For those parents who hope for somewhat more than mediocrity for their students, you have two choices, as I see it – either get used to paying for tutors and/or get in front of your state legislators and demand high achievement student metrics.