Volume 3 Issue 3

Schools Examine Test Data to Guide Plans for What to Teach

Suzanne (Sukey) Blanc and Jolley Bruce Christman

School District moves toward 'data-driven decision-making,' but it's a challenging process.

On September 3, when Philadelphia kids were out shopping for back-to-school clothes or enjoying one of their last days for sleeping in, teachers and principals were closely examining last spring's PSSA and Terra Nova results as they worked on developing instructional goals and plans for the upcoming year.

Education law is tougher on diverse schools

Paul Socolar

Schools with more targets to meet under NCLB were far more likely to be branded as in need of improvement.

Some critics of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have argued that large schools and schools with a diverse student population are penalized by the law's provisions. School performance results from 2004 in Philadelphia appear to bear out this charge.

Few of the School District's larger and more diverse schools achieved what the state considers "adequate yearly progress" toward achievement goals set under NCLB. Some now argue that smaller and more homogeneous schools may be getting off easy while some relatively successful large or diverse schools may be getting unfairly labeled.

"Making AYP: The Game"

Benjamin Herold and Brian Lathrop

Schools and school districts across the country are under pressure to show that student performance on standardized tests is improving. Much of this pressure is based on the idea that clear expectations, combined with sanctions for poor performance, will motivate educators and students to try harder and do better. The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is the most comprehensive expression of this pressure. NCLB sets performance targets that schools and districts must meet - referred to as "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP). NCLB also outlines a series of escalating consequences for not meeting AYP targets.

Meier, D., & Wood, G. (Eds.). (2004). Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging our Children and our Schools. Boston: Beacon Press

Jason Fritz

"The more people see how NCLB actually works, the more it becomes clear that NCLB is not a tool for solving a crisis in public education, but a tool for creating one" (p. 65).

In its current form, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) will, undoubtedly, leave many children in its wake. Consequently, it is important for those directly involved with the public educational system to raise everyone's awareness about what such a piece of legislation entails. As it stands, NCLB's current form presents a myriad of potentially-devastating quandaries for public school districts across the United States. Many Children Left Behind's six essays detail the problems presented by NCLB in practice thus far and propose modification to the current legislation that would create a more distinct possibility of actually leaving no child behind.

Fine, M. (Producer), Roberts, R. (Artistic Director), Torre, M.E., & Bloom, J. (2004). Echoes of Brown: Youth Documenting and Performing the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education [DVD and Accompanying Book]. New York: Teachers College Press.

Lalitha Vasudevan

"I want to call all of you out who make call to actions and not make actions we can call on."
Yasmine Blanding, Echoes of Brown

The first time I viewed Echoes of Brown, I held my breath for the entire 54 minutes of talking, reflecting, and performing that moved across my computer screen. Seated in my office with no windows to inform me of day turning to night, I replayed several sections over and over again. How, I wondered, were the thirteen young people featured in this documentary making sense of the system of education that exists today as they considered the legacy of the legal battles fought and decided so many years ago? How did the arts - spoken word and dance, in particular - mediate this week-long critical reflection? What do these youth have to say about the education, equity, and schooling? And what are the ways in which their voices can be heard?

No Cow Left Behind: A Cautionary Tale

Alexandra Miletta and Katherine Morris

In green pastures across the heartland
Dairy farmers could tell with a glance
If their cows were unusually skinny
No prognosis was left up to chance

In time there were remedies
Recipes tested
Farmers were trained
New diets suggested

Despite some progress
The farmers were concerned
And did their best to uncover
What the cows had learned

About eating proper doses
And grazing in the field
So that they'd be healthy
Their stoutness revealed

Then the government issued a warning
"Our cows are underweight!
The ones in Europe and Asia
Get fat at a faster rate!"