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Posted at 11:19 PM ET, 03/18/2010

School restructuring and AYP

By Valerie Strauss

It’s a good thing that President Obama wants to eliminate the requirement in No Child Left Behind that requires schools to prove that students are making “adequate yearly progress.”

According to a new report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center on Education Policy, which analyzed data from every state, one-third of the nation’s public schools failed to meet AYP targets in the 2008-09 school year. In Florida, 77 percent of the schools failed.

Obama’s devotion to school turnarounds, however, is a real concern. An article in the online magazine by education writer Alexander Russo--who blogs at, explains the sometimes dangerous consequences to the practice.

Under No Child Left Behind, and in Obama’s new vision for the rewritten NCLB, schools that do not meet AYP targets for five straight years are subject to “restructuring efforts.”

Options under the law include closing a school and then reopening it as a public charter school, turning the school over to a state’s educational agency, allowing a private management company or other outside entity to operate the school, and replacing some or all of the staff.

Probably the most dramatic of these choices is the option to remove all educators and staff and start over (though, in these cases, some teachers are rehired). That’s what recently happened in Central Falls, Rhode Island; it became big news that all the adults in the only high school in the state’s smallest and poorest city were being fired after five years of low student achievement.

A big problem is that the vast majority of restructuring efforts don’t work well enough to get a school out of the status of having failed AYP. In his article, Russo also explains some of the other, dangerous consequences of the practice.

He writes, for example, that the death of a teenager was an indirect result of a “turnaround effort” in Chicago when one high school was closed, forcing students, including members of a gang, to attend a school with a rival gang.

Read the whole article here.

And here are some other findings from the report on schools failing to make AYP:

*In nine states and the District of Columbia, at least half the public schools did not make AYP in 2008-09. In a majority of the states (34 plus Washington D.C.), at least one-fourth of the schools did not make AYP.

*The percentage of public schools not making AYP varied greatly by state, from 6% in Wisconsin to 77% in Florida.

But--and this is a big but--differences among states often had nothing to do with the quality of the schools but were likely due to state variations in standards, tests, cut scores for proficient performance on those tests, and methods for calculating AYP.

*No clear pattern was evident in the four largest states, which together enroll more than one-third of the nation’s students. The estimated percentages of schools that fell short of AYP in these states were 77% in Florida, 49% in California, 20% in Texas, and 16% in New York.

*In Maryland, 23 percent failed to meet AYP, and in Virginia, 29 percent did not.


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By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 11:19 PM ET
Categories:  No Child Left Behind  | Tags:  NCLB, No Child Left Behind, President Obama, restructuring schools; education reform  
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There's a really simple way to change failing schools that I haven't seen anyone
mention, and that is to run these schools the way special education schools are run:

1. Limit all classes to 8-10 students

2. Implement I.E.P.s for each student
as they probably need the same
number of accommodations as Special
Ed students to catch up

3. Give each teacher an assistant

4. Have tutors, counselors, family
coordinators and transition
specialists on staff

5. Do the prior 4 steps for at least
5 years and you might be able to
get the families and community to be
involved and help turn the whole
system around.

Yes, I am serious, and yes it would be expensive, but how much is it costing society in time,students being short-changed and careers blown up to completely change entire schools?

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | March 19, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The student with an IEP or regular diploma can't even get a job. They throw away their dreams. This is dangerous to the economy. It's not their fault. What's the problem?

Our education systems has fallen below national standards. Can you believe this?

Unions demand tenure and higher wages.
They have no idea how to put ball under the table instead of putting the ball on the table. They understand the word "under" and never understood how to put it. They only failed the students who put ball on the table.

This is really sad. It's happening everywhere. We are going to see malfeasance, workplace dishonesty, greed, and highest unemployment rate in the U.S history.

Posted by: Readist | March 19, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

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