Schools approach No Child Left Behind deadline; Feds say nation’s schools cannot meet it

President Barack Obama recently declared that next year, as many as four out of five public schools could fail to meet the education achievement levels mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act if Congress does not rewrite the law soon.

Leaving it in as is could place states in the position of having to implement across-the-board teacher firings, and/or taking over most schools, reinventing or closing them.

U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan has been quoted repeatedly saying schools cannot meet the law’s requirement for 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by the 2014 deadline.

That isn’t going to happen,” Duncan has said.

The law was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2001 by President George W. Bush.

In Oklahoma, state department of education data shows 90 schools and nine school districts statewide that “need to improve” (the act’s terminology) under the law. Both urban school districts, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, are among them.

In the early stages of needing improvement, the federal law offers funding support for tutoring, teacher mentoring and programs to help raise student scores.

But on the flip side, if a school doesn’t improve, there are escalating levels of sanctions, culminating in firing and replacing teachers, closing or taking over the school, converting it to a charter school or other actions. Or, a school can simply be closed.
We did an analysis which shows that — next year — the number of schools not meeting their goals under NCLB could double to over 80 percent — even if we assume that all schools will gain as much as the top quartile in the state,” Duncan is quoted as saying.

So let me repeat that: four out of five schools in America many not meet their goals under NCLB by next year. The consequences under the current law are very clear: states and districts all across America may have to intervene in more and more schools each year, implementing the exact same interventions regardless of the schools’ individual needs.”

If changes aren’t made, the nation’s schools will be at the law’s “crisis” phase; states could be forced to take over thousands of schools or fire and replace legions of teachers, according to Duncan.

Currently, 18 schools in the Oklahoma City Public School District are in some stage of “needing to improve.”

Dunbar Elementary has been closed. Half of U.S. Grant High School’s teachers have been fired and replaced. F.D. Moon Academy is in its fifth year, nearing a point at which the district could fire and replace teachers, close the school or take other substantive actions.

Oklahoma City Public School District sites on the need to improve list are primarily elementary and middle schools.

The elementary schools needing to improve are Arthur, Bodine, Coolidge, F.D. Moon, Dunbar (already closed), Emerson Alternative, Shidler and Willow Brook.
The middle schools are Jackson, Jefferson, Rogers, Roosevelt, Taft, Webster, Oklahoma Centennial, Emerson Alternative and Santa Fe South.