According to Globe’s own analysis, 80% of Massachusetts middle schools aren’t making adequate yearly progress (AYP). What the Globe doesn’t tell you is that this is pretty much the case across the country.
According to MESPA, “seventy-four percent (74%) of Massachusetts schools will be named underperforming by the year 2014 under the accountability system created by the state for the federal No Child Left Behind act.”
At the moment, The Globe estimates that two-thirds of our middle schools are not meeting AYP. That’s pretty close to MESPA’s prediction for high schools.
Fairtest.org predicts that by 2014, 99% of California schools will fail under No Child Left Behind. Ninety-six percent of Illinois schools will fail. Between 88% and 93% of Connecticut schools will fail to make adequate yearly progress. Even with its relatively stringent testing program, Massachusetts comes in with more school passing.
The real question is why so many schools will fail to make adequate yearly progress. It is a question the Globe fails to honestly consider. The answer is that the law is set up to make schools fail. How? First AYP measures the progress of sub-groups, and though it’s good to consider the progress ethnic groups, non-native speakers, and special ed, an entire school can fail based on a single group of students, and if a single group of students is small enough, the failure of one or two students, can bring an entire school down. One school in my system almost had this experience.
No Child Left Behind is highly controversial, yet the Globe completely ignores the controversy. There is no mention of the fact that Congress was unable to garner enough support to renew the law. The paper’s objective is to advanced its standards-based agenda at the expense of journalistic ethics of balance and fairness.
The Globe’s intellectual slovenliness also manifests itself in its failure to reveal the methodology of its analysis or consider the possibility that their are other studies out there. The paper also goes so far as to misleadingly characterize the Thomas B. Fordham Institute as a “nonprofit that works on education policy.” It’s a conservative education think tank, fellas. There’s certainly no reason not to quote the institute’s vice president, but it is sloppy, if not dishonest, not to reveal the organization’s agenda.
Based on the Globe’s education editorials, it’s my conclusion that James Vaznis, whose name graces the byline, is carrying the reportial water of the Editors. After all, it’s the Globe’s, not Vaznis’s, analysis of middle schools that prompted the story. I may be mistaken, but Vaznis doesn’t usually report on educational news.
Do middle schools need improvement? All schools, indeed all organizations, need constant improvement. Unfortunately, the Globe doesn’t even make a prima facie case for it.