December 11 2008
Vicki E. Alger
Three-hundred schools were recently honored in Washington, DC, as "No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools," but one advocate for school choice says the tribute might have been a bit premature.
Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), public school administrators must administer a yearly standardized test to all students in order to show progress as the students advance through the grade levels. If the students fail to show adequate progression, then the school gets put on a list of "failing schools."
Dr. Vicky Murray, a visiting scholar with the Independent Women's Forum, says the so-called Blue Ribbon schools that were recently honored in DC may not be blue-ribbon quality.
"I'm looking at schools that did receive the Blue Ribbon distinction in 2007 and have everything going for them, but students in at least one grade in one subject -- at least a quarter of those students or more -- did not test proficient in a course subject," she points out.
Murray is also surprised that these schools are "low poverty" schools and fears that parents could be misled into thinking that schools that were honored are educating their children. She believes a way to enhance NCLB would be to require more course-level proficiency tests in addition to the already required reading and math tests, adding that the real solution would be to provide parents with an exit strategy from schools that fail to perform.