The massive fraud brought about by No Child Left Behind

In Michael Goodwin’s May 29 column preceding his ground-breaking June 1 column that I posted yesterday, New York City teachers tell him that they are encouraged or required to pass 80 percent of their pupils, regardless of grades and attendance, though one teacher mentions a mandated pass rate of 60 percent. The school principals require these pass rates, because the alternative is to have the school closed by the federal Department of Education and for the administrators and teachers to lose their jobs. This is the result of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, which forces “failing” schools to close by withdrawing federal funds from them, and which defines such “failing” in terms of pupils’ non-attainment of a prescribed improvement in their grades and test results. This means that a school with a large number of low IQ pupils will automatically be classified as a “failing” school and must be closed. So the principals and teachers, simply in order to protect their livelihood, are forced to pass students who are actually failing or who are not even attending.

All of this was foreseen years ago when No Child Left Behind was first introduced (see my comments from 2003, below). Because of America’s ideological refusal to admit that there are inherent individual and group differences in intellectual ability and aspiration, the natural low ability and aspiration of certain groups is translated into the “failure” of the schools that have a large number of pupils from those groups to raise those pupils’ intellectual performance to the desired, and impossible to achieve, level.

In short, because of America’s refusal to recognize the fact that blacks are on average significantly less intelligent than whites, hard-working teachers and schools are classified as “failing” and the teachers are threatened with losing their jobs.

And the same logic applies to the society as a whole. Because of our refusal to acknowledge that blacks are less endowed with civilizational abilities than other groups, America itself is falsely condemned for keeping blacks down or for not “doing enough” to raise them up. Ultimately, America is declared a “failed” society and is put out of existence.

Here is the Goodwin piece:

Teachers hostage to ‘success’
May 29, 2011

The e-mail box runneth over with bad tidings. Teachers are reporting that cheating is rampant in New York City schools—and they claim principals are the culprits.

The reports are responding to my column that many schools are denying students the freedom to fail in a misguided bid to help them. To judge from the response, the problem is worse than I feared. Much worse.

First, a professional in a Manhattan high school wrote to say that teachers in her school are “encouraged” to pass 80 percent of students, no matter their grades or attendance. She offered student writing samples filled with glaring errors of spelling and grammar to prove that “social promotion is alive and well.”

Now others are revealing shocking examples from their schools about how unprepared kids are being pushed along to the next grade and out the door with a sham diploma. Their disheartening tales deserve attention.

“Our mandated passing rate is 60 percent,” one wrote. “We need to explain in detail why this student failed, what methods were used to get him to pass, how much home contact was made.

“The one group that is not called in for interrogation is the students themselves. No blame falls on them … The students know what is going on. It has empowered them to feel that they can work less or not at all and still pass the class.”

Another, from a Brooklyn high school, says the principal fudges attendance and grades with a warning that unless the school improves, the Department of Education will close it and teachers will lose their jobs.

“The administration allows students to run around, go to class for 5 minutes, and we must mark them present,” he wrote. “We are also encouraged to change attendance of students marked absent up to 2 weeks earlier, looking for ‘proof’ they are absent. So teachers just give up and mark them present.”

He added, “Teachers are scared into passing students that do not deserve it.”

A teacher in another troubled high school also says 80 percent of students must pass, writing: “We have about 20 teaching days left and I have yet to see 23 percent of my students. Which means if I pass everyone else, I can only get a 77 percent passing percentage, which by city standards is unacceptable.

“I have written letters and called homes and I still can’t get these students into my class. I have about 8-10 percent of my students who cannot read or speak English at a 4th or 5th grade level, due to the fact that they are immigrant students. Then there is the 10 percent that should not be in high school to begin with. This means that at best 60 percent should pass.

“Here is my dilemma—do I give students the grade they deserve or do I do the 80 percent? I do the 80 percent, my school stays open and I am a good teacher (The Post may even say something nice about me). Or do I give the grade the students deserve and my school closes and I lose my job because I am a lousy teacher?”

I have kept the teachers’ names and their schools anonymous at their request. As one said, “Tenure or not, telling the truth is a crime the DOE would not forgive.”

Fraudulent stats certainly are not an issue at every school, or even most. But they are clearly a problem when only half of all students do math and English at grade level, yet more than 95 percent are routinely promoted. And with 75 percent of grads who go to city community colleges needing remediation, a diploma does not guarantee an educated student.

Obviously, city officials don’t take the issue seriously. Cheating allegations were raised against the principal by students and teachers at Lehman HS in The Bronx. City Hall announced a probe, even though the principal got a $25,000 bonus for the school’s progress.

That was in 2009, and the probe is still not finished. Meanwhile, Lehman was recently selected for the federal “restart” program, which will mean more money and a nonprofit partner to help teachers—and the same principal.

So, for some, cheating pays.

- end of initial entry -

James N. writes:

I have thought for the longest time that the courageous teachers who take on majority black schools with a mandate to achieve 12th grade proficiency, and at the 100 percent level no less, were being unfairly maligned.

The presuppositions of NCLB require that an empire of lies be created and sustained. Constant lying is very bad for all involved, but is most damaging to those who must lie on pain of losing their jobs.

N. writes:

Years ago when No Child left Behind was passed, I knew a man who had been a teacher but who had changed careers. He gave up on teaching in part due to the increase bureaucratic demands.

His opinion of NCLB was “It could only work at Lake Woebegon, where all the children are above average.”

LA replies:

There are many conservatives who support NCLB to this day because, as they put it, we had to do something to shake up the schools. My reply is, You don’t do something, if the something is going to make things worse.

James N. replies:

Yes, you must do something, anything - except tell the truth.

LA writes:

That No Child Left Behind would force school systems to engage in massive fraud is something I’ve been saying from the beginning. In a thread in October 2003 I wrote:

[The mainstream conservatives] want to raise standards for blacks, but by insisting that this raising of standards WILL and MUST lead to COMPLETE RACIAL EQUALITY OF RESULTS, they create an irresistible pressure for the LOWERING of standards so as to get the required equality. Look at President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law. It’s based on the idea that moving children from bad schools into schools with higher standards will make all children equal. But the impossibility of actually getting the required equality pushes the schools to keep fuzzing test results and lowering standards. [Emphasis added.]

I’ve also been saying from the beginning that NCLB, in the classic liberal manner of Rouseau, blames society and its institutions for human failings and inequalities that are not society’s fault. In a related entry also posted in October 2003, I wrote:

The main ameliorative effort of the Bush administration, the embarrassingly named “No Child Left Behind” law, incorporates the assumption that any failure by any designated racial/ethnic group in a school to achieve equal outcomes or to show a requisite amount of improvement is a sign that the school is “failing,” a determination which requires the virtual dismantling of that school. This is the pure liberal paradigm, which blames the institutions of society for human beings’ innate inadequacies.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 02, 2011 10:39 AM | Send

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