"Although great gains have been made in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System (WS/FCS), the district did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in Reading (for four years in a row) or Math (for two years in a row) in grade spans 3-5, 6-8, and at the high school level, based on 2005-2006 test results. According to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the district is entering Corrective Action Phase of District Improvement. This identification means several things for the school district.
First, the district will continue to identify steps to improve student achievement by revising the school district’s Title I District Improvement Plan. This plan describes what the school district will do to help low-achieving children meet challenging academic achievement standards. In revising the plan, the district will consult with parents, school staff and others…
Second, in revising its Title I plan, WS/FCS is required to focus on the professional development needs of its instructional staff. This must be done by directly addressing the academic achievement problem(s) that caused the school district to be identified for improvement. (Emphasis mine)"
While I’m sure there are teachers that need improvement, and there are some that are incompetent, I don’t think you can lay the blame at their feet. The problem is probably much deeper and I suspect that we parents are as responsible for the kids’ failures as the teachers, if not more so. I’m also sure that there are plenty of kids who are themselves responsible; raise your hand if you know a bright, lazy kid. So why mandate professional development for teachers and yet not mandate some sort of participation by parents of underachieving kids? Why not mandate that underachieving kids have to stay after school for tutoring?
The larger questions about whether No Child Left Behind is worth a damn, or if evaluating schools based solely on standardized tests is a good idea are too sticky to get into here. But simply by looking at the current educational context and accepting the goal of a minimum number of children passing the tests we should ask ourselves if addressing one part of the equation, teachers, is adequate. I dare say it’s not, and I hope that the consultation with parents and school staff will result in at least some discussion of the expectations for parents and students in the process since the law doesn’t mandate it. I don’t care how much training a teacher gets; if they aren’t supported by the parents the kids are lost, and if the kids aren’t held accountable then they’re going to continue to fail.
**Update: Esbee has a great post on homeschooling that I think is relevant to this piece.**