This year, California schools were required to make what experts call a gigantic leap, increasing the students proficient in every group by 11 percentage points, reports The New York Times. For the first time, hundreds of California schools fell short, a failure that results in probation and, unless reversed, federal sanctions within a year.
Across the nation, far more schools failed to meet the federal law’s testing targets than in any previous year, according to new state-by-state data. And in California and some other states, the problem traces in part to the fact that officials chose to require only minimal gains in the first years after the law passed and then very rapid annual gains later. One researcher likens it to the balloon payments that can sink homebuyers.
Part of the reason for the troubles was that the states gambled the law would have been softened when it came up for reauthorization in 2007, but efforts to change it stalled. This year Congress made no organized attempt to reconsider the law. With the nation facing urgent challenges, including two wars and economic turmoil, it could be a year or more before the new president can work with Congress to rewrite the law…

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