Nearly half of America’s public schools didn’t meet federal achievement standards this year, marking the largest failure rate since the much-criticized No Child Left Behind law took effect a decade ago, according to a national report released Dec. 15.
The Center on Education Policy report shows more than 43,000 schools—or 48 percent—did not make “adequate yearly progress” this year. The failure rates range from a low of 11 percent in Wisconsin to a high of 89 percent in Florida.
The findings are far below the 82 percent failure rate that Education Secretary Arne Duncan predicted earlier this year but still indicate an alarming trend that Duncan hopes to address by granting states relief from the federal law. The law requires states to have every student performing at grade level in math and reading by 2014, which most educators agree is an impossible goal.
“Whether it’s 50 percent, 80 percent, or 100 percent of schools being incorrectly labeled as failing, one thing is clear: No Child Left Behind is broken,” Duncan said in a statement Dec. 14. “That’s why we’re moving forward with giving states flexibility from the law in exchange for reforms that protect children and drive student success.”
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State’s scores varied wildly. For example, in Georgia, 27 percent of schools did not meet targets, compared to 81 percent in Massachusetts and 16 percent in Kansas.
That’s because some states have harder tests or have high numbers of immigrant and low-income children, center officials said. It’s also because the law requires states to raise the bar each year for how many children must pass the test, and some states put off the largest increase until this year to avoid sanctions.