Another question for supporters of No Child Left Behind: how is a school supposed to show annual yearly progress in student test scores when a large number of those students change every year?
That’s the problem with one school in our overly large school district where more than one-third of the student population will change during the year. Other systems probably have schools facing an even bigger annual turnover.
Teaching in schools where the student body fluctuates is an increasing challenge for educators nationwide trying to meet the demands of the federal No Child Left Behind act, which requires student performance on standardized math and reading tests to improve each year. Although the law doesn’t require states to consider the scores of newly arrived students, those scores do count in following years. And each year’s lessons provide a foundation for the next. Plus, studies have shown that teachers in schools with high turnover are more likely to fall behind on the year’s lessons.
To add to the problems, schools with a highly mobile student population also tend to have high rates of poverty and large numbers of non-English speaking students. Both of those factors by themselves have been shown to slow instructional progress.
None of this should be taken as an excuse for not offering these kids the best educational experience possible. That is exactly what the staff at this particular school has been trying to do using all kinds of creative teaching strategies and as many additional ideas as time and money will allow.
However, as hard as the staff works to help students who arrive at school already behind the curve, they still can’t satisfy NCLB, which views their school and students as identical those in a very different community a few miles away. When it comes to education, cookie cutter laws and policies don’t cut it.