Goals met, but program still flawed

Published 3:05 am Wednesday, August 6, 2008

By Staff
Brewton and East Brewton schools have much to celebrate on this first day of the school year.
All of Brewton's schools and W.S. Neal Elementary and High schools met their required state standards, and W.S. Neal Middle School missed just one goal in the schools' quest to meet adequate yearly progress standards set by the state department of education.
That achievement speaks well of the administration, teachers and students who work so hard throughout the year to meet their academic goals.
W.S. Neal High School, in particular, met its state standards for the first time in two years after seeing its graduation rate rise this past year.
That's a great achievement for the school.
While we're proud of our students and teachers for reaching their goals, we're afraid the goals are going to be too high for anyone to reach as standards become more stringent in coming years.
The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act which inspired the state's standards is quite literal - by 2014, no child should fail the tests on which the standards are based.
That's an ideal goal, but it's not exactly a practical one when you consider how varied resources are across the state, not to mention across the nation.
And each state has set different standards - so what passes for proficiency in Alabama, which was first to set strict standards, may be far more stringent than what passes for proficiency in another state.
What states may be forced to do is keep moving the finish line so that schools can reach their goals without penalty. Is that really benefitting students or teachers - or the community as a whole?
No Child Left Behind was up for renewal last year - and Congress could have made some worthwhile changes to the program, but no one wanted to touch a political hot potato so close to a presidential election year.
We're proud of our students and teachers, who strive every year to meet any goals they are given, even if the standards we use to measure them are unfair.