I am an otherwise liberal Democrat; I believe firmly that No Child Left Behind must stay in place to ensure we have high expectations for all; and I know this makes me somewhat of a rarity in my political party and in the world of urban education.
With that said, I was deeply disappointed in the Jan. 15 editorial ("Real Success: 'No Child' Should Help Students, Not Bend the Rules"). Using a growth model is one of the greatest things we can do to inspire and motivate those incredible teachers who are willing and able to successfully reach some of our most vulnerable children. Additionally, it values the work of a child who may be significantly behind but manages to make more than the expected growth in a year.
Imagine the third-grader who reads at a kindergarden level. Should we not praise the teacher and child if that student is on a high second-grade reading level only one year later? However, without a growth model, they are still deemed a "failing child" and a "failing teacher." Should we then be surprised further when that teacher grows frustrated and wants to later work with children who are "easier" to reach and move in a one- year period or wants to leave teaching altogether?
Should we be rewarding a school that already has in it children that are all above grade level and only maintain the children at that level?
Criticizing the hard work and genuine success of children who have been "Left Behind" by factors outside of their control -- when they are on the clear pathway to real proficiency in a reasonable time frame -- is to impose a highly damaging philosophy and shows a very limited understanding of educational pedagogy.