No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a bipartisan, federal education bill signed into lawon January 8, 2002. The federal government required states to establish testingperformance targets that grew incrementally. Schools had to demonstrate AdequateYearly Progress (AYP). As required, Texas established increasing standards over time.In addition to increasing standards in 2011-12, the State also abandoned the [TAKS] test used since 2002 andimplemented a very different and more rigorous test, the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of AcademicReadiness) test.Despite rising standards, Denton ISD schools have consistently exceeded state standards. In the graphs below,the blue bars represent the standards for TAKS and the red bars for STAAR. The colored lines represent theperformance levels of each student group assessed. Looking at the lines above the bars, one can see how themajority of Denton ISD students continue to improve upon prior years’ performance.(all=All Students; aa=African American; hisp=Hispanic; white=White; econ dis=Economically Disadvantaged; spec ed=Special Education; lep=Limited English) Proficient) Students are learning at higher levels than ever before, yet the accountability system leads our public to believe otherwise. Along with 72% of all Texas school districts, Denton ISD did not meet federal AYP standards. This is ample evidence that the federal accountability system is flawed. For more information on AYP in Texas, visit http://www.tea.state.tx.us/ayp/.
While raising standards, the State cut public school funding by $5.4 billion dollars.In addition to passing deep budget cuts to districts (including $17 million in cuts toDenton ISD over the past two years), the State spent $89 million in 2011-12 tooverhaul the testing system from TAKS to STAAR (as compared to $47 millionin 2002), and the state will spend a total of $468,392,617 for the State of TexasStudent Assessment contract from 2010-2015.http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/investigations/staars-price-tag-90-million-this-yearAdditionally, federal requirements come at a substantial financial cost to local tax payers. Local schooldistricts are required to set aside an amount equal to 20% of its current-year Title I, Part A entitlement($492,611) to provide direct assistance to those campuses in the School Improvement Program.The federal government requires districts to pay for the transportation costs of students exercising their right totransfer from a campus identified for school improvement to another campus not identified. In essence, we arepaying to transport students from one effective campus to another when there is no significant difference in theperformance of all students.Imagine watching the 400 meter dash at the Olympics. Runners rise in their blocksready to sprint. Suddenly, the announcer broadcasts, “All runners who fail to break theworld record will be disqualified.” Bang. Go. Sprint. As the starterlowers his pistol, the track is gradually elevated to 10 degrees. Sweatruns. Up 20. Runners press on for the world record; gold is notsufficient. At 33, legs burn. Push. Rounding the final cornernow angled at 45, the world record stands untouched.Disqualified. Every one. What’s wrong with them? None earned gold.Are they in need of more training? Like world class athletes expectedto surpass the world record with an unexpected, different [more rigorous] track,educators must overcome an unrealistic hurdle. Let us hold our press conferencesfocused on the game of the game, not on the world-class athletes.On September 6, 2012, a month after AYP results were released by the Texas EducationAgency (TEA), the agency informed districts of its intent to submit waiver requests to theUnited States Department of Education (USDE). The state recognizes NCLB “has created anobsolete system that does not adequately reflect the accomplishments of the state’s schools.”Despite this acknowledgement, Texas school districts must continue to fulfill therequirements and sanctions of NCLB. For more information on the waiver request, visithttp://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=2147508792Despite the challenges set by the federal and state government, Denton ISD will continue toprovide a world-class education to 25,000+ students we are fortunate to serve in our community. For more information on AYP in Denton ISD, visit http://www.dentonisd.org/federalprograms.