Florida not alone in setting varied academic outcomes
Florida has come under a harsh glare of negative attention for new, race-based academic goals adopted a week ago. It's not the only state to change its approach on setting performance outcomes, though.
Education Week reports that most of the states receiving NCLB waivers from the Obama administration have headed in the direction of establishing "annual measurable objectives" -- the replacement for adequate yearly progress -- that differ by subgroup. And U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has signaled that he's good with that, so long as the states make progress on shrinking the achievement gap.
"The fact is, many educators didn't take NCLB seriously because it assumed all children start from the same place and learn at the same rate. That's just not reality," Duncan said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington earlier this month.
"Personally, I am less concerned about performance targets and goals," he said, "than I am about getting results — and at the end of the day, the result that matters most is whether kids are learning and gaps are narrowing."
President Obama has said that setting different goals for different groups did bother him. He also has acknowledged that meeting the NCLB goal of 100 percent proficiency for all students by 2014 wasn't realistic.
"The problem that you had was, because it was underresourced," he told NBC recently, "and because some kids were coming into school, a lot of minority kids were coming into school, already behind, the schools were not going to be meeting these standards, weren't even coming close to meeting these standards."