Labor Day is almost here and the annual rituals of school opening have begun. Unfortunately, one of those rituals involves receiving a notification letter from their school district regarding something called “program improvement”.
Parents from over 3,000 schools (900+ newly designated schools this year) will be receiving “program improvement” letters. So what does this mean exactly? Well, under the federal government’s definition set by No Child Left Behind, if a school is not meeting a specified target of proficiency, a school is considered to be in “program improvement”. By 2014, all Title I schools will be designated as being in “program improvement” since the proficiency target will be 100%.
A closer look at the makeup of the 3000+ “program improvement” schools using California’s Academic Performance Index (API) reveals something strange. California has set “800” as the target for a successful school. Over 500 schools designated as being in “program improvement” had an API score of 800 or higher. Clearly, the public and parents is confused by these conflicting messages. It is time to create a consistent accountability measurement system that sends one message to the community.