More Wisconsin schools failed to meet this year's tougher standards under the No Child Left Behind Act . "People need to know that these are not lists of failing schools," says Deputy state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Evers. "This is just a federal accountability program that helps us to identify, and prioritize resources."
But not everyone is so sanguine about the federal program. Outgoing Madison superintendent Art Rainwater calls the federal law "an abomination." A total of 156 schools and four districts — Madison, Milwakee , Racine and Beloit — failed to make adequate yearly progress on No Child Left Behind, which requires that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. Rainwater doesn't mince words: "when you realize how the measurements are done, this law was set up to make our public schools in America failures." The number of Wisconsin schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress was up from 95 last year.
"The thing that I think need to be continually put in front of us is this is all based on one standardized test, taken once a year," says DPI's Evers . But Madison's Rainwater says administering the tests to students for whom English is not the primary language is problematic. "That we have to sit down children who do not speak English, and force them to take a test in English, and force them to take a test in English, and then hold them accountable, and hold schools and hold districts accountable for their performance is unfair to them, and it is unfair to our public schools in America."
The Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Beloit districts have a significant percentage of students who speak English as a second language. This was the first year the entire Madison district failed to make adequate yearly progress.