Bridgeport ISD joined approximately 100 school districts in the state this week to challenge the constitutionality of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
”Texas has the most stringent accountability system in the nation,” said Superintendent Eddie Bland. “This is an opportunity to say the federal government has overstepped their bounds … NCLB has run its course.”
Under the NCLB, districts must keep increasing the passing rates of students on standardized tests, making “adequate yearly progress” (AYP), until the passing rate becomes 100 percent.
AYP considers reading/language arts, mathematics and either graduation rate for high schools and districts or attendance rate for elementary and middle/junior high schools. If a campus, district or state fails to meet AYP for two consecutive years, it is subject to requirements such as offering supplemental education services, offering school choice and/or taking corrective actions.
A historic number of Texas districts and campuses failed to meet AYP this year. Only 28 percent of districts and 34 percent of campuses met the standards. Every district in Wise County except Chico ISD fell short of AYP.
“NCLB wants 100 percent passing,” Bland said. “There is no validity to any test that has a 100 percent passing rate.”
The board voted 5-1 to join the appeal.
Only board of trustee member Lee Snodgrass dissented.
“Students will meet the expectations you set for them,” he said. “The administration has set low standards for these kids. I find it inappropriate to join a lawsuit rather than just have our kids meet the standards. It’s time to stop blaming those outside the district.”
“We aren’t passing the buck,” Bland said. “We don’t set low standards, and I think our principals would take issue with that. I take issue with that. We don’t need a second accountability system when we already have the toughest in the nation … This is a state’s rights issue.”
Bland added that the maximum cost to joining the challenge against NCLB is $1,500 in legal fees. And the cost would go down as more districts join.
The challenge was initiated by the Texas Association of Community Schools (TACS) work with the law firm of James C. Thompson, PLLP.