Suburban Schools Run Afoul of NCLB

by Robert Pondiscio
October 20th, 2008

It’s been easy to shrug one’s shoulders and say that schools in trouble under NCLB deserve to be in trouble.  But when schools in well-regarded districts like Arlington, Virginia’s start finding themsleves in trouble, eyebrows will surely be raised.  The Washington Post reports the Hoffman-Boston Elementary School, where black students missed benchmarks this year, has become the first school in Northern Virginia forced to restructure because of lagging tests scores.  

What’s challenging is they are under a microscope, but they aren’t terribly different than other schools,” Mark Johnston, assistant superintendent of instruction in Arlington, said of the small school near the Pentagon. “I think there are reasons why schools don’t make targets, and it’s easy when those reasons are clear and evident. It’s not easy when they’re not.”

Expect to see more schools in unexpected places run into trouble.  “It’s not just going to be a problem of the inner city. It’s going to be a problem of many school districts,” Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, tells the Post. “This will come as a surprise to a number of school officials and to the public.”


  1. The person to read on the subject of suburban schools is Richard Elmore:

    What (So-Called) Low-Performing Schools Can Teach (So-Called) High-Performing Schools (Journal of Staff Development, v27 n2 p43-45 Spr 2006) and Harvard Education Letter September/October 2005

    A Plea for Strong Practice (Educational Leadership November 2003)

    Also: anything by William Sanders or Ted Hershberg on the subject of “slide and glide” schools.

    Comment by Catherine Johnson — October 22, 2008 @ 7:49 am

  2. I am in touch with parents across the country who tell me that the story line in their districts, when minority students fail, is, “Our schools are great except for the black kids.”

    Two years ago I attended a board meeting in my own district at which the assistant superintendent for curriculum made the same claim, minus the reference to race. We were told that the reason our 8th grade scores were so low was that:

    a) a teacher had gone on leave and the leave replacement had been ineffective
    b) the 8th grade state tests are unnecessarily difficult as shown by the fact that students’ scores “bounce back” on Regents exams in high school (the board president personally assured us this had been the case for his own children
    c) low-scoring students had moved to town and brought down scores

    The third claim was a mathematical impossibility given the number of new students who had moved to town.

    Comment by Catherine Johnson — October 22, 2008 @ 8:02 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

While the Core Knowledge Foundation wants to hear from readers of this blog, it reserves the right to not post comments online and to edit them for content and appropriateness.