March 23rd, 2006

Is Excellence Enough?

Can a school be ‘outstanding’ and ‘in need of improvement’ at the same time? Apparently so. PS 48 is ranked one of the best elementary schools in the Bronx, NY. Among the 137 elementary schools in the borough, it ranks 12th overall and first in English language arts.

And yet, based on the No Child Left Behind ranking system prescribed by the federal government, PS 48 was listed as a school “in need of improvement” two years in a row.

PS 48 is not alone. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of schools around the US are being identified as ‘failing,’ even though their students are doing well. Defenders of NCLB say that’s because these schools are failing certain groups of children. Opponents of the law say it punishes diversity and fails to recognize individual improvement.

We take a look at the discrepancies and try to figure out if an entirely new ranking system is needed.

(Originally aired March 23, 2006)

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