virginia's controversial race-based achievement goals

Whaaaaat. As part of Virginia's waiver to opt out of mandates set out in the No Child Left Behind law, the state's board of education has created a controversial new set of performance goals with significant disparities between subgroups -- higher for white and Asian kids than for blacks, Latinos and students with disabilities: Firestorm Erupts Over Virginia's Education Goals.

Based on students' test scores in reading and math, the board of education proposed new passing rates. In math, the new acceptable passing rate is 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities.

Understandably, the plan has drawn controversy, particularly from the state legislature's black caucus:

They want the state Board of Education to reconsider the rates broken down along racial lines. When they were introduced earlier this year, opponents called the rates narrow minded. The Board revisited the plan, designed to help close the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students. Some of changes are controversial.

"When you start with a bad idea, it's really difficult to turn it into a good one," says Calhoun.

The math target rates are called Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) and were created after the state applied for a flexibility waiver from the U.S. Department of Education's No Child Left Behind law. That law requires 100 percent of students pass a more rigorous math SOL test by 2014.

Virginia education officials came up with what they say were more practical guidelines while still meeting the federal mandate.
More here: Criticism mounts over Va. plan to close achievement gap.

I don't claim to know a lot about education policy, but this seems like a terribly misguided plan. I have to agree with critics who say that Virginia is effectively institutionalizing lower expectations minority and disabled kids -- not to mention placing the burden of achievement on Asian and white kids. Am I wrong?

The Florida State Board of Education recently passed a similar race-based plan: Florida Passes Plan For Racially-Based Academic Goals.

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