According to Olson and Jacobson (2006), "schools aren't being held accountable for the subgroup performance of some 1.9 million students who fall into various racial or ethnic categories in calculations of AYP". Because funding and sanctions ride on the results of the AYP, it is sometimes in the interest of the school to mask or hide the results through creative counting practices. Reporting them with a large number of majority students can dilute the effect of the significant gap in performance, and still claim they are counted (Clarkson, 2008, p. 20). Counting every student's progress is, and should remain a goal of the NCLB Act. Another problem with tracking AYP is the NCLB's rigid and strict guidelines that conflict with the reality of America's demographics.
Great disparities exist in the racial and ethnic makeup of the school systems as well as the economic foundation of the school districts. There is an uneven distribution of minorities in the schools, and they are mostly concentrated in inner-city areas. Kane and Staiger (2003) stated that "the difference in failure rates between states is likely to be the racial composition of their schools" (cited in Smith, 2005, p. 513).
In 2004, it was reported that 57 percent of the Ohio schools had failed the critical AYP goal, due largely to the lack of progress among students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) (Smith, 2005, p. 513). The impact on minority students is twofold. First, from a very early age, tracking places low performing students on an almost inescapable academic path that leads to a "watered down curriculum that emphasizes memorization" (Futrell & Gomez, 2008, p. 75). Students such as minorities, ethnic students, and immigrants will often find themselves locked on this academic track.
Additional language, social, cultural, and economic pressures (often misdiagnosed as mental or behavioral disorders) will inevitably place many of these students in special education programs. According to De Valenzuela, Copeland, Qi, and Park (2006), "African American, Hispanic, Native American, and ELL students had a greater chance of placement in more segregated educational settings than did their peers" (p. 437).
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