Alabama's new education plan aims for parity in academic achievement among students of all races. But it is causing a stir because it also sets interim goals in which some subgroups perform at a lower level on proficiency tests.
Alabama’s newly approved education plan, which will replace No Child Left Behind in the state, is under fire for setting different goals for students in math and reading tests based in part on the students' race and economic status, in an attempt to close achievement gaps.
Alabama’s Plan 2020, approved in June by the US Department of Education, follows the Bush-era precedent to divide students by subgroups on the basis of race or ethnicity to assess achievement, but goes further in setting different goals for the groups, the Tuscaloosa News first reported Sunday.
For instance, while 95 percent of third-graders, regardless of subgroup, need to pass math in 2013 under No Child Left Behind, the Alabama plan expects 91.5 percent of white students and 79 percent of black students to pass math tests in 2013.
“Isn't this discrimination? Doesn't this imply that some students are not as smart as others depending on their genetic and economic backgrounds?" asked Elois Zeanah, president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, in a written statement.