Can Schools Be Guilty of Educational Malpractice?

I woke up this morning thinking about my K-12 classmates and the students that I taught during my K-12 and higher education career. More specifically, I thought about the students that were failed by the system. This led me to reflect on a single question: Can schools be guilty of educational malpractice? Keep reading to find out.

To begin, the students that I speak of came to school every day ready to learn but were written off their teachers and administrators because of learning and behavioral disabilities. It’s ironic that the students who need the most support and attention, often end up receiving the least of it. How does this happen?

This happens when teachers spend their time working with the students who are operating on grade level in an attempt to bolster their standardized test scores. If students receive good test scores, their principal will be pleased, and they get to keep their job. In some instances, if their students score well on standardized tests, these teachers receive a merit-based pay, which is a bonus that is given to teachers for reaching certain professional milestones.

Who cares if the students who needed the most help, can coast along, receiving inflated grades to hide the fact that they are not learning? This only becomes apparent when standardized test results are released, and we find out these students are operating at a basic level.

Even that can be explained away, by telling parents and stakeholders that some students just aren’t good test takers, but they are learning, as evidenced by their excellent class grades. Real educators know that large discrepancies between two assessments, that are supposed to measure the same academic skills is a red flag.

Unfortunately, no one pays attention, and since the abolishment of NCLB (No Child Left Behind), there is no way to hold schools accountable for teaching all students. Not that I was a fan of NCLB, but I feel like ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) “threw out the baby with the bathwater.” Several provisions in NCLB made it impossible for schools to ignore certain segments of its student population.

For instance, schools had to improve show AYP (adequate yearly progress), to be considered successful. This means that the academic proficiency of the entire student population and its subgroups must show growth from year to year. The level of student growth that schools needed to show was always known way before the school year began. If they didn’t meet their targets or goals, there were stiff consequences, including school funding cuts. Unfortunately, many of these targets and goals were unattainable in the first place, but they could have been reconfigured, not abolished. Well, that’s enough of my NCLB rant.

Can schools be guilty of educational malpractice? Yes, they can be, especially if their guiding light is not the belief that all students have the right to a quality education, and teachers that will help them reach their academic potential. If principals and teachers fail to educate students properly, then yes, they are indeed guilty of educational malpractice.

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