Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Monday, June 13, 2005

A must-read for anyone with school-age kids

Lisa Snell, director of the Reason Public Policy Institute's Education program has a great article that details, citing extensive research and hard numbers, how schools and state DoEs have become proficient in "gaming the system" in order to defraud taxpayers (and worse, the very parents of their students) and remain untouchable in their actions. If I needed any more motivation to a) put my own kids in private school or b) fight with all my might for school choice, this, a very pertinent section for me in particular, would be all it would take:
My local newspaper lists area schools that have met No Child Left Behind goals and are compliant with federal law. The article will tell you that every subgroup, from low-income children and Hispanics to special education children, is proficient in reading and in math. It will not say that in California, in order for yearly progress for each subgroup to be considered adequate, only 13 percent of the children in each group must be proficient. Imagine the difference—and how much more helpful it would be to a concerned parent trying to decide what is best for her child—if the newspaper article said, “Here is a list of schools where at least 13 percent of children in each group are proficient.”

The newspaper should also explain what it really means to be “proficient” in reading. To be considered proficient for the third grade in California, you must score at the 51st percentile in reading and the 63rd percentile in math on California’s standardized STAR test. In other words, all it really means when my school is listed as meeting “adequate yearly progress” under No Child Left Behind is that at least 13 percent of third-graders in every subgroup scored at the 51st percentile on the reading test."
Amazing. The fact that schools can get away with saying that because 13% of their students can score at the 51st percentile they show adequate yearly progress is a statement that calls into question the motivations of school administrations and teachers - they have no desire, as an end in itself, to actually educate your kids, they just want to keep those state and federal tax dollars rolling in, any way they can. This just further attests to the horrendous, yet unsurprising, unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind Act.


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