Monday, August 18, 2008

leaving information behind

No Child Left Behind was premised on the idea that by testing students and giving parents information on which school did worse or better, along with increased federal funding, market principles would make schools/education better. Think of it as vouchers-lite. Yet Utah's administrators are either incapable or unwilling to give parents this critical piece of the puzzle.
Utah won't make public the list of which schools met goals and which didn't until Sept. 30, which is more than a month after most Utah schools begin classes. That could make it difficult for parents to take advantage of options offered by the law. Schools that accept federal money for serving low-income areas but fail to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for two years in a row must send letters to parents offering to bus students to better-performing schools. But schools can't send those letters if they don't know whether they met goals.
This isn't the first time Utah has released its results after the school year had started, and it might not be the last, said Judy Park, state associate schools superintendent. In fact, it's a problem with which many states grapple.
Among nearby states, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho and Wyoming have publicly released their data. California, Colorado and Arizona have not.
States are supposed to release the results before school starts, but the results are based mostly on state tests that often aren't given until the end of the school year.
In short, schools test students at the end of the year to see how much they learned that year, but then the processing of the test results takes longer than the summer. Other states test only 120 days into the school year, during which I guess they test what students learned thus far in this grade as well as retention from last year. But that's also crazy. And keep in mind this lag time is with a mostly, if not completely multiple choice bubble sheets test. Not that anyone switches anyway...
In fact, very few students take advantage of the option to transfer.
Nationwide, only about 2 percent of eligible students chose to be bused to another school in 2006-2007, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Only 27 Utah students chose to transfer to another school under NCLB in 2006-2007, according to the Utah Office of Education, though that number might actually be higher because of confusion over a new data system, said Karl Wilson, state director of Title 1 programs.
So has NCLB had any positive impact on education at all? It has united liberals and conservatives that something needs to be done to get rid of NCLB or at the very least radically overhaul the system. I guess that's something.

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