Wednesday, April 30, 2008

California schools cheat rather than teach

Schools in California have found yet another way to game the system and avoid the accountability of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
The law says all major demographic groups – categorized by race, income, English fluency and disability status – must meet test score targets that increase over time. If one group doesn't meet the target, the entire school faces the stigma of low performance and a series of consequences.
So where's the loophole this time? It's in a single word: major. If a sub-group isn't large enough to be classified as "major," its results don't count and are deemed "insignificant".

So what do you do if, say, your school doesn't meet its NCLB requirements because your African-American students can't read? Easy! Just don't call them African-Americans anymore. Problem solved!

This is what is happening in California (and presumably other states) where schools simply go in, after the fact, and reclassify enough kids so that entire sub-groups fall off the radar. Those are kids that are falling through the cracks and being deemed insignificant.

Via Joanne Jacobs, who asks: "NCLB was designed to spot low achievement by subgroups at schools where the majority of students are doing fine. But why teach ‘em when you can disappear ‘em?"

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