Scores reported like Cinderella's stepsisters: Cram until slipper fits
Great news: Florida's school kids are doing better this year.
I'm not privy to the new numbers, which will be announced within days, but I can guarantee some impressive improvement.
We've taken a licking the past couple of years, trounced by the national measuring stick of No Child Left Behind. But we've got things turned around now. You'll see.
The No Child Left Behind law tracks progress in reading and math, paying special attention to the ability of schools to educate students who are poor, from minority groups, disabled and speak English as a second language.
Simple matter of juggling the books
By the law's standards, 82 percent of Florida's public schools were flunking two years ago, and they did only marginally better last year, when 77 percent of the state's public schools fell short.
But the new numbers, I predict, will show a change for the better.
How did we do it?
A flood of new teachers? An unparalleled commitment to education by the state legislature? A realization that the class-size amendment needs to be embraced, not undermined?
Please, let's be serious.
We did it the most efficient way possible: By fixing the numbers. By figuring out a clever way to winnow out underachievers. By... well... leaving some children behind.
Florida got permission not to count students' test scores if those students were part of a group that is less than 15 percent of a school's population.
This means many specifically tracked by No Child Left Behind — poor, minority, disabled and non-English-speaking — would fall off the radar.
It's a brilliant plan that doesn't cost money and yet allows us to feel concerned, connected and heading the right direction.
The only problem, as I see it, is that we should be too squeamish to have our results listed as part of No Child Left Behind, because it'll just lead to some wisenheimers to point out the obvious.
We need to celebrate our progress in education with a name that doesn't readily point out the flaw in the calculations.
So maybe the next step to opting out of No Child Left Behind would be to allow the program to have its own name in Florida. Here are my suggestions:
• No Child Left Behind for Good
This gives hope to those who aren't being counted — if they become wealthy, able-bodied or part of minority group that grows too large to be statistically ignored, their test scores will matter, too.
• No Child Left Behind at the Bus Stop
What good is education without transportation? Maybe it's time to set a simpler, more achievable goal.
• No Child Left Behind*
The subtle addition of an asterisk would allow the kind of small-print disclaimer frequently seen in prescription medicine. The small print can explain, "Side effects may in fact lead to children being left behind, budget cramping and loose record keeping. Please consult your school board member to determine if standardized testing is right for you."
• Surprisingly Few Children Left Behind
Considering we're at war. Let's all stand for the pledge.
• Pray for the Children Left Behind
A faith-based plan for school improvement.
• Every Child Counts, but Not Every Child Is Counted
Maybe a little too accurate for the purposes of a political slogan.
Palm Beach Post
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