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NCLB Outrages

Tired of the Expanding School Evaluation Industry,

"...tired of the expanding school evaluation industry, educational systems that have become a slave to standardized testing and the continued pressure placed on educators and students to focus more on scores than real quality learning."

Please, spare me another list of public school ratings.

I honestly don't want to see any new performance scales categorizing individual schools which, in turn, lead to more evaluations of teachers, principals and entire districts.

Accountability? Yes, I am definitely for that.

But I've grown tired of the expanding school evaluation industry, educational systems that have become a slave to standardized testing and the continued pressure placed on educators and students to focus more on scores than real quality learning.

I'm sick of politicians who don't give a hoot about public education but are always vowing to "fix" it. And I'm weary of stale, meaningless slogans like "Leave no child behind."

This week Texas schools got yet another "report card" from the Texas Education Agency -- this one based on new federal guidelines -- showing that 8 percent of the districts and 12.9 percent of individual schools failed the latest test.

Frankly, the only report cards I want to see are those that my son brings home or those from other children who proudly want to show me the progress they are making in their classes.

But no-o-o! Everyone who gets elected to a state or federal office these days does so on the promise that he or she will improve education, and to prove that they are really working at it ... well, they come up with another test.

This most recent report, called the AYP (or Adequate Yearly Progress), is part of the new Leave No Child Behind Act.

Many schools in our area, especially high schools, failed to make the grade not because of academic deficiencies, but because of absenteeism on the day the state assessment test was given.

In Fort Worth, for example, 28 secondary schools were rated as "needs improvement" because they didn't have the required 95 percent participation on the tests.

Arlington had eight schools (including five high schools) that need improvement; Dallas, 26; Birdville, six; Denton, four; Hurst-Euless-Bedford, three; Crowley, three; Everman, two; and Grapevine-Colleyville, three.

If any school is rated "needs improvement" two years in a row, then parents can enroll their children in different schools.

All of this is supposed to be raising the standards and the achievement level in public schools.

What this is really doing is adding to the already heavy burden of educators who feel more betrayed by politicians every day.

At a time when more is being asked of public education, we're seeing deeper budget cuts, a reduction in campus personnel, an increase in class sizes and elimination of planning periods that teachers use to prepare for the classroom.

We have begun to add labels, and in some cases stigmas, to individual schools and districts.

Instead of coming up with ways to attract more qualified teachers and retain them, we are creating ways to run them away.

In Texas, where the politicians have failed for the last 30 years to come up with adequate school funding, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House have found time and money to continue having special legislative sessions to deal with the partisan issue of redistricting.

We know we need a special session on public school finance, but that has taken a back seat to politics.

Somehow our great leaders never find the wherewithal to address this critical issue, but so be it. We know they really do care about education.

After all, they did come up with a new test.

— Boy Ray Sanders, Columnist
School ratings lists become test of patience
Forth Worth Star-Telegram


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