No Child Left Behind? Are You Sure?
Ohanian Comment: This issue is more complicated than indicated here. I agree that there is probably plenty of manipulation not in the best interest of children, but this indignation against NCLB stirred up by the Associated Press revelations oversimplifies the issue of cohort size. There's a reason for not reporting each and every student. You don't want students to be identifiable because of small cohort size.
By Starita Smith
Progressive Media Project
No Child Left Behind is doing the opposite of what the name promises. And the Bush administration should be held accountable for its failure.
The test scores of almost 2 million students have been ignored because of a loophole in the No Child Left Behind Act, according to a recent investigation by The Associated Press.
This law requires two levels of standardized test score reporting. One is an aggregate of all student scores, and the other is broken down into categories by race, poverty and ability to speak English (for students who learned English as a second language).
If a school cannot show satisfactory scores in reading and math for students in every category among those who are enrolled, it is deemed to have failed -- and may face federal penalties.
In its investigation, the AP found that many states are not counting the results for students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups.
"Schools are allowed to exclude math and reading scores when a racial group is too small to be statistically significant, and when privacy of students could be jeopardized," the AP explains. "But states have also been excluding scores to reduce their chances of being labeled a failing school and facing federal penalties, according to education experts who study the law."
This is disturbing.
The goal of No Child Left Behind is supposed to be the inclusion of every student, and there is agreement that the students most likely to be on the low side of the achievement gap are students of color, poor kids and those who come to school with English as their second language.
We need to know how these students are doing if we are ever going to help them get a better education.
But Texas reports no scores for all its 65,000 Asian students and none for its American Indian students. It has dropped 257,000 students from the second level of No Child Left Behind reporting. In California, that number is 400,000 students.
The United States is the wealthiest nation on Earth and should be able to provide better for all our students.
Hiding test results doesn't get it done.
In the know How's your school doing?
For NCLB exclusions by state, or to see an individual campus's exclusion rate, go to http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/fronts/NCLB?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME
Starita Smith is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of North Texas. She wrote this for the Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Fort Worth Star Telegram
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES