Recently an Associated Press article reported how the test scores of some two million children aren’t being counted, due to a loophole in the No Child Left Behind Act. (See ‘No Child’ loophole misses millions of scores at CNN, April 18, 2006.) The Wall Street Journal (“No Child Left Behind” April 29, 2006) editorializes on this as follows:
… Last month we reported that parents and children in failing schools nationwide aren’t being notified of their school-choice transfer and tutoring options, even though notification is a requirement under NCLB. The news that [Secretary of Education] Ms. Spellings is also letting states slide on even reporting the math and reading test scores of minorities is especially disturbing because accountability is the heart of the federal law.
NCLB makes allowances for schools that have racial groups too small to be statistically significant. But states have been abusing their freedom under the law to determine when a group is too small to count. And Washington is letting them get away with it. According to the AP, nearly two dozen states have successfully petitioned the Education Department “for exemptions to exclude larger numbers of students in racial categories.” Today about one in 14 test scores overall go uncounted. Minorities, whose test scores on average lag those of white students, are seven times as likely to have their test results ignored. That’s an odd way to enforce a law called No Child Left Behind.
Has Kansas asked for exemptions from these reporting requirements? I spoke to an official at the Kansas Department of Education, and it appears that Kansas is not asking for exemptions like the ones reported above. That’s good news.
But Kansas school officials, like those in nearly every other state, continue to paint a prettier picture than the actual reality. This article Every State Left Behind explains how state education officials report student proficiency rates far in excess of what the National Assessment of Educational Progress test reveals.
The public education establishment tells us they are willing to be held accountable. As it turns out, being held accountable to a government agency may not mean very much.
There is a simple way to hold public schools accountable to those who matter most: simply give parents meaningful school choice. Open public schools to market competition. Give parents, through vouchers, meaningful opportunities to choose schools for their children.
With all the attention paid to schools this year in Kansas government, with all the new money about to be spent, accountability is still lacking. The education establishment insists on retaining their government-sponsored monopoly on education spending. In a few years when the impact of the increased education spending in Kansas is assessed — if we are able to get an honest evaluation — we should not be surprised to find that no progress has been made.