Thursday, February 19, 2009

Study verifies Weingarten's take on accountability

Just a couple of days ago, EdLog reported on a Washington Post op-ed by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Her thesis was that the No Child Left Behind Act's demand for standards has been met with a state-by-state patchwork of regulations that make accurate or fair comparisons impossible.

Now a new study verifies her concern. According to the Associated Press, the Fordham Institute, in conjunction with the Kingsbury Center at the Northwest Evaluation Association, has determined that "some schools deemed to be failing in one state would get passing grades in another under the No Child Left Behind law."

The study collected the test scores of 36 elementary and middle schools, and compared them to accountability rules in 28 states:

It found the schools failed to meet yearly progress goals in states with more
rigorous standards, such as Massachusetts. But they met yearly progress goals in
states with lower standards, such as Arizona and Wisconsin. Under No Child Left
Behind, states have a patchwork of rules that vary from state to state, the
study said.

Weingarten may have an ally in Arne Duncan, the new U.S. Secretary of Education. According to the Associated Press, Duncan said, "...the notion that we have 50 different goal posts doesn't make sense. A high school diploma needs to mean something, no matter where it's from."

The Fordham Institute study, named "The Accountability Illusion," can be read here.

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