Thursday, July 10, 2008

Academic Gains in DC Schools

Good news from ground zero in education performance; there have been noticeable gains in performance among DC students in standardized math and science tests. This is an excellent story, one that brings hope that profoundly dysfunctional school systems can change.

What I find odd about this story is the angle on who should be credited with the increase. Should it be the former Chancellor, Clifford Janey, or the current Chancellor, Michelle Rhee? Interesting question, though one that ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room....President Bush. Though I question the federal government's role in education beyond that of a funding engine, it is inconceivable that a discussion of performance in schools these days does not at least tacitly acknowledge the contribution of standards and enforcement made by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.

Used to date a teacher once, and boy, did she complain about "No Child Left Behind". "It is forcing us to teach to the test" she would say. She'd say it to whomever would listen...finally, one day, I asked her if prior to NCLB she was in the habit of testing her students on material she hadn't taught. She did not find my question funny.

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