Friday, January 09, 2009

Bush Is Right!

Sometimes President Bush is right- although as his administration thankfully draws to a close, let us remember that he was virtually always "right" and rarely correct.

But when Bush spoke at an elementary school yesterday in Philadelphia, he was accurate (though not exactly as he implies) when he boasted that the No Child Left Behind Act "forever changed America's school systems."

Here is one example, as The News Blog of The Council of Higher Education reported on February 14, 2008:

A recent study of the impact of Texas’ public-school accountability system, which served as a model for the federal No Child Left Behind Act, found that it directly contributed to lower graduation rates in the large urban districts examined by creating incentives for schools to welcome the early departure of academically troubled students.

The study, by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin, found that the loss of growing numbers of students actually led to improvements in how public schools were rated by the state. That’s because most of the students who left schools were low-achieving — and a disproportionate share were black or Hispanic, or spoke English as a second language — which meant that their departure led to an increase in the schools’ average test scores and created the appearance that the school was closing the test-score gap between white and minority students.

As school personnel became increasingly focused on the potential positive or negative impact students would have on their institutions’ ratings, they took steps, such as holding back students, which helped raise test scores but also increased the likelihood the affected students would drop out, the study found.

The director of the Center for Education at Rice concluded "high stakes, test-based accountability" (the linchpin of the NCLB concept) "leads to avoidable losses of students." But, presumably, good test scores, always a greater priority for Governor Bush of Texas and President Bush of the United States.

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