Federal Education Law Failing, Report Argues
“Failing Our Children: How No Child Left Behind Undermines Quality and Equity in Education, and an Acountability Model that Supports School Improvement,” is available from FairTest. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)
Two years into its implementation, the federal No Child Left Behind Act “is aggravating, not solving, the real problems that cause many children to be left behind,” says a 170-page report from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest.
The report from the testing watchdog group, based in Cambridge, Mass., cites problems documented in prior reports and articles to bolster its contention that the law’s requirements for identifying schools in need of improvement are flawed and must be overhauled. In particular, it argues, the heavy reliance on standardized tests coupled with strict penalties for failing to make annual performance targets will result in a narrowing of the curriculum and intensive teaching to the test. The lack of adequate funding for schools and for the well-being of children, it says, intensifies those problems for poor and minority students, in particular.
The report proposes an alternative system of accountability that would be based on multiple measures of school and student learning, and use external interventions in schools much more sparingly.
“A Matter of Degrees: Improving Graduation Rates In Four-Year Colleges and Universities,” is available online from The Education Trust.(Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)
Only 63 percent of freshmen who enter four-year colleges in the United States and study full time graduate within six years, according to a report.
For minority students, the percentages are even lower: 47 percent for Hispanics, and 46 percent for African-Americans.
Six-year graduation rates vary widely between institutions, with some schools graduating almost 100 percent of incoming freshmen, and others graduating only 10 percent, within six years, says the report, which was commissioned by the Washington-based Education Trust.
“Black, White, and Brown: Latino School Desegregation Efforts in the Pre- and Post-Brown v. Board of Education Era,” is available online from The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.(Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has taken the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Educationof Topeka to report on Latinos’ experiences with school segregation.
Latino school segregation has only increased since that U.S. Supreme Court decision, concludes the report. However, the report also highlights court rulings that enabled Latinos to benefit from the Brown decision, which struck down states’ segregated systems of schooling for blacks and whites.
—Mary Ann Zehr
Roughly 20 percent to 30 percent of minority students in Texas are obese, which is nearly six times the national average, a recent study estimates.
The study, conducted by the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, surveyed more than 6,500 students from 30 public school districts. Data was gathered by gender, race, and grade level—4th, 8th, and 11th.
“Measuring the Prevalence of Overweight in Texas Schoolchildren” was published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Information about accessing the journal’s articles is online at www.ajph.org.
—Marianne D. Hurst
A new report shows that eight of 10 indicators of child well-being are improving nationally, corresponding with a 6-year period of economic growth and expansion of public programs.
Still, the study cautions, a wide disparity among states still exists in several critical indicators. And even though the child poverty rate is declining in nearly every state, the overall rate in America is among the highest in the developed world.
—Darcia Harris Bowman
A version of this article appeared in the June 09, 2004 edition of Education Week as Report Roundup