Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Test scores improve, No Child Left Behind praised?

Education: Public education still stinks, but it doesn't stink as bad is one way of looking at it.

"WASHINGTON - Many urban school systems improved in math and reading and narrowed achievement gaps between whites and ethnic groups in the 2003-2004 school year, according to an educational group's analysis released Monday. Despite improved results on tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act, however, scores for big metropolitan school districts continue to lag behind national and state performance averages. "We still have a long way to go," said Michael Casserly, the director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an alliance of 65 metropolitan school systems with a total of 7.3 million students. Several cities showed marked improvements. "...Philadelphia, for example, nearly tripled the number of schools that met yearly progress requirements last year. A total of 160 made that grade, compared with 58 a year earlier. However, 50 of those schools made the goal last year because the state changed its criteria from the 2002-2003 school year to the 2003-2004 year. Paul Vallas, the system's superintendent, credited President Bush's education law with spurring Philadelphia's public schools to standardize their curricula and set clear goals. "The accountability that is a part of the No Child Left Behind Act has certainly pressured districts across the country to invest more of their time and effort in instruction," Vallas said. Among Philadelphia's innovations are benchmark tests every six weeks and a doubling of classroom time devoted to math and literacy, he said. Broward County, Fla., which includes Fort Lauderdale, and Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, did well, scoring above Florida's state average in reading and math in at least half the grades tested."

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