Thursday, July 27, 2006

Testing for Dummies

I really wish the Freakonomics guys would make this their issue:

Schools around the country are now being forced by the immoral "No Child Left Behind" program to judge themselves by the quality of the students they are given. The primary method of judging a school is this- compare how this year's 3rd grade students score to how last year's 3rd grade students score. Given that a school doesn't really control its population, and the result of failing evaluations under nclb is that more good students leave, you basically create a false appearance of schools getting worse year after year.

What should be measured is how much students improve from the beginning of the year to the end (pre-test, post-test). The measure of a non-selective school should not be the quality of the student body, but how well it educates the students it has. We shouldn't confuse good students with good schools. That said, measuring the quality the student body is a good criteria for choosing which neighborhood to live in, you want your child to be with students that are on their level or above, but it has nothing to do with the quality of the teachers, the curriculum, or anything that anyone can do anything about.

Here's what's happening in DC-
They switched tests, so now it looks like schools are getting worse, when really they may not have changed at all.

The next time you hear some idiot complaining about the quality of schools, make sure they aren't complaining about the quality of the students...

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