Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Many states are finding creative ways to misinterpret the rules for reporting their statistics so that their school children seem to be doing wonderfully even though that often is not the case :: WaPo

Now there is a new report on how states are hiding their feeble high school graduation rates under thick glops of statistical nonsense. It is "Getting Honest About Grad Rates: How States Play the Numbers and Students Lose," by Daria Hall of the Education Trust, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that works for higher academic achievement, particularly for low-income and minority children. The report is available on the Education Trust website.

No Child Left Behind tries to encourage high schools to improve their graduation rates, but unlike its test score improvement provisions, it does not threaten much action if they don't. It turns out this is like telling all the thieves in the neighborhood that you have turned off your burglar alarm.
. . . .
States are not accustomed to having to defend their self-congratulatory statistical tricks. But the federal law has forced some of these maneuvers into the open, where curious outsiders can see what is going on.
One of my favorite things to do is hold up America and say to my college students in the UAE, look at how screwed up America can be about so many things. Implicit is: I am comfortable criticizing my own country, I can criticize my own country, I expect my own country to be the best it can be. And, think about the example I just gave you; is there a parallel in your own experience?

Here is a link to The Education Trust report "Getting Honest About Grad Rates: Too Many States Hide Behind False Data."

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