No White Child Left Behind

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An Associated Press study has revealed a bit (well, a lot) of skullduggery in the reporting of No Child Left Behind test scores. Under NCLB guidelines, schools with small numbers of a certain ethnicity—white kids in Camden, NJ, but black, Asian, and Hispanic kids everywhere else—aren't required to report those kids' test scores. Here's your ironic pull quote:

Bush's home state of Texas, once cited as a model for the federal law, excludes scores for two entire groups. No test scores from Texas' 65,000 Asian students or from several thousand American Indian students are broken out by race. The same is true in Arkansas.

The problem has probably gone unnoticed in no small part because the president only visits schools with large numbers of adorable black children.

Lisa Snell's comprehensive critique of NCLB appeared in the October 2004 issue of Reason.

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  1. Fascinating. My older son goes to a public elementary school in which Asians make up the second largest ethnic group, and not that far behind whites. (“Asians,” of course, incorporating Vietnamese, Pakistanis, Indians, and Koreans into one large and completely illogical class.) Nice to know they don’t count. The school is facing an NCLB problem in that our test scores are so high there’s no place left to improve. I guess they could all be perfect, then we’d be audited for cheating.

  2. NCLB is a joke. You libers should be well aware of that. It was doomed from the get-go and was just another unfunded mandate in that he Feds only pony up about 6% of the public ed costs in the first place – and that’s mostly for lunch and breakfast programs and brick and mortar issues. If the feds want standards they should pay for them.

    JMJ

  3. One consequence is that educators are creating a false picture of academic progress.

    When the American pedagogue became a professional, and began to acquire a huge armamentarium of technic, the trade of teaching declined, for only inferior men were willing to undergo a long training in obvious balderdash.

  4. If I understand the article correctly, NCLB has standards for the overall student body and standards for each ethnic group. If a particular ethnic group is represented by only a handful of students, the school is excused from meeting any particular standard for that ethnic group. But I think those students are still counted in satisfying the overall success of the school.

    When the AP report says that the minority students are “left out,” it means that they are not separately reported, not that the scores are completely excluded.

    The article is extremely deceptive and poorly written.

  5. I’m confused. If fed money is only 6%, why would schools bother to comply? With the costs of compliance being assumed to be high, why not just write off the 6%?

  6. Ditto what FXKLM said; this article is nonsense.

    States are helping schools get around that second requirement by using the race loophole, allowing them to ignore scores of racial groups that are too small to be statistically significant.

    Let me use my PhD in mathematics to translate that into layman’s terms:

    States are helping schools get around that second requirement by allowing them to ignore scores of racial groups when those scores are completely meaningless.

    Heavens to Betsy, bureaucrats aren’t being required to engage in provably useless number-crunching? And this is somehow bad? Sorry, I thought I was reading a libertarian site.

  7. Ditto what FXKLM said; this article is nonsense.

    States are helping schools get around that second requirement by using the race loophole, allowing them to ignore scores of racial groups that are too small to be statistically significant.

    Let me use my PhD in mathematics to translate that into layman’s terms:

    States are helping schools get around that second requirement by allowing them to ignore scores of racial groups when those scores are completely meaningless.

    Heavens to Betsy, bureaucrats aren’t being required to engage in provably useless number-crunching? And this is somehow bad? Sorry, I thought I was reading a libertarian site.

  8. We should also think about the privacy implications if schools were to publicly report the scores of tiny racial minorities. It’s clearly improper for the school to publish test scores for individual students. Imagine there’s a school with one black kid. Do you really want that school to publish the average test scores for its black population?

    If you have three or four students of a particular race, the problem isn’t quite as bad, but you can still infer quite a bit about a particular student’s scores simply from the published data. I would be uncomfortable with that.

  9. Jason,

    The 6% figure is a national average. In the states with the most need of federal assistance we have the students with the most need of academic assistance. So they worry more. States like Texas and Arkansas are famous for their poor education systems, so they have the greatest incentive to fudge numbers or take advantage of loopholes. In fact – the more libertarian the state, like California, or the more conservative the state, like Texas, the worse the schools. Always.

    JMJ

    JMJ

  10. JMJ:

    I looked at this survey: http://cnn.netscape.cnn.com/news/package.jsp?name=fte/smartstates/smartstates

    By its methodology, Texas ranks 24th out of 50. The top-ranked state is Vermont, which I seem to recall has something of a libertarian tradition going.

    I think the word “always” does not mean what you think it means.

  11. “In fact – the more libertarian the state, like California,…”

    What paralell universe do you live in? I actually live in CA and don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

  12. Please. Let me guess what “standards” Texas was using for that! As for Vermont – it may seem “libertarian,” but the state makes damned sure the kids get a good PUBLIC education.

    And yes, Bob, California is a libertarian nightmare. Shall I explain?

    JMJ

  13. Jersey: Insane or Internet Troll?

    You decide!

  14. Jersey: Insane or Internet Troll?

    I would say devout statist with troll-like tendencies.

  15. Slightly OT:

    Is there some kind of Libertarian index of states from most libertarian to least libertarian?

  16. devout statist

    Fundamentalist statist?

  17. It’s still bad. Schools with a lot of diversity, lots of subpopulations just over the limit, are nearly bound to fail. (I mean you, central and north Orange County.) Schools with homogeneous student populations get the strong law of large numbers working for them. This was all part of the design. For those who haven’t noticed, NCLB is yet another full employment project.

  18. From the article:
    Evans said it works like this: An Oregon school has to have seven or more students of a specific ethnicity for them to be counted.

    So seven kids from Gallifrey means that Time Lords need to be tracked seperately, and just two Doctor Who class students fail the whole school. And someone David Weigel thinks the scandal is what, that a school with 6 kids from Gallifrey can pass even if two students are bad? What?

  19. JMJ: You might as well explain.

  20. Although I realize the futility of asking JMJ for facts, how exactly is California a libertarian nightmare?

  21. Mister McJones is a disgrace to the great state of New Jersey.

    I know more about education mouldering in my grave than he and all the employees of the New Jersey and Federal Departments of Education know.

    Harumph!

  22. JMJ-

    and was just another unfunded mandate in that he Feds only pony up about 6% of the public ed costs in the first place – and that’s mostly for lunch and breakfast programs and brick and mortar issues. If the feds want standards they should pay for them.

    Then again, it’s only 6%, so surely the schools could decide it’s better to not take that tiny bit of money(avoiding all those ‘unfunded’ mandates), and just tell the Feds to piss off!

    But, I guess it’s like the old punchline, “We’ve already established that you’re a whore- now we’re negotiating the price.”

    It seems that 6% is an acceptable price for the “educational establishment”…

  23. Maybe he meant it was a nightmare for libertarians, not as a product of libertarianism.

    With that said, goodbye thread.

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