Friday, April 3, 2009

Education Stimulus $$$ Will Hinge on New Measures of Student Achievement

In an article by NY Times Education reporter Sam Dillon entitled "Education Secretary Says Aid Hinges on New Data", and a blog post in Education Week by Dakarai I. Aarons, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the nation’s governors on Wednesday that in exchange for billions of dollars in federal education aid provided under the economic stimulus law, he wants new information about the performance of their public schools, much of which could be embarrassing.

The data is likely to reveal that in many states, tests have been dumbed down so that students score far higher than on tests administered by the federal Department of Education.

It will also probably show that many local teacher-evaluation systems are so perfunctory that they rate 99 of every 100 teachers as excellent and that diplomas often mean so little that millions of high school graduates each year must enroll in remediation classes upon entering college.

Such information, Mr. Duncan’s letter said, “will reveal both strengths and underlying challenges.”

The data required includes the following:

¶Student math and reading scores on local tests, as well as on the National Assessment of Education Progress, a federal test that is more difficult.

¶The numbers of schools declared failing under federal law that have demonstrated student achievement gains within the last three years.

¶The numbers of students, by high school, who graduate and go on to complete at least a year’s worth of college credit.

Gathering the new information, Mr. Duncan’s aides said, is part of a strategy to shine a spotlight on school systems that are not working well and drive their improvement.

Picture: Click on graphic to see detail of the 2009 Economic Stimulus money distributed as total dollars. 

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