"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, June 16, 2006

Bush vs. Bush: AYP vs. FCAT

With Jeb's voucher solution for the public schools ruled unconstituional earlier this year by the Florida Supreme Court, and with his efforts rejected to change the Florida State Constitution in order to neutralize the decision, Jeb's folks are unexpectedly left without an alternative to the public schools they planned to shut down with a voucher in every pocket. Now as the assured failure juggernaut of NCLB grinds on toward them, it is interesting to watch Bush and his lieutenants squirm. Suddenly, Jeb gives much more weight to Florida's own FCAT to detemine the quality of schools in Florida than to Big Brother's AYP numbers. Interesting:
A record number of Florida schools earned A and B grades this year, but an increasing number also failed to meet federal standards, according to data released Wednesday.

The disconnect isn’t new.

But for the first time since the state and federal grading systems began clashing four years ago, Gov. Jeb Bush said Florida’s system is a better gauge than the one that anchors the education agenda of his brother, President Bush.

Asked at a Tallahassee news conference whether parents should pay more attention to the state’s school grades than the federal report card, Bush said, “Absolutely.”

“With no disrespect to anyone in Washington, D.C.,” he said, “I believe our system is the most comprehensive system of measuring how schools are doing based on student learning, by far.”

Two hours later, Education Commissioner John Winn went a step further. He said he didn’t foresee the state planning for the takeover of hundreds of schools next year, which is one of the options prescribed for schools that continue falling short of the federal “adequate yearly progress” standard.

“We have schools that are doing very well that are closing the achievement gap and achieving at high levels and still not making AYP,” Winn said in a teleconference. “I’m going to be hard-pressed to put the federal sanctions ahead of our state accountability system.”

How bad is the disconnect between the Federal story of failure and the State sunny picture of success? According to NCLB numbers,
This year, 72 percent of Florida schools failed to make adequately yearly progress, up from 64 percent last year. More than 500 of them are high-poverty schools that failed to meet the federal standards for a fourth year in a row, which means they will be in line next year for a potentially dramatic shakeup.
The State's more sunny appraisal:
Some 2,074 Florida schools, or 75 percent statewide, earned A’s or B’s this year, up from 1,843 schools and 67 percent last year. Most dramatically, 87 percent of middle schools landed in the top tier, up from 63 percent a year ago.

This is the kind of mess the chubby brother will leave Florida citizens to deal with when he exits in January. Nonetheless, the Jeb is hopeful. Why shouldn't he be--he does not have to deal with the failure he created:
After the news conference, Bush said he believes the success of the FCAT and the school grading system will shield it from attack after he leaves office in January 2007.
Frist/Bush or Bush/Frist? Can you think of anything better for America?

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