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

Monday, June 11, 2007

More Spellings Lies, More Reality Checks

Jerry Bracey has a post up at Huffington that once again beats back the new flare up of old lies from Spellings in her Washington Post op-ed. A clip from Bracey:

. . . .First, Spellings referred to the "tough NAEP standards." To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that any administration official has used any modifier in front of "NAEP standards." Let's hope it's a first step towards saying "unrealistically tough NAEP standards" or "outrageously tough NAEP standards." That's what they are as indicated in my blog "A test everyone will fail" last month.

Second, she wrote, "According to NAEP, more reading progress was made by 9-year-olds from 1999 to 2004 than in the previous 28 years combined." In her many, many previous repetitions of this mantra, she had always said "In the last five years," implying a more current time frame than 1999-2004. As I have noted before, NCLB became law only in 2002. All of the gain could have happened on Clinton's watch. We can't tell -- these are NAEP trend data only farmed every so often. No data were gathered in 2000, 2001, 2002 or 2003. The implementation of NCLB during the 2002-2003 school year can charitably be described as "chaotic." The 2004 NAEP data were gathered in February. That means that NCLB only had the fall of 2003 to work its miracles.

But, after these small signs of candor, Spellings loped off to double-think land. Her article announced her opposition to national standards. Her first argument was that "[National Standards] goes against more than two centuries of American educational tradition. Under the Constitution, states and localities have the primary leadership role in public education. They design the curriculum and pay 90 percent of the bills. Neighborhood schools deserve neighborhood leadership, not dictates from bureaucrats thousands of miles away."

It always makes me a bit dizzy when a bureaucrat in Washington rails against bureaucrats in Washington. And this from an architect of and Chief Flagellator for the largest federal intrusion into this state and local function in the nation's history. Takes one's breath away.

She also revealed a new dictate from The Decider: "The president's plan to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act calls on states to post their scores side-by-side with the NAEP results." This is a great way to destroy NAEP. NAEP's integrity rests largely on the fact that people don't pay much attention to it. Attach high-stakes to it and it will lose whatever utility and validity it has. . . .

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