On Education Gadfly, Justin Torres analyzes how journalists cover testing, standards and the No Child Left Behind Act. Badly, for the most part.
This summer, it is widely expected, thousands of schools will be labeled “in need of improvement” when their 2004 state test results roll in. These schools will likely represent a cross-section of American K-12 education —urban schools, yes, but also well-heeled suburban schools, rural districts, and everybody in between.
So it is that in the past few weeks, schools and districts — abetted by members of the media who may be constitutionally anti-testing but mostly crave a good story — have begun to work feverishly to distract the public from the funnel clouds on the horizon. The plan, clearly, is to discredit the coming reports by launching a preemptive attack on the foundations and procedures of the law itself—and just maybe land a blow or two on the Bush administration in the process.
However, this New York Times story on testing for special education students does a good job of explaining the trade-offs: Parents want the failures of special ed highlighted; schools don’t want to be blamed for failing to educate students with disabilities that make it hard for them to learn. States are playing with the rules to get more schools off the hook for special ed results.