Schoolchildren Will Be Basically Proficient

Writing from Miami, Florida

A few months ago I wrote how most states, when testing their schoolchildren, post results such as “80% of our state’s students are proficient in reading or math,” but when tested by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the number judged proficient falls to 30% or so. (See Every State Left Behind.) It was noted that local education officials are eager to tell parents and taxpayers that students are doing well. The NAEP test hasn’t felt such pressure.

Now a commentary in the February 27, 2006 Wall Street Journal by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Diane Ravitch tells us that under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which uses the NAEP tests — not the state tests — to measure student progress, there is pressure to water down the NAEP test so that more students test at the proficient level.

This movement to weaken the standards of what has to this point been an objective, nation-wide measure of student progress will let politicians at the federal level claim that students are doing better, just as politicians at the state and local level do with the dumbed-down state tests.

Politicians, education bureaucrats, and teachers unions will claim victory, citing “proof” that increased funding for schools has been successful in increasing student achievement. But with the standard of proficient slipping to what has been until now called basic, will the students even be able to understand how they’ve been harmed?

This is more evidence of why we need to take control of education away from the government.


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