June 12, 2003

Education and testing news roundup from across the nation

I'm swamped again today, so I've decided to combine a few stories into one posting.

In Washington DC, the battle for vouchers has begun. Two proposals have been submitted to allocate federal funds for DC students trapped in poor schools, but DC's congressional representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, vows to fight any voucher program.

In Florida, educators are "concerned" about the ease with which a student who failed the FCAT was able to obtain a diploma. The student in question, Attica Hadju, earned "more than 800 out of 1,600 points on the SAT", and some felt this should have qualified him for a diploma, despite his inability to pass the FCAT's reading portion. Given the description, I'd say his combined score was less than 900 (possibly less than 850), which is well below the national average (which hovers around 1000).

Baltimore's schoolchildren continue to show gains on standardized exams. These results make Baltimore one of the few large cities to show an increase in sustained five-year increase in scores. Low-performing schools had been targeted and changes implemented, including more training for teachers and a longer school day.

A new study from the National Institute for Early Education Research and Rutgers University (NJ) suggests that phonics are essential for reading instruction. Programs which used systematic phonics instruction were significantly better at teaching children to read than programs with less-systematic phonics instruction.

Can a government-based desegregation program be a success? Apparently so. Under a "voluntary integration" plan that has been in place for the last 15 years, students in Lynn (MA) are guaranteed spots in their neighborhood schools and may only transfer to other schools if the "racial imbalance" at either school is not increased. According to the Boston Globe, this has resulted in a decrease in racial tensions and "white flight", and a corresponding increase in school attendance and standardized test scores. A group of plaintiffs, however, continue to allege that the program is unconstitutional.

Posted by kswygert at June 12, 2003 03:39 PM