Saturday, August 18, 2007

Failing schools

State, federal guidelines too confusing
El Paso Times 08/17/2007

It has become too difficult to understand if one's child is receiving a good public-school education.

State standards are different than national standards and, guess what, even educators are confused.

Here are two El Paso questions:

How come Chapin High fell short of accountability standards, as reported by the Texas Education Agency on Aug. 1, but is not among the 37 El Paso County schools to have missed national Adequate Yearly Progress guidelines (No Child Left Behind) as reported Wednesday?

How come Socorro High is OK in Texas, but not in the nation?

And the two reports showed El Paso County schools did better in the state assessments over last year, but had more failing schools nationally than last year.

Surely somebody can explain this, but surely there are far too many people who just plain don't understand. That shouldn't be.

Parents who think they are alone in not understanding what's going on need not feel education standards are over their heads -- too intellectual for the common working stiffs. Don't worry, parents. Even those who do the teaching are confused.

El Paso school district Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia points out: "The multiple measures created some confusion. I have been a proponent for the federal and state governments to give us a common report card that looks at similar indicators."

As it is, both state and federal accountability agencies have been using the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS test). But they use different aspects of that test when making out their separate report cards that are sent to the individual school districts.

Does your child know his addition and subtraction, or not? Does your child know the name of the state's governor, or not?

State may say yes. The feds may say no.

Just as with taxing jargon, so goes confusion in education. Quite a few citizens have admitted their confusion when a taxing entity lowers a tax-rate, but it doesn't necessarily mean a person pays fewer taxes than the previous year. Now there are those -- parents and their teachers -- who are confused because their child's school may be adequate in the eyes of the state, but not in the eyes of the federal government -- and visa versa, as we have seen in some El Paso schools.

Perhaps testing measures can't be as easy as your ABCs, but it shouldn't take a genius to figure out if one's children are receiving a good education.

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