News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


New test scores deserve applause, perhaps

About the only people stranded in the No Child Left Behind bureaucracy are the public.

The annual No Child Left Behind report card for Alabama schools came out this week with state administrators calling the progress over last year remarkable.

That's good, if you understand exactly what is being achieved. Schools set their own goals based on certain criteria. Thus, one school's goals might be a cakewalk for another school.

Statewide, standardized test scores are up, dropout rates are down and 88 percent of schools made progress over last year.

Testing students on all textbook information is a traditional way of measuring their progress. A student who gets 90 percent of the answers right on a test usually gets an A.

But occasionally we hear teachers say that The No Child Left Behind brainchild of the Bush administration is too narrowly focused to give children a proper education. Making sure students know generally what will be on the test becomes all encompassing.

It's good that Decatur's Somerville Road Elementary School made sufficient progress to get state officials off its back. Somerville Road is a difficult place for overall school scores to rank among the highest. The school scored by making its adequate progress goals for a second straight year.

Educators, like those at Somerville Road, are making the best of what may be a bad policy, or at least a policy that the public doesn't fully understand.

Decatur Superintendent Sam Houston put classroom learning in perspective.

"Our investment in instructional initiatives is paying off. We're not just solving the problem short term. We're investing in initiatives that are showing gains not only in student achievement but also student learning."

We wonder if an awful lot of teaching time may go into preparing and giving these tests for short-term gain.

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