Wednesday, August 25, 2004

You think they knew? 

Jay Matthews says that one of the by-products of all those standardized tests students have to take and the new rules for accountability is giving parents the ability to gather data on their children's schools and make comparisons to nearby districts.
I think parents like her are an important part of the effort to make schools better, and we ought to remember that they are becoming even more influential as
we hand them a whole new generation of weapons -- the results of all those achievement tests the state and federal governments are making the schools give our children.

Take as an example what Budd has done with some new testing data sitting out there in cyberspace, ready for use. She looked at two large and important Washington area school districts, Anne Arundel and Fairfax counties, which are using different textbooks in their math programs. She says she has found a remarkable discrepancy in results.
I recall discussing this by-product with former education commissioner Cheri Yecke, who said she had someone in the Dept. of Education come forward one day and say, in essence, "look at all this cool data". Cheri's answer was, how do we get it into the hands of parents. It's coming soon; the data has been delayed but when it's up there you will be able to get some good information about how schools are performing. Let a thousand websites like this one from Virginia bloom in Minnesota!