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November 06, 2009

Education in the News This Week

Lowering Standards to Skirt Sanctions
According to a new federal study published this week, 15 states lowered their academic proficiency guidelines to stay ahead of the penalties under No Child Left Behind. "Under the No Child law, signed in 2002, all schools must bring 100 percent of students to the proficient level on states’ reading and math tests by 2014, and schools that fall short of rising annual targets face sanctions," writes New York Times reporter Sam Dillon. "Facing this challenge, the study found that some states had been redefining proficiency down, allowing a lower score on a state test to qualify as proficient." 48 states are now working cooperatively to establish a common core of academic standards, though it may be a long time before we can reach nationwide agreement on what curriculum constitutes proficiency.

Reforming Schools With Involved Parents
Under a new plan unveiled by the superintendent on Tuesday, Los Angeles Unified School District could face major reforms triggered by the parents of children attending any of their low-performing schools. "Ben Austin, [executive director of the Parent Revolution], has lobbied for the widest possible version of parent participation because, he said, improving a school can consume several years," reports Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times. "The parent of a young child should have the right to set in motion changes to that child's future middle school."

Charter School Success Stories
From an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal:

Opponents of school choice are running out of excuses as evidence continues to roll in about the positive impact of charter schools. Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby recently found that poor urban children who attend a charter school from kindergarten through 8th grade can close the learning gap with affluent suburban kids by 86% in reading and 66% in math. And now Marcus Winters, who follows education for the Manhattan Institute, has released a paper showing that even students who don't attend a charter school benefit academically when their public school is exposed to charter competition.

Are you considering your local charter school? You may want to keep these facts and figures in mind when researching your child's educational options.

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