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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teachers union: Newsweek rankings okay?



The National Education Association issued an interesting statement yesterday slamming the school rating system used by No Child Left Behind, and using two Hillsborough schools as examples. Under No Child - which looks at how well students do on their state’s standardized test, in this case the FCAT; and how well different subgroups do, including poor kids, minority kids and disabled kids - both Hillsborough High and King High are deemed in need of progress.

So how can it be, the NEA statement implies, that both schools are on Newsweek’s list of the 100 best high schools in the country? The NEA statement goes on to say “Newsweek’s evaluation is based on those schools doing the best job of preparing students for advanced academic work and college students.” It notes that Newsweek looks at how many students are taking AP and IB classes - which is true.

But the NEA fails to mention that under the Newsweek system, the number of AP and IB test-takers at each school is divided by the number of graduating seniors. In other words, schools with poor graduation rates are rewarded with higher rankings. Hillsborough High had a graduation rate of 71 percent in 2005, and while 69 percent of its white ninth- and tenth-graders were reading on grade level last year, only 16 percent of its black and 23 percent of its Hispanic students were. The corresponding numbers at King: 78, 64, 20 and 29.

Education experts of all stripes find flaws in No Child. But does it make sense for the country’s biggest teachers union to use an even more flawed ranking system to make a point?

For a study in contrasts, read the union's release (Download NEArelease.doc). Then check out our story from earlier this year, when the Hillsborough student newspaper was censored from publishing the dismal No Child results.

Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:18am]


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