Reporting False Performance Data Under No Child Left Behind: Why Are We Surprised At Dishonest Behavior By The Educational Bureaucracy?

The New York Times published an editorial yesterday entitled False Data on Student Performance:

Americans often can’t find reliable information about how the schools in their state compare with schools elsewhere. The No Child Left Behind Act [“NCLB”] was supposed to change that by requiring states to file clear and accurate statistical information with the Education Department. The news so far is less than encouraging. Many states have chosen to manipulate data to provide overly optimistic appraisals of their schools’ performance.
A distressing example emerged last week in a study of graduation rates by the Education Trust, a nonpartisan foundation in Washington. For the second year in a row, the Education Trust has found that many states are cooking the books on graduation rates – using unorthodox calculation methods or ignoring students who drop out. Some states submitted no graduation data at all…
The secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, says she is concerned about accuracy. But Congress itself needs to take up this issue and force the states to use accurate methods of calculation when it reauthorizes No Child Left Behind in 2007. Until changes are made at the federal level, student performance data in the United States won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

Several thoughts:
Corporations caught filing false information to the public get publicly attacked and sued? Where is the comparable outrage for this behavior which has a much broader societal impact as it is about how well we are educating our children?
Why does the NY Times think more federal involvement in state-level educational issues is going to change behaviors? The only logical extension of the NY Times’ argument is to reach for total federal micro-management and control. But, the Soviet Union showed that model of government just plain doesn’t work. Think further about the silliness of their argument: Within the state of Rhode Island alone, there are nearly 40 school districts, some with multiple high schools. As a further example, how is Congress going to ensure my town – with its roughly 150 graduating seniors every year – files proper data? And how will the Congress define and enforce penalities if my town were not to do it properly? Sheer folly.
No, the false performance data reporting occurs because there is a fundamental structural problem in public education. NCLB may highlight problems like this false reporting but it cannot fix the real problems because school bureaucracies and teachers’ unions receive no tangible rewards from excellent performance and suffer no adverse consequences for non-performance.
The only thing that will change that dynamic in public education – which unfortunately hurts our vulnerable children the most – is the power of competition implemented via educational choice. This Milton Friedman posting explains both the structural problems of the public education monopoly and the power of education choice.

In a nutshell, here is what I think the negotiating position of the East Greenwich School Committee should be on some of the key financial terms of the contract.
Other postings include:
Background Information on the East Greenwich NEA Labor Dispute
The NEA’s Disinformation Campaign
East Greenwich Salary & Benefits Data
More Bad Faith Behavior by the NEA
The Debate About Retroactive Pay
Would You Hurt Our Children Just To Win Better Contract Terms?
The Question Remains Open & Unanswered: Are We/They Doing Right By Our Children?
Will The East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Stop Their Attempts to Legally Extort Residents?
You Have To Read This Posting To Believe It! The Delusional World of the NEA Teachers’ Union
So What Else is New? Teachers’ Union Continues Non-Productive Behaviors in East Greenwich Labor Talks
“Bargaining Rights are Civil Rights”
The NEA-Rhode Island’s Pathetic Attempts to Manipulate East Greenwich Residents
In addition to financial issues, management rights are the other big teachers’ union contract issue. “Work-to-rule” or “contract compliance” only can become an issue because of how management rights are defined in union contracts. The best reading on this subject is the recent report by The Education Partnership. It is must reading.
Other editorials and postings include:
ProJo editorial: Derailing the R.I. gravy train
ProJo editorial: RI public unions work to reduce your family’s quality of life
ProJo editorial: Breaking the taxpayer: How R.I. teachers get 12% pay hikes
Selfish Focus of Teachers Unions: Everything But What Is Good For Our Kids
Tom Coyne – RI Schools: Big Bucks Have Not Brought Good Results
The NEA: There They Go, Again!
A Response: Why Teachers’ Unions (Not Teachers!) Are Bad For Education
“A Girl From The Projects” Gets an Opportunity to Live the American Dream
Doing Right By Our Children in Public Education Requires Thinking Outside The Box
Debating Rhode Island Public Education Issues
The Cocoon in which Entitled State Employees Live
Are Teachers Fairly Compensated?
Warwick Teachers’ Union Throws Public Tantrum
Blocking More Charter Schools Means Hurting Our Children
RI Educational Establishment: Your Days of No Vigorous Public Oversight & No Accountability Are Ending
The Deep Performance Problems with American Public Education
Freedom, Hard Work & Quality Education: Making The American Dream Possible For ALL Americans
Parents or Government/Unions: Who Should Control Our Children’s Educational Decisions?
Now Here is a Good Idea
Milton Friedman on School Choice
Issuing a Call for a Higher Quality Public Debate About Education
Is Merit Pay for Teachers a ‘Crazy Idea’?

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