Monday, July 11, 2005

NCLB News: Miami Study Shows Disappointing Results

In Broward County, Florida, a number of students took advantage of their right to transfer from underperforming schools to those campuses that have been earning higher marks under protocols established by the No Child Left Behind Act. A study of these students' performance has shown disappointing results: (emphasis mine)

The No Child Left Behind Act did not produce any significant test score gains for the 850 Broward students who used the federal law to attend a higher-performing school, according to a school district study.

The study compared FCAT [Ed's Note: Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Test, web site here] performance of the students who transferred with that of students who remained at their home schools. The 2004-05 school year was the first in which students used the federal choice plan.

* There was no difference in the percentage of students who improved or declined on the test. In some grades, the transfer students improved more; in others, the students who stayed behind did slightly better.

* The transfer students were very similar racially and academically to the students they left behind. Some educators had speculated that the most motivated parents -- and the top students -- would opt for choice, thus further handicapping their already struggling home schools.

* Attendance for the two groups was the same.

Cary Sutton, director of research services, stressed that the comparison was only for one year, and it's too early to tell if the No Child Left Behind choice plan is a success. A follow-up study in three or four years will give more insight into the program's impact.
I think that one must be careful reading too much into this type of MSM article, as there are many "unknowns" that can affect the conclusions drawn from the research. For example, Ms. Sutton correctly points out that the study was for only one year. The statistical sample is also rather small. According to the article, some 60,000 students at 64 schools were eligible for transfer, but less than 2% of students exercised their right to do so.

It would be great to take a look at
the actual study itself, but the link at the Broward County Public Schools web site was broken as of this writing.

Update:(PM) The link to the study is up and running!
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