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Education Policy

by: Ms. Abbey Ritchie

Education Policy PUBPOL 695

Ms. Abbey Ritchie
GPA 3.76

David Cohen

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David Cohen
Class Notes
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Popular in Law Societies and Justice/ Political Science

This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ms. Abbey Ritchie on Thursday October 29, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PUBPOL 695 at University of Michigan taught by David Cohen in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 15 views. For similar materials see /class/231665/pubpol-695-university-of-michigan in Law Societies and Justice/ Political Science at University of Michigan.

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Date Created: 10/29/15
NYTimes Questions on Data Cloud Luster of Houston Schools July 11 2003 By DIANA JEAN SCHEMO HOUSTON When Jerroll Tyler a sophomore at Sharpstown High School here turned 18 he met the full force of Texas39 no nonsense approach to education He received an attendance contract warning that if he missed more than two days of school he was out permanently By week39s end Mr Tyler had caroused his way past the limit Months later when he showed up to take a state math exam needed for graduation a dean at Sharpstown told him he was no longer enrolled quotI went home and I never looked back at school againquot Mr Tyler said Which was why Mr Tyler and his mother Karen Gamble were shocked to see that Sharpstown High claimed it had no dropouts at all last year It reported instead that Mr Tyler had transferred to Southwest High a charter school he had never even visited Some 462 other students left the school that year and Sharpstown claimed that not one had dropped out Sharpstown was not alone A recent state audit in Houston which examined records from 16 middle and high schools found that more than half of the 5500 students who left in the 2000 1 school year should have been declared dropouts but were not That year Houston schools reported that only 15 percent of its students had dropped out The audit which recommended lowering the ranking of 14 of the 16 schools from the best to the worst has been a stunning blow to the Houston school system the largest and most celebrated district in Texas Last year the city won a 1 million prize as best urban district in the country from the Broad Foundation which is based in Los Angeles The city has also been a pillar of the so called Texas miracle in education whose emphasis on grading school performance became the model for the rest of the country under the federal No Child Left Behind Act It was largely on the strength of his success here that Rod Paige Houston39s former superintendent followed George W Bush east to become secretary of education Now some here are questioning whether the miracle may have been smoke and mirrors at least on the high school level And they are suggesting that perhaps Houston is a model of how the focus on school accountability can sometimes go wrong driving administrators to alter data or push students likely to mar a school39s profile through poor attendance or low test scores out the back door quotIt was Enron accountingquot said Joseph Rodriguez a former employee of the district39s office of research and accountability who is running for an open seat on the Houston school board quotWho are our dropouts We haven39t identified themquot Dr Paige who ran the Houston system from 1994 to early 2001 declined to directly address questions about the undercounting of dropouts Dan Langan a spokesman said quotThe secretary stands by his record of accomplishment in Texasquot Mr Langan said quotDr Paige has a very strong record of success in education reform in Houstonquot and had quotpromoted a culture of accountabilityquot The state audit issued last month recommended that the whole Houston school system be ranked quotunacceptablequot Houston school officials are appealing the proposed reclassifications saying that the problem was not large scale fraud but sloppy record keeping Under Texas39 system for reporting dropouts schools are supposed to enter one of several dozen codes when students leave and must have proof that students did not drop out but left for example to attend another school The state audit said that 3000 of the 5500 folders examined did not contain sufficient evidence like student signatures to prove that students were continuing their educations The students should therefore be reclassified as dropouts it said In an e mail message to state officials obtained by The New York Times one auditor noted that many students who had left school were coded as intending to enroll in an alternative or high school equivalency program and were by Texas rules not dropouts But the coding was often based on little more than a statement by a school principal quotIf it was permissible for school officials to declare intent for a student they could state anything they please and we would be obliged to accept their word as verificationquot wrote the auditor L T Bailey quotA school official may witness record or document39 the expressed intent of the parent guardian adult student but they cannot supplant that choicequot Kaye Stripling Houston39s superintendent of schools noted in the city39s appeal that a private audit of Houston schools based on records from the 2001 2 school year disputed only half as many records as the state review did using the earlier records Because Houston is making progress Dr Stripling contended it should not be punished The Houston system39s supporters in the business community some with close ties to the Bush administration maintain that the city39s dropout figures have long defied credibility but do not compromise the state39s educational achievements quotThe Texas miracle was not about high school performance it was about elementary school performancequot said Donald R McAdams an 11 year member of the Houston school board and author of the 2000 book quotFighting to Save Our Urban Schools and Winning Lessons from Houstonquot Debbie Graves Ratcliffe a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency which oversees the state39s public schools said that the state recognized the shortcomings of its method for calculating dropouts and that it was adopting a more stringent federal definition In the 2004 5 school year Ms Ratcliffe said Texas will begin judging schools by graduation rates not dropout rates The state39s inquiry here began after a local television station KHOU reported in February that Sharpstown had falsified dropout records An assistant principal at the school Robert Kimball said he had assigned an employee to contact some 30 students who he mistakenly thought had not shown up for classes in September 2002 In fact they had left the year before Some were attending other schools but the majority had dropped out When the school reported its dropout figures to the state however it altered the records to show that none had dropped out The school accused a former computer specialist Kenneth Cuadra of altering the data but Mr Cuadra has said that he changed the codes under the orders of senior administrators at Sharpstown and that he restored the correct codes the next morning after reflecting on the implications of what he had been asked to do According to records he provided Dr Kimball wrote to Sharpstown39s principal Carol Wichmann last November warning her that the school was misreporting drop out figures quotWe go from 1000 Freshman to less than 300 Seniors with no dropoutsquot Dr Kimball wrote quotAmazingquot The school went on to officially report that it had no dropouts insisting even after a district official questioned the claim at a school with quot747 of the students at riskquot Dr Wichmann did not respond to a request for comment but in an interview with KHOU this year she maintained that the school truly had no dropouts The school has formally charged Mr Cuadra with falsifying the data which he denies To Rick Noriega a state representative who once ran a dropout prevention program the claim of zero dropouts was infuriating He requested the state audit quotMy whole concern about this is that we are in denial about the severity of the problemquot Mr Noriega said In Texas schools are judged based on standardized examination scores attendance and dropout rates At Sharpstown the entire staff received cash bonuses for the school39s performance the year Jerroll Tyler said he was forced out In a third of Houston39s 30 high schools scores on the standardized exams have risen as enrollment has shrunk At Austin High for example 2757 students were enrolled in the 1997 1998 school year when only 65 percent passed the 10th grade math test an important gauge of school success in Texas Three years later 99 percent of students passed the math exam but enrollment shrank to 2215 students The school also reported that dropout figures had plummeted 92 percent to 03 percent from 41 percent Dr Kimball in an interview here said that many schools had assistant principals who act as quotbouncersquot pushing students who show up late to school or are frequently absent to quit In addition schools may hold back 9th graders who do poorly on a pre test for the 10th grade math exam producing an artificial quot9th grade bulgequot in student enrollment Dr Kimball said Studies have demonstrated that students who are left back are more likely to drop out quotYou39re driving kids out that will skew your test scoresquot Mr Noriega said Clement Nduli an immigrant from Zaire reported to 9th grade homerooms for two years though his report card shows he took 10th grade courses the second year Next month he is to enter 11th grade quotI was in 9th grade 9th grade then 11quot said Mr Nduli quotThey tell me it doesn39t matterquot Michael Scott a senior at Sharpstown last year failed the math examination six times and ultimately could not graduate He and his mother Annette Small fault the school for not giving him any math courses in his senior year to help him pass Nevertheless Sharpstown reported Michael Scott as one of its graduates quotMichael has a right to have an education and a function as a young black man in society and they took that away from himquot Ms Small said Mr Tyler the Sharpstown dropout says it was quota miraclequot that turned him around so that now he works as a certified long distance mover with his father An aunt and uncle took him in offering the steadiness he needed to grow quotThey taught me how to listenquot he said Still his mother said she was disgusted by the revelations about Sharpstown administrators who concealed the true fate of its students quotThey39re teaching the kids to abide by the rulesquot Ms Gamble said quotbut they don39t follow the rules themselvesquot


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