3/28/2006

Is This What Joyce Et Al Paid For? A One-Sided View from CEP

I finally got a chance to skim through one of the case studies that make up the CEP report on NCLB implementation that's been getting some coverage this week, and I have to say that if I was one of the folks at Joyce, Spencer, or the Kauffman Foundation (who paid for this) I would be mighty disappointed right now.

That's because the Chicago profile is basically a long-form narrative of how Board officials and school staff think about NCLB -- without much if any independent analysis or outside opinions.

What's the point of that? There's no independent view, and precious little skepticism about what school officials have to say. Whether it's choice, tutoring, or school improvement, the view you get is either the party line from the district or the fairly predictable view from a school principal. It's important, but it's barely the full story.

For example, you'd never know from the CEP case study that CPS didn't include disaggregated data in its accountability system before NCLB came along, or long kept its probation cutoff at 15 percent to supress the number of "failing" schools, or ramped up its in-house SES program even though it knew it would soon be disqualified as a provider, or hid spots in some better performing schools until forced to reveal them by a judge last year, or initially refused to allow outside tutors to rent or use space for NCLB tutoring. You get the idea.

To be fair, the case study still looks like it's worth reading, and I haven't examined it closely. Still, it's already clear that CEP should take a more independent view the next time around.

4 Comments:

Blogger Michele at AFT said...

So, you read one case study and think you can therefore sum up the 200-page report as "one-sided"? You should take time to read the entire report, which also includes a state survey, school district survey and 37 other case studies.

And, I don't it would be appropriate for CEP to express "skepticism" about the survey data they present. The point is to report the survey results, not editorialze on whether they think the senitments expressed are accurate.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Alexander Russo said...

true, i haven't read the whole thing -- have you? my point was to be clear about what i knew and didn't.

and my larger point is that the results -- which are being reported as comprehensive and independent -- may actually be more the educators' version of things than the full picture of what is going on.

specifically, there are precious few indications in the report that what CEP was told might or might not be the whole story.

this is especially important considering that jennings, who heads the organization, seems increasingly anti-NCLB in his statements. he's still a good guy and the report's still valuable, but people need to know where this is coming from.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Michele at AFT said...

No, I have only read some parts of the report in detail, which is part of why we haven't blogged on it in detail. It is interesting to me that the focus of the MSM and the bloggers (myself included) has been the narrowing of the curriculum when there is a lot of other info in the report. Also, if you look at Chapter 4, the case studies show that some districts reported that focusing on math and reading was helpful.

Q: Why did you bump this entry down so far? I had trouble finding it.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Alexander Russo said...

thanks for your comments, michelle --

true, you'd never know from the NYT that the changes might be working. the NPR segment is ironically enough the only thing i've seen that says this may not be a universally bad thing.

i really liked the focus on reading first and ELLs in the case study. i'm sick of SES and AYP and want to read something new.

it may be that the browser you're using doesn't show the site very well. the post is the 2nd from the top. or the site is broken -- again.

1:33 PM  

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