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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Academic progress? Think again

A new study by the Center for Education Policy claims significant improvement in student achievement across the country. The Cato Institute discounts the study, calling the research “relatively worthless high-stakes state-level testing data.”

“For reasons known only to the report’s authors, they make no use of the available U.S. trend data from either the PISA or the PIRLS international tests (though the CEP study mentions PISA results for a single point in time, it ignores the changes in that test’s scores over time.) As it happens, U.S. scores have declined on both PISA and PIRLS in every subject and at both grades tested since they were first administered in 2000/2001.”

This doesn’t appear to bother the Pennsylvania Department of Education which states, “A new national study shows the progress Pennsylvania is making in preparing its students for success in the global economy.” The Education Department’s news release highlights, “moderate-to-large gains in reading in middle and high school grades and moderate-to-large gains in math among elementary and middle school students.”

The new study coincides with a push for Governor Rendell’s six-year school funding plan totaling $2.6 billion. Apparently this study proves that more education spending equals more successful students. I’m not sold and neither are state legislators as a portion of the governor’s plan, the $291 million increase for FY 2008-09, continues to spark debate over the state budget.

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