When failing students become “risky assets”

Is a struggling student a challenge for a teacher, or a liability that a school administrator must unload? In a blog linked below, veteran educator Anthony Cody makes a strong argument that the highstakes standardized testing mania has encouraged many administrators to treat their failing students as “risky assets” to be jettisoned for the sake of their schools’ accountability ratings and their own professional careers.

Cody compares these school administrators to business managers who seek to get rid of poorperforming investments that weigh down their portfolios. Public schools aren’t supposed to be profitmaking ventures, but Cody argues that No Child Left Behind and other “accountability” requirements have prompted school officials to treat improved test scores as profits and failing scores and those students who make them as liabilities.

“The ideology driving this is rooted in the belief that public schools and their employees must, like businesses, suffer bad consequences if they are ‘unprofitable.’ But in the world of education, the bottom line of dollars and cents has been replaced by data tables that show rates of graduation and standardized test scores,” Cody writes.

In extreme cases, superintendents and principals cheat. Just this month, former El Paso ISD Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia pled guilty in federal court to cheating the accountability system to inflate 10th grade test scores. He did that by moving students who were likely to score poorly on the exam into other grades.

Even in lessextreme cases, the overfocus on test scores can deprive students of other important educational opportunities. And, morally, that is something of a crime too.

-From Education Week


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