Monday, August 11, 2003

California Failing School Theme Continues. . .

Lance Izumi is first out of the gate with Pacific Research Institute's "California Education Report Card: Index of Leading Indicators."

The Orange County Register summarizes some of the report's findings:

• On the 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading exam, just 21 percent of California fourth-graders scored at or above the "proficient" level. The national rate was 30 percent.

• The 2000 math part of the NAEP for fourth-graders saw improvement by all racial groups, "including African-American and Hispanic students ... compared to scores on the 1996 exam." However, both Hispanic and African-American Californians had scores "considerably lower than the scores of Texas African-Americans and Hispanics." This is an important comparison because Texas also is a large, diverse state with many immigrant students.

• Scores of English learners on the California English Language Development Test almost tripled in 2002, to 32 percent considered "proficient," from just 11 percent in 2001. The 1998 English for the Children initiative, which essentially eliminated bilingual education in favor of English immersion, is working.

• In the 2001-02 school year, 30 percent of students "in the ninth-grade class four years earlier either dropped out or for other reasons did not graduate from high school."

• In 2002, 59 percent of incoming Cal State students took remedial English or math courses. It's appalling that even college students, despite 13 years in K-12 public schools, still can't read and do math.

• From 1995-96 to 2000-01, crimes against persons - assault with a deadly weapon, battery, homicide, robbery/extortion and sex offenses - increased 33 percent in schools. "The rate of sex offenses during this period increased 94 percent." Commenting on this section of the report, Mr. Izumi said, "Interviews of principals showed that, as achievement goes up, safety and discipline problems go down."

Stay tuned for a note on how California's urban centers performed compared to other cities on the NAEP and for the release of California's test scores later this week. My bet is that California will have thousands more children eligible for public school choice with nowhere to go.

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