Punxsutawney Phil

Amidst all the hoopla and heartache resulting from the Great NCGOP Tax Increase of 2014, one item may have escaped your attention. Specifically, the imposition of a relentless testing regime for 3rd graders. Dave Ribar at Applied Rationality explores the disconnect between the likely numbers of students who will fail and the shortfall in funding for remediation.

The policy itself is hideous.

A while back, Punxsutawney Phil (Berger) and his tea-party colleagues muscled through an education "reform" plan that requires third-graders to pass new reading proficiency tests. To give students the best chance of passing, most school districts are adopting a "portfolio" approach that subjects the students to 36 assessments.

Students who don't pass will be required to attend reading "camps" over the summer. Those who don't attend the camps or fail the tests after the camps will get to do third grade over--and possibly over again.

Testing for the students is beginning and will continue for 12 weeks. It's hard to imagine much learning going on in the classrooms with students having to sit for the assessments and teachers having to conduct them.

Adding insult to injury ...

It is estimated that somewhere between 37,000 and 75,000 students will fall short of the mark and be sent to the camps. An analysis by the NC Department of Public Instruction estimated that at least $18.3 million would be needed to fund the camps if 37,000 students failed the tests. However, in their wisdom, Punxsutawney Phil and his colleagues (who appear to have failed third-grade math) only allocated $15.5 million, leaving local school districts to pick up the rest of their tab.

Can you guess which school districts are likely the have the largest number of students who fall short? You got it: districts that are already struggling with insufficient funding, teacher shortages, and too many students living in poverty.

If you have the stomach for confronting insanity, go read Dave's entire blog post. It's an excellent analysis of another potentially disastrous policy issue slammed through the legislature last year.