Pennsylvania Department of Ed Responds

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As we have reported (TQB Vol. 5 No. 9, April 16, 2004), there has been quite the brouhaha over whether or not the Pennsylvania Department of Education should release teachers' Praxis results, as they did, upon request, for Philadelphia. Recently, in a letter to the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation's weekly online newsletter, The Education Gadfly, Keith Pierce, Press Secretary and Director of Communication, defended the Pennsylvania Department of Education's decision in response to a Chester Finn editorial blasting the state's position. Pierce makes a good point that, under the law, teachers have until 2006 to become "highly qualified," so the pressure to make the test results public to the extent that they reveal individual scores is premature.

On the other hand, deadline or no deadline, the public may have the right to know now how many teachers in a district can't pass a 10th grade test in the subject they're teaching. A little bit of public outrage might remind us all why NCLB was ever passed. But Pierce argues that releasing the test scores would have "needlessly embarrassed many hard-working Pennsylvania teachers by name" through a process of elimination.

There are more good reasons than bad for districts to publicly acknowledge the work that they and their teachers have ahead of themselves for the next year and a half. Philadelphia's public, aggressive and appropriate response to its dismal scores should be emulated.