Press Release

for further information:
CONTACT: Monty Neill, Executive Director, FairTest, (857) 350-8207
or email
Lisa Guisbond, K-12 Test Reform Analyst, FairTest, 617-730-5445,
or email lisa.guisbond@verizon.net395-6773




"No Child Left Behind" Seen As Complicating the Problem

CAMBRIDGE, MA -- A national study on the "hidden crisis"
of low minority graduation released today by two nonpartisan groups
- the Civil Rights Project (CRP) at Harvard and the Urban Institute
(UI) - should be viewed with serious concern by school administrators
and residents of Massachusetts, according to the National Center
for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest).

The study found that Massachusetts is among the 10 worst states
overall for Black and Hispanic high school graduation rates and
among the four worst states for Hispanic graduation rates.

According to the study, 73.7 percent of white students in Massachusetts
graduate from high school, compared to 36.1 percent of Hispanic
students and 49.4 percent of African-American students. The
new study also highlights concerns about weak graduation accountability
standards in Massachusetts.

The CRP/Urban Institute study concludes: "America's minority
children are being left behind when it comes to high school graduation.
High school graduation rates now are alarmingly low for most
minority groups, particularly among young males. In 2001, only
50 percent of all black students, 51 percent of Native American
students, and 53 percent of all Hispanic students graduated from
high school. Black, Native American and Hispanic males fare even
worse: 43 percent, 47 percent and 48 percent, respectively.
This compares to about 75 percent of all white high school students
graduating on a nationwide basis."

On the study, FairTest Executive Director Monty Neill commented:
"The lack of meaningful federal or state oversight of high
school graduation reporting permits 'hide-the-minority-dropouts'
gamesmanship to flourish. In some schools, a missing student
is presumed to either be in school or to have graduated, when,
in fact, that student may well have dropped out. Incredibly,
some states report a 5 percent drop-out rate for African Americans,
when, in reality, only half of its African American students are
graduating with diplomas."

Monty Neill added: "The drop-out problem for minority school
children in the U.S. is likely to get even worse due to an overemphasis
under 'No Child Left Behind' on test-based accountability.
In most states, NCLB's accountability system remains driven almost
exclusively by test scores. Under such an accountability system,
it is easier and more cost-effective to raise overall test scores
by removing low performing students from the test-taking pool
than it is to invest in the resources and programs needed to improve
the academic performance of the struggling students."

"Clearly, changes are needed if we want to prevent a worsening
of the 'drop-out/push-out syndrome'," said Lisa Guisbond,
a FairTest K-12 test reform analyst. "The overemphasis on
testing must be reduced, and far more powerful incentives must
be created for schools to hold on to all their students."

To see the full report, go to

FairTest is an advocacy organization working to end the abuses,
misuses and flaws of standardized testing and ensure that evaluation
of students and workers is fair, open, and educationally sound.


- - 3 0 - -