Results of all schools to go online

19th September 2003 at 01:00
Parents will have access to the exam results of every school at the click of a button under a $55.6 million (pound;34.7m) public-private initiative announced by President Bush.

They will be able to compare test results school by school across all 50 states and assess the progress towards literacy and maths targets laid down by the federal "No child left behind" legislation.

Mr Bush, who claims that his reforms have created a system "willing to change the soft bigotry of low expectations", said the new internet database will afford greater accountability.

"We want full disclosure," he added."It's an essential part of developing trust within the public school system, it is essential that parents have data at their disposal." The Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation, a charity aiming to improve standards, will fund the bulk of the project's cost, with the US department of education contributing some $5m (pound;3m).

The website, due online next January, will not only record test scores by school, district and state, but will also allow users to break down and analyse those results by age group, subject and race. It will also hold information on each district's spending in order to examine the relationship between pupil achievement and funding.

"The schools will not be given rankings as such, but parents will easily be able to search for higher-performing schools than their own," said Pia Saengswang, associate director of the Broad Foundation. "We hope it transforms the national dialogue around education."

But the new database is not a hit with everyone. Critics say it will not address the key issue of the school funding crisis.

"President Bush and the Republican party stalwarts are quite good at making promises and doing media events on education," said Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, Florida, where Mr Bush announced the project last week.

"Yet when it comes to substance - education funding - they have shied away from following through."

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