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Here’s a fascinating tidbit that I didn’t fit into my article about the school board race: Candidate John Lee Evans wants a new way to evaluate San Diego Unified schools that incorporates art programs, parent involvement, physical fitness and community demand for a school — a lot of stuff that isn’t measured by the standardized tests that make or break schools’ reputations under No Child Left Behind.

The new system would “show this is what we’re striving for,” Evans said. “Because right now we’re striving for scores on a couple of standardized tests so we look good.”

If schools were evaluated on other qualities than test scores, he explained, they would devote more attention to those areas. California schools are assessed on the basis of yearly improvement on standardized tests. Repeatedly failing to make the raising bar set by the law can tag a school with the “Program Improvement” label or eventually force a school to restructure.

The federal No Child Left Behind law is a dividing issue between Evans and incumbent school board member Mitz Lee, a strong supporter of No Child Left Behind as a way to make schools accountable for student achievement. She has lauded its attention to scores for student subgroups, rather than school averages, as a crucial way to ensure that students of all ethnic and economic backgrounds succeed.

“It’s not punishment. It’s accountability,” Lee said of the law. “It’s showing the schools they need help.”

EMILY ALPERT

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