Multiple States Ditch My Little Pony Coloring Book Quality Academic Exams

March 12, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

New article on the quality of state tests vis a vis NAEP by Paul Peterson and Matthew Akerman at Education Next. The authors demonstrate a trend towards closer alignment in proficiency rates between state exams and NAEP during the Common Core era, with 20 states narrowing the gap. Several states, including at least Arizona and Florida, will debut new tests in a few weeks.

Of special interest to me in the above chart is the overall averages by year trends. Notice Tennessee’s long string of F grades, followed by A grades in 2011 and 2013. Was it a coincidence that Tennessee saw more NAEP progress than any other state between 2011 and 2013? Perhaps so, perhaps not.

Notice also however Washington D.C., which had even larger aggregate NAEP gains than Tennessee between 2011 and 2013 (and a long history of NAEP progress before 2013). Nothing but C grades thus far, but charter schools have been taking the place over and outscoring the (improving) district. Apparently there is more than one path up the mountain.

Can we attribute the general increase in the rigor of state tests to Common Core? The authors note in a fashion as dry as a martini:

CCSS may be driving these changes. One indication that this may be the case is that the six states that are not implementing CCSS for reading or math all continue to set low proficiency standards. Their grades: Virginia, C+; Nebraska, C; Indiana, C-; Texas, C-; Alaska, D+; and Oklahoma, D.

Regardless of where you stand on the Common Core project, and we’ve beat the horse into hamburger on it here, state tests with the approximate rigor of a My Little Pony coloring book- look Mommy I colored this unicorn blue-I’m PROFICIENT!!!- deserve no one’s support.  

In other words, if you are a Tennessee opponent of Common Core you owe everyone a realistic plan that keeps you at an A on this chart. If you want to go back to the old system, you need to explain why you want to spend tax dollars on a state sponsored weapon of mass deception (years of tests that proclaimed you proficient when you signed your name).

This is the space that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey staked out in his campaign- standards that are high but not common. It will be no small task to pull this off in practice, but it is the best path for an opponent of the Common Core project to follow.

 

 

 

 

 


Peshek on ESA legislation around the nation

March 11, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

My colleague Adam Peshek has a post up about the progress of ESA legislation around the country, including the above map. I would like to again thank my friends in the Arizona school district industrial lobbying complex. Without their having made the grave mistake of filing suit against two tiny voucher programs for children with special needs and foster care students, we would not be having this conversation today!

Most of the bills are in fact conversation starters, but one of those (in Virginia) passed one house and failed on a tie vote in the other.

Which state will be the next to turn red on Adam’s map? As an old football coach once told me “it depends on who is the bestus and wants it the mostus.”

Stay tuned to this channel…

UPDATE : The Mississippi House passed a special needs pilot program today 65-51, now heads to the Senate to be reconciled. Oklahoma effort pushed to next year’s session.

UPDATE Part Deux: Rhode Island has an ESA effort underway.


Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

March 10, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Good write up in the WaPo wonkblog on Robert Putnam’s new book.  Obvious resonance with Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart. In fact Murray had some “scissor graphs” of his own:

This bit from the WaPo article was especially poignant:

Lola and Sofia, as Putnam names them (all of the ethnography subjects in the book are anonymous), have navigated life without coaches, pastors, tutors, friends’ parents, counselors, neighbors, community groups, parents’ co-workers and family friends. They feel abandoned even by the one group of adults we like to think poor kids can always count on — their teachers.

“In junior high,” Lola, the older sister, explains to Putnam’s team, “the teachers actually cared.”

“In high school, teachers don’t care,” Sofia says.

“The teachers would even say out loud that they get paid to be there,” Lola says.

“Just to be there,” Sofia says. “Just to babysit.”

“Yeah,” Lola adds, “that they’re there just to babysit, that they don’t care if we learn or not.”

They believe the honors classes at their high school got all the good teachers, but they don’t understand how students were chosen for those classes. Only the smart kids, they say, were told about the SATs. They tried to join after-school activities — the very venue where they might find structure and mentors — but Lola was told her reading wasn’t good enough for a reading club, and Sofia that her grades weren’t high enough to play volleyball.

Through their eyes, coaches and teachers were gatekeepers who extended opportunity only to chosen students.

Their view of the world around them is a deeply lonely one. And it exposes an inverse reality among the privileged that Putnam admits he did not previously see even in the lives of his own children: Take away the parents who drive you to soccer, the peers you know who went off to college, the neighbor who happens to need a summer intern — and childhood is bewildering. A task as simple as picking the right math class becomes another trapdoor to failure.

The privileged kids don’t just have a wider set of options. They have adults who tailor for them a set of options that excludes all of the bad ones.

Meanwhile, for a child like Sofia, “she’s just completely directionless, because life happens to her,” Putnam says. “What she’s learned her whole life is that life is not something you do, it’s something you endure.”

Before you rush off to use poverty as a blanket excuse for the failings of the public school system, let me note the following: many of today’s poor children had multiple generations of ancestors who had the opportunity to attend public schools that were funded generously compared to schools around the world. Ideally public education serves as an agent of class mobility, but obviously we have been getting far less of this than desired. The costs of the failures of our social institutions-including but certainly not limited to our educational institutions-seem to be compounding over time.

 

 


OECD video on the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

March 9, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So this OECD study find that older Americans are average in math, but younger Americans are at the bottom. The NAEP Long Term Trend data for 12th graders shows very little change for 17 year olds between 1978 and 2013, and that small change is in a positive direction. Feel free to speculate in the comments.

 


Florida’s Katie Swingle testifies on ESA: “I want the rest of the country to watch this”

March 8, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

“Mrs. Swingle gave the close on the bill” indeed.


Silicon Valley Hacks Education

March 6, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Must read Wired article on Silicon Valley techies going big into homeschooling. Money quote:

“There is a way of thinking within the tech and startup community where you look at the world and go, ‘Is the way we do things now really the best way to do it?’” de Pedro says. “If you look at schools with this mentality, really the only possible conclusion is ‘Heck, I could do this better myself out of my garage!’”

Disintermediation comes to education.


Huckabee Sinks to a New Low (Yes, It’s Possible)

March 6, 2015

Shameless Huckabee

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Over on Hang Together, I declare shenanigans. Everybody grab a broom!


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