(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Idiocracy is a silly Mike Judge movie about an average Joe who finds himself shot into the future, where the world has suffered a catastrophic decline in mental ability over time. The protagantist, played by Luke Wilson, finds himself to be a relative super-genius, as the denizens of the future can barely speak a sentence and sit around all day watching mindless television programs. Our hero overcomes adversity to become President.

Every once in awhile, I see something that brings that movie to mind.

I’ve written about Arizona’s lowering of AIMS cut scores in order to game school accountability. AIMS however has four levels of achievement: Below Standard, Approaches Standard, Meets Standard and Exceeds Standard. The “Meets” category of course has been the focus of lowering cut scores.

Let’s take a look, however, at the more stable category of “Exceeds Standard.” Cut scores have been much more stable at the top. Figure 1 below presents data from the Tucson Unified School District Reading AIMS. The figure presents the percentage of TUSD 3rd and 6th grade scoring “Exceeds Standard” on the Reading AIMS for the Class of 2012.

For those without an abacus on hand, that’s an 88% decline in the percentage of children scoring at the advanced level between 3rd and 6th grade. Strangely, TUSD finds enough money to spend on a “Raza Studies” program in the midst of such catastrophic failure.

Any interest in running for Governor of Arizona?

Figure 2 presents the statewide figures for all public schools in Arizona for the Class of 2012 for the same grades and years.

Figure 2 presents an 80% statewide decline. Attendance in a typical Arizona public school seems injurious to the ability to perform high-level reading at grade level, at least according to the state’s own standards and measures.

8 Responses to Illiterocracy?

  1. Patrick says:

    Once again Matt finds yet another movie I have not seen. I’ll have to go check it out tonight, but I bet my local movie rental place doesn’t even have it.

    (They don’t even have PCU…in fact, not a single employee ever heard of it).

  2. matthewladner says:

    The Dead Milk Men had a song called Punk Rock Girl:

    So anyway at one point the singer describes going into a record store and asking for some Mojo Nixon. The staff said “He don’t work here.” The response: “If you don’t know Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin.”

    If your video store doesn’t have PCU…you need a new video store.

  3. Patrick says:

    punk rock hasn’t come very far…same drum beat. Is that what defines punk rock?

    I’d ask my music guru brother but he’s somewhere in Eastern Europe.

  4. matthewladner says:

    You can’t improve upon perfection… 🙂

  5. Brian says:

    Same drum beat? The suede denim secret police might have something to say about that.

  6. Patrick says:

    So I found Idiocracy at the movie rental store. The store was also out of The Hulk movies even though they said “We guarantee this movie will be in or its free” so even though I wasn’t going to rent that movie I said I was and they gave me a coupon for a free rental.

    Now if I can only translate that luck into the Casinos I can retire early.

    btw, Idiocracy is a good bad movie. It was much better than Drillbit Taylor.

  7. Crimson Wife says:

    Reading is one of those domains, however, where there’s a fairly steep learning curve. It’s pretty easy to learn to do basic decoding and get oneself literate to about a 4th grade level. To develop one’s reading level beyond that, however, takes a different skill set. Things like learning how to make inferences so that one can “read between the lines” of a passage is a LOT more challenging than learning the basics of sounding out words.

    I hate to sound like an intellectual snob, but I don’t think that everyone has the underlying potential to learn to read at a high level. So it’s to be expected that there will be far fewer “advanced” readers in the higher grades than in the primary ones.

  8. matthewladner says:

    Crimson Wife-

    On the NAEP, 5% of the Nation’s 4th graders score at the Advanced level, while 7% of 8th graders score Advanced.

    Now of course this could have more to do with where they set cut scores and whatnot, but if the categories are accurate, then the national trend seems different than the Arizona trend (if Arizona’s test and measures are to be believed.)

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