Dubya’s Failure vs. Jeb’s Success

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Heritage Foundation released a study by Dan Lips and yours truly today making the case that real education reform needs to come up from the states, rather than down from the federal government.  We focus on the success of Florida’s reforms, the disappointment of NCLB, and note that in fact NCLB threatens Florida’s continued success. Now the Bushies are exiting the Washington scene, can we at long last admit that the 2014 requirement is encouraging states to lower their standards?

Dan explains this better than I can, so I’ll just sit back an marvel at the cool graphics that the Heritage folks came up with, like the one above.

16 Responses to Dubya’s Failure vs. Jeb’s Success

  1. KDeRosa says:

    I’m thinking that Florida’s large Cuban population and the fuzzy nature of the Hispanic label are at least partially responsible for skewing these scores.

  2. matthewladner says:

    Florida’s Hispanics scored much lower in 1998 (pre-reforms) than they did afterward. The exact same trend is evident in Florida’s African American scores- in 2007, Florida’s African Americans outscored the statewide average for Louisiana and Misssissippi, and were with in a hair’s breath of many other states.

  3. KDeRosa says:

    No doubt there was improvement. But, based on the somewhat middling relative scores for blacks and the higher relative scores of Hispanics (which could be influenced by the large Cuban advantage not present in other states), it could be that Florida has gone from an underperformer to an average performer. That still tells us something and is useful for other other underperforming states, but might not be as useful a model for states to emulate that are already average performers. And, that’s the area we’re really interested in, getting groups to perform better than their traditional average.

  4. matthewladner says:

    There are only 4 states whose African Americans outscored Florida’s African Americans in 2007, after a decade a huge progress. Likewise, there are very few states whose Hispanics outscore Florida’s in 2007, but their scores were much lower back in 1998, when a higher percentage of Florida Hispanics were Cuban. Also- Anglo scores are also way up in Florida.

    Over the past year here in Arizona, I’ve had a number of people attempt to develop a “magic Cuban” theory to explain what happen in Florida. It doesn’t hold up unless you are also willing to subscribe to a magic Haitian and magic good ole boy theory as well.

  5. Diane Hanfmann says:

    Mr. Ladner,
    I remain at a loss why you continue to promote the A+ plan when you have previously agreed a value added system would be better? Certainly, Florida does not utilize such an approach. What is it about Derek Neal’s “Proficiency Counts: Left Behind by Design” that you can invalidate and agree with Florida using cutoff scores? Such cutoff scores can prove as incentives to game the syatem and create bubble kids. Why do you consistently ignore the FACT that a third grade retention policy filters out the poor performers, thus making it unwise to compare a filtered population to states without the same filter and demographics? Why as well do you fail to revall a retention policy was not in place in your comparisons to 4th grade scorees in 1998 and compare them to a year when there was a retention policy? What was your response to Dr. Morris’s work showing Florida’s school grades do not reflect school quality? Just asking.

  6. matthewladner says:

    I have agreed that a value added system might improve A+, but I am not in the habit of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    On the subject of bubble kids, I have previously noted that the percentage of Florida kids scoring at the Basic, Proficient and Advanced levels are all up strongly, ergo the gains of “bubble kids” is not coming at the expense kids with more advanced skills.

    On the retention policy, much of Florida’s gains came before the advent of Florida’s retention policy in 2003. In addition, the policy itself has been shown independently to teach kids to read (see recent Irony post). Retained kids do get tested every year the 4th grade NAEP is administered-sometimes after a repeating 3rd grade, sometimes after just a summer program, sometimes after a partial repeat of 3rd grade. Lo and behold- they have learned how to read.

    On the question of whether A+ assigns perfectly fair grades to public schools, I don’t know whether it does or not. So long as the policy is leading to more children learning to read, I don’t much care.

  7. Diane Hanfmann says:

    A value added system would produce drastically different results than the bologna we are being fed. Could it be that multitudes of studies showing the A+ system to be
    flawed have been ignored in the name of political motivation?
    Why do you focus on grade 4? Could it be that grade 4 differs dramatically from the other grades in that it has been plucked of poor performers, a fact you often forget when portraying Florida with apositive spin? Why would a person with a Research position forget this filter when it pollutes a comparison? I can only guess it is politicsin action.
    As for gifted in Florida, their assessment is flawed. First, they are held only to age grade proficiency, a goal which may be met on or before day one of class. Even if they have been granted the good fortune of takinga grde 5 math class while in grade 3,
    they take the grade 3 Math test, and ironically this gets called learning gains. I prpose it gets called reviewing material mastered years ago which benefits the school at the expense of the gifted students’ learning. One exception would be the gifted child who has been whole grade accelerated does take the FCAT of the grade to which they were promoted, but learning gains do not count.
    Apparently you missed my point about bubble kids or I did not make it clearly. Bubble kids refers to the targetting of kids near the bar of the next level for targeted instruction while those expected to remain in the current level are less important for the teacher’s concern. It is all about gaming the system.
    Did you find the extra retention of HIspanics interesting in the Winters/Greene study
    interesting? Wasn’t that the year prior to the year tyou keep promoting?
    I wonder if you might be better finding a new topic if you don’t care about the quality of an accountability ystem. By definition, shouldn’t an accountability sytem be al about quality? Are you informing the public how the A+ plan is slowly being dismantled in Florida?
    When such lovely things as you like to portray are not found in later years, what does grade 4 matther? Our Hispanics are dropping out. It is possible to finsd studies that retention gains are short’lived. You can also find studies associating repeated retention with dropping out. Do you attend to anything which detracts from your political motive?
    Moving from one proficiency level to the next can be accomplohed with a one point improvement. Thus a tiny gain can look like a win. It should be size of learning gain
    that is examined and reported. Am I wasting my time with someone who realy doesn’t care about educational implications or quality points? I sent to our state an example where an A high school hasd one point higher size of a learning gain than an F school. Why didn’t Jeb go with value adde? Could it be that it would not help his political goal?
    Even our stae’s OPPAGA report on pre’school spoke to the crazy things happeniing due to the Pre-K accountability sytem. Those same crazy thing shappen under the A+ plan. I like to wonder if the A stands for Abra Cadabra, you have been fooled. The trouble is I haven’t been fooled.

  8. Diane Hanfmann says:

    My points go without an answer. I do hate broken accountability sytems. I have student benefit at heart and not political motivations. I hate that the public is misled
    as a result. I hate when dumbing down can be masked. I hate when a naive public is
    fed faulty information and unable to detect their need to seek far diffferent information about what is happening in their child’s school. If you had similar interest for better things for Florida’s children, you would not spin positive attention to a broken measuring stick.
    I am aware of the political ramification of choosing to use a definition of failing schools as ones with low rates of proficiency. A school which contains good students is not necessarily a good school. For example, a school that serves a great number of gifted students and an affluent populatio will have to do little to produce high rtaes of grade level proficiency. Many gifted begin the school year having already mastered that goal. Thus we can utilize the already coined term slide and glide school. They can look good without producing much growth in their studnet body.
    Instead a good school should be defined by the amount of skill growth produced within its students. This measure filters out much of the SES correlated interference.

    Example 2. I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, if I was given , for one month, ten Olympiad runners to coach, they would still beat the pants off ten running enthusiasts from my neighborhood who had been coached for the same month by an Olympic coach. Why? Not because of my talent as a coach but because of their ability. The Olympiad runners may look good buttheir time with me did not enhance their ability. Their skills did not grow whereas the running enthusiasts may look bad in comparison but they may actually have grown in their skills as a result of their interactions with a great coach.

    I await your responses to my previous post. Good night from the bologna hater

  9. matthewladner says:

    As the Prime Minister of Britain would say “I refer the honourable lady to the reply I made some moments ago.”

  10. Diane Hanfmann says:

    My questions remain unanswered. As you are interested in promoting school choice, should it not follow that you would want parents to have access to valuable and pertinent information so they could make a good decision about where their child would learn the most? This is not what rates of proficiency would do. Would it not make sense that you would want to preach value added methodology, size of learning gain, and the end of cutoff scores to reduce the likelihood of gaming the system? I held free parent groups and tried ot teach those topics to aid in their ability to separate useful information from less useful information. Good night once again from the honorable bologna hater.

  11. matthewladner says:

    I refer the honourable lady to the reply I made on Jan. 10th, 10 pm, first two paragraphs.

  12. Diane Hanfmann says:

    My questions remain unanswered. The honorable lady repeats herself. Hoping for an honorable set of responses to my many important questions if one has student interest at heart.
    Empowering parents is dear to me. Allowing them to be deceived by our state’s school grades keeps them misinformed. Size of learning gain speaks to instructional effectiveness while rates of proficiency have a correlation to SES.
    What part of Derek Neal’s “Proficiency Counts:Left Behind by Design” can you invalidate?

  13. Diane Hanfmann says:

    Good night. I will dream that you decide to place education above political goals. I see you reversing your positive spin on a pathetic accountability sytem and teaching parents to reject the A+ bologna and help them realize size of learning gain is the data of interest. I see you confessing that a retention policy is not appropriate to omit from the results you tout. I see you exposing the spin and shedding it so all Florida’s
    students can benefit. Stick with dumping NCLB. Just add Dump the A+ Plan as well. Then write about more aptlt tiling the article Dubya’s Failure vs Jeb’s Failure: How could it get worse? I look forward to a good night’s sleep ….and your answers to my questions! Thanks fo rreferring to me as the honorable lady.

  14. matthewladner says:

    You are welcome. On your points, I will again refer the honourable lady to the reply I made on January 10th.

    Now perhaps you would like to address a few questions.

    If you think that Florida’s NAEP scores are simply a product of the social promotion ban, how then to explain the strong progress demonstrated on NAEP between 1998 and 2002, before program had been implemented.

    Further, how can one explain the 54% increase in the percentage of children who score “Proficient” on NAEP and the 100% increase in the percentage of children who scored “Advanced” on the 4th grade reading exam between 1998 and 2007?

    The social promotion policy targets only very poor readers, and gets only a bare majority of them into the program. The Proficient and Advanced levels on NAEP are high bars, so unless we wish to posit that the program is so powerful that it will transform an illiterate child into William F. Buckley over the course of a summer, extra semester or year, we might need to search for other explanations.

    Perhaps the mandatory retraining of K-3 teachers in reading instruction had a positive impact. Perhaps the social promotion ban encouraged parents to get more involved. Perhaps the sanctions on failing schools motivated more successful efforts. Perhaps losing tens of thousands of students and their funding to public and private alternatives created a healthy incentive for public school improvement.

    Whatever the case, there isn’t any doubt that Florida’s schools do a much better job teaching children how to read today than they did in 1998.

  15. Diane Hanfmann says:

    I have previously stated I am not familiar enough with the NAEP development to address it. Instead, I speak to the A+ plan and our state test, FCAT. As for improvements on that front as appaering via the A+ plan, I refer you to the studies showing gaming of the system in Florida (Figlio>) and the opportunity to use cutoff scores to game the system as in Derek Neal’s “Proficiency Counts: Left Behind by Design”. You are certainly aware of the cutoff scores which compose our A+ system.
    You are also aware that my longstanding position is to scrap the A+ plan and move to value added. Such a change would end the gaming possibilities made possible by cutoff scores, reduce the bubble kids phenomenon, make every child’s growth important, allow for individual starting points, and eliminate the skewing by SES of the A+ plan as shown by Palm Beach County School District’s data, the work of Professor Tschinkel, and the worl of Dr,. Morris. The public would also be educated properly when provided with size of learning gain as info to note rather than rate of profinncy.
    No longer would schools which house large numbers of students of poverty be unfairly burdened by the SES correlation of the neighborhood they serve and static achievement mesures and no more would slide and glide schools earn an A for basically housing their students ratherthan providing them with ayear’s growth from their favorable starting point.
    Relative to scoring high on the FCAT, may I point out the , imho, absurd testing
    directives for our gifted or any student who is capable of achieveing above his/her age grade placement. Example: A third grade student goes to grade 5 for Math only. This child must take the grade 3 FCAT, even though it neither reflects his/her ability or the instruction received. The results get termed learning gains even though they are actually indicators of review of material mastered years ago which fail to aid the student , yet contribute to the school’s data like a feather in a cap. (This inappropriate, imho, assessment procedure is not found with our learning challenged students, who can access alternative assessments.) Grade accelerated students take the FCAT of the grade to which they are promoted but learning gains do not count.
    Our best students can learn nothing and be viewed as successes, thus masking a dumbing down. Our stae’s growth model stops tracking at level 3 of 5. Would this translate into an underlying belief that 3 is good enough? Who cares about 4 or 5 scorers? While you worry about AYP, as do I, this neglect of those overLevel 3 might join your concerns . We are often provided clumps of 3, 4, and 5 as high standards when my eyes see three degrees of mastery. Didn’t Neal find that scores tend to gravitate towards the middle under NCLB accountability ystems? This would show a decrease in functioning for our best students. I remind you of Fordham’s “High Achievers in an Era of NCLB”. Our stae lacks an acceleration policy mandate and florida is not immune to the avoidance of acceleration as depicted in A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Best Studennts. What if worries about test score changes and the high stakes attached serve as impetus for keepingbright students from accessing acceleration/accessing content typically reserrved for older students?
    You are most likely aware that the FCAT delivered inflated reading scores for grade 3 in 06 as I recall. The BUROS Institute had to investigate. They included in their finds that it was unwise to attach high stakes to a single indicator. Yet Florida continues, years later, to ignore that in their elementary and middle schools.
    You may not be aware of the OPPAGA report on Pre-K and the flaws of its accountability sytem. These exact flaws are also foud in the A+ plan which yields so much power.
    I recently was debating this topic elsewhere and was asked to explain the reduction in F schools. Well, that was esay. When you allow the low scorers to leave your school to attend elsewhere, you remove low scores from the data pool, That sounds similar to the etention policy effect. It may actually be an addition of a gifted unit or the introduction of an IB program that create s better data, not instructional efectiveness. By moving a low scoring program elsewhere which can better absorb the scores, inferences of instructional improvement can be mistakenly made. What if the A+ plan becomes anumbers game?
    Dump NCLB. Dump the A+ plan too!

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