Idiocracy Arrives Much Earlier Than Anticipated

May 17, 2016

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Difficult for me to find much fault in this Jeff Rice column, keep hoping to wake up like Bobby Ewing and discover last season was a dream.


October 24, 2008

(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.