Friday, February 21, 2014

Testing boycott and teacher ratings

A snowstorm, an earthquake  --  and now we have Pamela Grundy and Pat McCrory on the same side of an education issue. The end times must be here.

Grundy, a founder of Mecklenburg ACTS and Parents Across America,  is urging parents to boycott state exams this spring,  part of a national  "Testing Resistance and Reform Spring"  protest against excessive testing.  Other sponsors are FairTest,  United Opt Out,  the Network for Public Education and Save Our Schools.

Grundy and Carol Sawyer of Meck ACTS
So far there aren't a lot of details about the boycott.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg parents have talked about keeping their kids out of testing in the past;  the official stand is that tests are part of the curriculum and parents aren't allowed to opt out.

McCrory,  the Republican governor,  probably doesn't support the boycott.  But he did get vocal about the hazards of overtesting at last week's Emerging Issues Forum on teachers.   (Speaking of which,  anyone interested in issues raised at that forum can sign up for a free online course on world-class teaching,  sponsored by N.C. State's Emerging Issues Institute.)

No one's arguing against kids taking tests to show what they know.  The controversy springs from the barrage of N.C. exams designed primarily to rate teachers and schools.  A lot of folks who want solid data about the quality of public schools say the state is going too far in the quest to generate numbers that may or may not capture teacher quality.

Meanwhile,  we just got a first look at how those test-generated ratings play out for N.C. schools and districts.  I'll be eager to hear what people are thinking as they check out data on their schools.  The state's site makes it easy to look up schools and districts,  but it's tough to do any kind of big-picture comparison and analysis looking up one data point at a time.  State officials say they'll send me a spreadsheet as early as today.  If you'd like a copy,  shoot me an email at with  "spreadsheet"  in the header.

I caught up with Julie Kowal,  executive director of CarolinaCAN,  after I'd filed the story on value-added ratings.  Her group is big on data and accountability,  so it was no surprise to hear her say that  "the wonk in me"  loves this report:  "It is so valuable for the state to make this publicly available in the way they have. We need this data to be able to make responsible decisions."  But she added a note of ambiguity:  "The parent in me thinks it's very difficult to know what it's good for."


Wiley Coyote said...

This data is as useless as the sixth toe on my right foot.

Anonymous said...

What are credentials of mock acts? How many members (not how many have signed their petitions). Who makes up their board or decides their policy positions?

amyo said...

I would be interested in opting my 3rd grade child out of testing--but I'm uneasy about what repercussions it would have for her, for her teacher, and for her school. Barring a catastrophe, she will pass her EOGs, but would her teacher be penalized? Would she be penalized? Everything seems so capricious and arbitrary these days--I'd hate to find myself driving my kid to a summer reading camp as a result.

I will also say that I volunteer in her class every week, and they are taking 3 reading tests a week--all of which are in no way related to the actual subjects they are studying, just comprehension tests on random passages. These tests suck away time for instruction (if you get finished early, you have to sit around, as with any standardized test) and are not being taken seriously by students--they just feel like busywork. The teachers are frazzled and anxious, and feel mostly like record-keepers. It's nonsensical and bordering on criminal to treat our children and their teachers this way.

Pamela Grundy said...

Just to clarify, is offering information and support to families who are considering joining the national movement to opt out of state exams. This is a very serious decision that needs to be taken seriously. The exams have different consequences for students in different grades, schools and districts, so it's important that families considering an opt-out investigate their individual situations thoroughly before making that decision. For more information, stay tuned to our website and Facebook page.

Pamela Grundy said...

amyo, third grade is a particularly difficult year for opt-out because of the state legislature's mandate that third graders pass the state test to move on to fourth grade. Unless your daughter qualifies under one of the exceptions that CMS just obtained, we would recommend that she go ahead and take the reading test this year. Her teacher would not, however, be penalized. Teachers are required to give the test, but cannot force students to actually take it. Please e-mail us at if you have more questions.

We expect to have some more fact sheets about tests and consequences up on the website some time today, or by Monday at the latest.

Pamela Grundy said... is a loosely based coalition of Mecklenburg County residents interested in schools and education. We don't have an official board or members – people come and go based on their interest in the issues we're currently pursuing. We do not accept donations; members personally fund the website and any other of our quite minimal expenses.

For credentials: we've been active in the community for many years. We do our best to provide the public with accurate information, and we advocate for policies that we believe will be good for children. Our positions are on our website. People can judge for themselves. I would say that we have been effective enough in the past that our endeavors warrant media coverage of the kind we're getting here.

If anyone out there is interested in helping to organize this opt-out effort, please e-mail us at, and we'd be glad to talk with you about joining us.

Anonymous said...

Larry, anything from me is posted under my name. Ann Caulkins doesn't generally get involved in newsroom work, but you can email her at More appropriate, if you have a complaint about my blog management, would be the editor, Rick Thames, We've talked occasionally about screening and allowing anonymous posting, but never found a perfect balance.

Fake Name said...

Oh great ask Rick his work with me on personal attacks and fairness at the observer.

That way when you stop anonymous attacks on folks like myself, he will be able to advise you on how the observer handed it the last time I challenged them.

Anonymous said...

I delete personal attacks and name calling against commenters. The comments about you are on-topic and civil, responding to an issue you have raised over and over and over, about your ability to comment on this site. If people disagree that you're being suppressed, that's fair commentary. I think this is growing tiresome, so let's refocus on actual educational issues. You have email info if you want to follow up or file a complaint.

Fake Name said...

Anyone notice how Ann used Pat and Grundy as polar opposites.

Grundy who is used over and over as a source for just about every other education story has been proven as revered by Ann.

So to say the end is near as Pat is in the same mind as here, shows from the start the bias of the writer.

But then again we all know the bias of the writer and so many enjoy reading it.

Oh in another hit piece by Ann on Charter Schools, called diversity in Charter Schools, someone said what is the punch line.

The punch line is that after 40 plus years we finally have something in education that works and that is Charter Schools.

Daddy daycare said...

Sorry I have no personal attack comment.

Just wanted to know if Pamela Grundy and MeckACTS group has hooked up with the growing group

It is a large group of educators, doctors, sleep experts, parents, students and school district administrators pushing for sensible, healthy start times for teenage students. Check out the website, great info.

amyo said...

Hi Mr. Fake Name,

I think Ann was pointing out the fact that Pam Grundy and McRory represent very different perspectives on education, generally--and that it is unusual for them to agree on something, which is most certainly true. Given that this is a blog, I don't think that Ann has exactly the same responsibility to withhold her perspective entirely when reporting information, but I do think she does a good job of being as fair-minded as a reasonable person could expect her to be.

Pamela Grundy said...

Hi Daddy daycare,

Thanks for the invitation. As our resources are limited, however, we generally focus on one or two issues at a time. But we wish you luck, and are always happy to offer advice if you have questions.

Anonymous said...

Fake Name, you are still missing the bigger picture regarding charters. The few that we have around Charlotte, for the most part, are successful and serve a good purpose. The problem is, now that NC has removed the cap, and Senate Bill 337 passed, the probability of NC seeing what is taking place in Louisiana becomes highly probable. Those fighting against it understand the future implications it will have on education. But like I always say, "Foresight is a staunch Republican's Achilles heal."

Anonymous said...

I have read many of Anne's articles and I have never found her biased in one way or another. I think she does a very nice job of letting the reader draw their own conclusion, as she did with her article on Pine Lake Prep. I enjoyed reading not only her article but many of the interesting comments as a result of the article. As with this article. I have a wondered myself, as a parent of a 3rd grader, if I have the right to say enough to the testing.

Wiley Coyote said...

One stat I would be interested in knowing is how many people who actually subscribe to the Obsever are blocked from posting comments.

It seems Obama's FCC has already infiltrated McClatchy.

Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

Do they plan to put a Government Media Control Officer in The State newsroom?

We can debate posting anonymously, but when free expression is muzzled, whether you write your name or not, we are heading down a very slippery slope.

Liberals boast freedoms, freedom of expression, etc. only if those expressions pass THEIR talking points.

Anonymous said...

it's interesting that charters seem to enter the discussion with regards to education. While I am am not a fan of charter schools as a whole, I do undertsnd they do serve a purpose for some. I am more concerned with all of this standardized testing. I have a third grade child and whether he moves to the 4th grade all hinges on one test, not his grades, but one test. Also, have any of you seen how much this is costing our state, I believe I read that on average,it cost $29 per student per test. Not to mention that our teachers end up spending far too much time teaching to take tests rather than teaching the subject matter. I would much rather our teachers spend their time teaching and inspiring our kids to learn.

Wiley Coyote said...

Now back to our regularly schedules "Teachers & Testing" program.

Has anyone looked at the data?

Point #6:

6. Teachers contribute to the academic success of students.

West Charlotte has 32.8% of it's teachers that did not meet Expected growth.

West Meck had 48.4% that did not meet Expected Growth.

Providence had 35.4% who did not meet Expected Growth.

Shamrock Gardens is very puzzling. There were no teachers evaluated for Did Not Meet Expected Growth, only 4 counted for Expected Growth and 1 for Exceeds Expected Growth.

What happened to the other teachers being evaluated?

If you look at percentages, what do they really mean? Is it a percentage of the number evalauated and not a percentage of the total teacher popluation by school?

Some could look at West Meck having nearly 50% of its teachers not meeting Expected growth and use that as a need for more testing to determine teacher effectiveness.

This is the disclaimer: All teachers in North Carolina receive a rating for Standard 6. For some teachers, however, this rating is populated with school-level growth and not data from the performance of the individual teacher’s students. For the 2012-13 school year, we do not include ratings for teachers with school-level growth measures. The number of teachers in the count for Standard 6 represents only those teachers with individual estimates of student growth.

Then why is this data even collected???

It's like listening to the drug contradictions on a TV commercial.

Pamela Grundy said...

Wiley, much will be revealed if you read Ann's article about the scores in the regular paper. The Shamrock ratings to which you refer are the value-added "growth" ratings calculated by the state from state test scores. As Ann notes, in elementary school only fourth and fifth grade teachers have those numbers. Shamrock is a small school, with three fourth grade and three fifth grade classes. So only teachers who taught those classes an entire year VAM numbers. They don't tell you much at all, good or bad, about the school as a whole.

Shelly said...

I am a teacher and this is bogus. I am one of the surpassed expected growth. But I work at a school where my children come well fed, rested and loved. It is so unfair to judge teachers or school at this rate. Why are teachers who deal with poverty, hunger, basic needs needed being put up against those of us that do not have this issue? It is wrong!

Pamela Grundy said...

"have VAM numbers," that is

Shamash said...

I would think that just about everyone agrees that there is too much standardized testing.

Is anyone actually in favor of it?

By this time, it should be about as popular as cancer.

Three annual MAP tests are enough for us to judge our own "adequate yearly progress".

Plus they are nationally normed, not state or regional.

1. As far as SAS and the EVAAS goes...

Everyone should read SAS's own critiques and responses to critiques to see what they actually measure and don't measure with the EVAAS.

2. And as for the teacher effectiveness ratings...

I have to wonder about this one:

Standard 6. Teachers contribute to the academic success of students.

I'm fairly sure it comes from the EVAAS, but either way....

HOW do they filter out parental contributions?

That seems to be missing in all discussions of the models I've seen.

I mean, my kid consistently scores a few grades above grade level.

As an experiment, we let him "coast" for a few months and he didn't improve on his MAP tests, in fact he regressed a bit towards his second grade scores.

Does anyone SERIOUSLY think that state or nationally standardized tests and models could distinguish between what WE did at home and what the TEACHER did at school?

Basically, since we know what the TEACHER teaches (the standard curriculum) and what WE teach (apparently two years more advanced), we know.

The teacher has ZERO influence on our son's "growth" in Math.

That's ZERO. ZERO.

Because she is teaching at least two years below what he already knows...

So if we, as parents, decide to slack off a semester, then our kid doesn't progress and the teacher gets blamed?


We are no longer held responsible for our child's failure.

Utopia in education has arrived...

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with what this teacher is saying. In many instances, a school is a reflection of the community in which it serves and not so much the school itself. I do not wish to dimish the role of a great teacher, however I think we should understand there are many factors beyond the control of the teacher/school. While I am not a teacher, it stands to reason that a more affluent kid with involved parents would be much less of a challenge than a poor kid without supportive parents.

Shamash said...


"Why are teachers who deal with poverty, hunger, basic needs needed being put up against those of us that do not have this issue?"

Your comment is exactly why I suggested that people read what SAS itself has to say about criticism of its EVAAS system to measure "growth".

In it, you will see statements such as this:

"SES and demographic covariates add little information beyond that contained in the covariance of test scores".

Now, the paper goes into more detail, but basically, to de-geekify this, it means that once you put those kids in school, their growth depends on the school (and not the home environment).

So they don't really care about that.

Because they say it doesn't affect growth.

And it will all come out in the wash as the student's testing history is built.

At least as far as any statistical significance goes.

As to whether you actually BELIEVE that or not...

Well, it seems to be more a matter of personal opinion than a statistically valid measure.

Until we get the statistics to back a counterclaim.

But I'd say that if schools with kids of a higher SES consistently show higher teacher ratings, then they need to find a reason.

Maybe it is teacher experience, as they suggest, or maybe something else.

But, either way, it's something to keep an eye on as we collect more data.

Anonymous said...

the disclaimer states ALL teachers get a rating for Standard 6.

If so, post them and not some ambiguous mumbojumbo...


Anonymous said...

Speaking of K-3, these teachers have to assess more than any other teachers on a regular basis. "Reading 3D' data is good data that can assess pretty accurately where a student is reading. It has to be done too often and the software is not very compatible with most of the programs in the state. The product is purchased from a company known as Amplify. Guess who is a big dog at Amplify?
Peter Gorman

Anonymous said...

Hopefully everyone also knows that Peter Gorman is a big dog for Amplify. Amplify owns the K-3 reading assessment software (readin 3D).

Shamash said...

So, in a nutshell...

The big problem I have with this teacher rating thing is that it does NOT account for parental involvement and influence on a student's academic "growth" in either direction.

It's as if the schoolhouse is the be-all and end-all of all education in the world.

Which is WHY our whole educational system is in the crapper.

(In my less than humble opinion, of course.)

The fact that this multivariate "growth" model was originally developed by a guy who analyzed the development of cattle exposes an inherent weakness (or two).

People are not cows.

Education is not body weight.

We have things called "cultures" and "parents" which influence a child's academic "growth" as much as their feedstock.

And those are not being measured.

In fact, they appear to be "assumed out of existence" in the model.

I'm not sure I'm buying that.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I appreciate your investigative work, balancing viewpoints, and anonymous posting.

Johnny < insert excuse > as to why he did poorly on the exam.

Where excuse may be one of:
- Had to make the winning goal in that game
- Had to broker a deal for world peace in the middle east
- Does not do well on multiple choice tests
- Cannot take a test that lasts longer than 30 minutes
- Teacher did not agree with CMS on prerequisites, thus is allowing students who did not take the teachers prerequisites are allowed to fall behind.
- Teacher was missing for 3 weeks and substitute did not teach.
- Was sick for 2 weeks
- Had to attend 2 weeks of out of state tournaments for their teams

Teachers cannot be rated on a student because < insert excuse >:

Where excuse is one of:
- Can't control students behavior
- Can't control students attendance
- Can't control students home life

So basically, no one is happy about testing because no one is willing to do anything about the results.

Like the last release of data this can be useful, but with a healthy dose of assumptions. And ensuring everyone understands the assumptions is an uphill task.

Shamash said...

"So basically, no one is happy about testing because no one is willing to do anything about the results."

Not true. I'm willing to do something about the results.

And I do.

So my kids score well above the required scores.

What I'm NOT interested in is having my kid sit through dumbed-down, boring classes and wasted time on more tests just because OTHER parents don't do their jobs.

Every other parent should help educate their kids as well.

But they don't.

So we have all this measuring crap to see if we can "solve" the "gap" problems.

If Johnny can't pass tests, it's ultimately the parent's responsibility to address the problem.

The other alternative to ensure "success" is for the state to raise the child.

Nothing less will be effective for many of these kids, given the lack of involvement from their parents combined with their lack of motivation.

Teachers and schools cannot fix everything wrong in their lives.

So, either we start farming kids out to state-run "homes" (where their "progress" can be measured like cattle) or accept that until parents take the education bull by the horns it isn't likely to improve.

I don't like excessive testing because I KNOW my kids are doing fine based on just a few tests.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, if anyone thinks teachers or teaching has gotten worse over the years, that would be a very naive thought. In addition, it is my opinion that there are segments of children who are smarter than those of yesteryear. Kids are taking higher math at younger ages. There are more AP and honors courses now than there were twenty years ago. Teachers haven't changed. Cultures have changed. Values have changed. Society has changed. Until the VAM (Value-Added Model) can realistically quantify qualitative metrics with reasonable validity, it should be taken with a grain of salt and have little relevance in statistical measurement of evaluations.

Anonymous said...

"...I know my kids are doing fine..." Compared to to what? Compared to Wake? Compared to NYC Schools? There is no reference point for the measure. I envy you if you are current on Calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology to know your children are doing fine before the AP exam. And this is where we were in the '80's. Students were getting these awesome grades, accepted into challenging college programs, and all of a sudden failing. Come to find out that education wasn't so great after all. Or going into AP exams and coming out with 1 and 2's, yet have A's in the class for both semesters.

Since we Wayne's World time machined back to the '80's. The Breakfast Club archetypes still exist as they did back then. Little has changed.

People are not afraid of the test, but the results of the testing.

Anonymous said...

While I don't always agree with you, I do enjoy reading your thoughts on the topic of education. One of the views where we differ is the impact of poverty. I began to look at poverty in a different way with regards to education especially after listening to Dr. lawrence D. Bobo. He describes poverty in terms that I had not previously understood. I tend to agree with him to a degree, he feels that to expect a teacher, by themselves, to be able to overcome the effects of poverty on a child is absurd. I also agree with you in that it is not poverty itself that is the issue, but the culture of some of those in poverty.

Shamash said...

Well, since my kids are in elementary school, they aren't worried about AP exams just yet.

And since so much of the testing is focused on third grade reading, I feel pretty safe in saying my kids are doing just fine.

I know the pros and cons of testing and what they can and cannot measure and take it all with a grain of salt.

But, tests are here to stay from what I can tell, so we might as well get used to them.

My reference point is MAP testing and what I've seen of the international curriculum (at their level) in places like China, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Grades in the US don't mean squat to me. But I make sure my kid still gets good grades anyway.

Because I know he can.

I use Singapore Math books to teach my son math and he is ahead by that curriculum as well.

My 4-yo can already read simple books and my 3rd grader is scoring about 5th-6th grade on MAP tests.

Of course high school (and perhaps some middle school) is another matter.

And that is where I'd like to see more money, effort, and higher skilled teachers WITH DEGREES IN THE SUBECTS THEY TEACH doing the teaching.

A lot of things can be learned by first learning to read well and then reading (History, English, Social Studies, etc., etc.)

And while I probably CAN teach my kids math through Calculus, I do not have a fully equipped lab in my home for Biology or Chemistry.

That is when we will become more dependent on schools.

But, by then, who knows where we will be and what schools they will attend.

We have friends who have moved to Singapore, for example. And we could be over there as well for all we know.

Shamash said...

Anon 3:11pm.

I'll check out DeBobo to see what he says.

Again, since I grew up somewhat poor, I think I know the terrain a little.

Sure, not REAL poor like someone in Somalia or Nepal or living in a dump in the Philippines, but definitely near the bottom of the FRL crowd by US standards (probably an "F" rather than an "R").

Poor enough that I used to think the nearby "projects" looked like pretty nice housing.

And what I saw in school was more of an issue with students and parents than teachers. Even though I had a few not-so-great teachers, they were still able to teach the students who wanted to learn. Especially in elementary school.

I don't think teachers can save all the kids, either. Especially if they and their parents don't try or care.

Teaching a year in China (along with other experiences) also influenced my views on education and poverty .

I think our reaction to poverty is largely cultural.

The fact that our "poor" don't do well has as much to do with their attitudes as it does their actual poverty.

I find this idea hard to shake when I look at how the rest of the world views education when faced with poverty.

Some of my smartest students were kids whose parents rode them to school on rickety old bicycles.

And not only the ones who pulled up in BMW's.

The Politically Correct crowd get themselves all wrapped up in things like "invisible white privilege", but they ignore the equally powerful "invisible US privilege".

Just being here offers advantages most of the world can only dream of.

And yet, so many people here squander THAT privilege.

Ettolrahc said...

Someone said that education was better today than it was a while back.

I love how folks go to an historic house and look out the windows being distorted thinking we make glass better today than they did back then.

Sad how some folks have the illusion of knowledge.

Shamash said...

Anon 3:11pm.

I looked for poverty and education topics by Bobo and didn't find much, but...

I found this discussion with Lawrence D. Bobo:

Well, can't say I'm particularly swayed by this argument, either.

Because it's not just the "poor" blacks who are underperforming.

If you look at black education gaps, you will find that even middle-class blacks (who have presumably avoided poverty) STILL score LOWER (on NAEP tests) than lower income whites.

So, while crushing poverty may be crushing those blacks actually IN poverty, it doesn't explain why blacks in the middle class aren't doing better, either.

So something else is at work, too.

But I guess that's where "racism" kicks in and the professional race-baiters take over from the professional poverty-pimps.

All I can say, is:



And I've already posted information disproving Diane Ravitch's claim about "higher poverty" in the US.

Note that Ravitch only talks about Japan, Korea, and Finland, and excludes the HIGHER poverty countries like Vietnam, Singapore, and various other Asian countries as examples.

How convenient for her to cherry pick a few countries like that instead of looking at the whole OECD group (especially countries with MUCH LARGER percentages of poor than the US) to see how they do.

And, they do just fine compared to the US.

No need to find the poor in Japan or Finland when there are so many more in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Estonia, etc., etc.

So that makes HER argument BS.

And she even gets Finland, Japan, and Korea WRONG according to the OECD data.



Maybe you have a better example of Bobo's views. This was all I found on the subject so far.

Shamash said...


I'm not sure if education was better long ago.

But, we DO make better glass than they did in those historic houses.

At least the glass thickness is more consistent.

Despite rumors to the contrary, glass is NOT a liquid and those ripples don't occur due to gravity as many think.

And probably as we were taught in school just a few decades ago.

(Or at least as I remember being taught by some of the teachers I had...)

Like Lady Gaga, they were made that way..

Ettolrahc said...

I will bet you are the only person who did any research.

The same with the claims made by the folks on here.

No one is in the business of verification anymore.

Even those who we assume are doing it for us.

Thanks for helping out my little exercise.

Shamash said...


I'm getting worried that I MAY need to teach my kids HS Biology, Chemistry and Physics in addition to Calculus.

So I'm honing up on my "research" skills in the physical sciences as well.

(Remember, though, that I'm still flying blind without an Education degree...)

Ettolrahc said...

I will bet you will do a superior job if they attend CMS.

Most folks are not aware that of the close to 1100 CMS graduates which applied to CPCC, over 95 percent of them had to have remedial courses.

Now why is that not something that is reported?

Shamash said...


Well, I know that's been brought up in these blog comments before.

I think Wiley was among the first to mention it (or a similar high number).

Things like that DO bother me, but I suspect that US standards are low all around, not just CMS.

I just saw what a Kindergartener from China was studying (just a few weeks ago) as "homework" while she was on her New Years break.

(Yes, they even study on break.)


Ettolrahc said...

I am a volunteer at CMS and have had Asian parents come up to me in stores because their children mentioned to them that I helped them in class.

They will thank me, and tell what their child is doing today, with such pride.

I am glad to see folks who have such a vested interest in their children.

In fact it is normally Asian Parents who often come to the school to make sure their children are keep up with their studies.

And often those Asian Children are blowing the top end off the Bell Curve in class.

Ettolrahc said...

What would be great if we heard a lot of stories about parents who do it right and are more vested, so those who are not could be inspired?

And how Teachers may need more money, but with the community stepping up offering low cost auto repairs, day care, elder care and things of that nature.

Or Parents who could have Teachers and their families over at least once a year for dinner to talk about how things are going.

Churches in communities pledging to provide bus service and lunches to children who wish to attend schools outside the neighborhood in which they live.

Imagine those stories in the paper showing us ways to make things better.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that people confuse poverty with character and accepting responsibility. I have had students who did not have basic needs, but they came from backgrounds where good character, manners, and doing the right thing were valued, and they didn't let poverty get in their way or use it as an excuse for not getting an education.

Shamash, if your child's teacher is teaching two years below grade level to all the students in the class while some are testing above grade level, he/she is not using their data properly. Part of the purpose of MAPS testing is to identify what skills students have mastered and what they have not mastered. Ask the teacher where your child falls in the Descartes and how he/she is differentiating instruction to meet the needs of ALL students in the class.

Shamash said...

Best I can tell, his teacher teaches at grade level, not below.

But I tend to teach him what makes sense at the time.

For example, we went over Pythagorean's theorem when discussing areas of squares and triangles.

(I know I'm a bad boy).

I don't expect his 3rd grade teacher to do this.

But I'll check into that Descartes stuff.

(It sounds so mathematical...)

Anonymous said...

Holy moly, Wiley! I read your comment about the FCC newsroom infiltrators while I was at the school board retreat and thought "What is he talking about? That sounds crazy." Then I forgot about it until I read this morning's editorial and realized it WAS crazy, but true. Fortunately, this plan has also been spiked.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to read this, especially folks like Wiley.

Shamash said...

Yes. The statistical paradox they uncovered is a version of Simpson's paradox.

And it is a valid criticism of "A Nation At Risk" for missing that.

BUT touting our INTERNAL "progress" (of ourselves measured against ourselves over time) doesn't give the whole picture of education in the US.

So our internal tests improving don't mean much.

It's like saying the Jamaican Bobsled team gets better each Olympics or that each year Chrysler builds better cars.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is DOING MUCH BETTER.

The real competition is OUTSIDE the US. And that is still where we are mediocre.

Shamash said...

Anon 9:45am.

Another fallacy to look for often occurs in what I call the "poverty excuse".

In that, someone typically says that the rest of the world somehow doesn't have to consider "poverty" like the US does in its test scores.

And then they'll show how "our" people perform just as well as other countries when we control our population for poverty.

All while NOT controlling the other country for poverty, but including their entire population as if THEIR poverty did not matter.

So it's our rich against their rich AND poor, and suddenly we look OK because WE have adjusted OUR SCORES (and OUR scores only) for "poverty".

So, they'll compare a 580 from our richest schools to a 620 from Finland and say "See, we're not so bad after all". We would actually be third or fourth.

And they conveniently exclude Asian countries from the comparison (except maybe Japan or Korea, but never Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, or even Vietnam).

I've seen this SO MANY times that it is amazing to me people get away with it.

But they do. Including Diane Ravitch.

Throwing out disconfirming evidence is one way to "prove" your point.

Provided everyone already agrees with it and you ARE NOT interested in the truth.

That and assuming that "poverty" in the US is the same as "poverty" in a place like Vietnam is just plain wrong.

Vietnam claims to have less "poverty" than the US.

But THAT is by VIETNAMESE standards.

We don't even HAVE the kind of poverty that VIETNAM calls poverty.

That's why the US doesn't even APPEAR in most lists of "world poverty".

We're WAY above that $1-$2 a day that applies to so much of the rest of the world.

All "poverty" is NOT equal. Our people in "poverty" live much better than people in "poverty" in Vietnam.

Rich countries like the US have a much more generous definition of poverty.

Anonymous said...

Asians also have incredibly high suicide rates. South Korea, Japan, and China (although China fudges their numbers - big surprise!) are always in the top ten every years.

Seems like a culture historically known for balance (ying/yang) doesn't practice what it preaches.

Shamash said...
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