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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Today's scorecard on our schools: the news ain't pretty & the diagnosis bizarre

We have had nine long years during which NY state and city education officials have relentlessly focused on  high stakes testing, with school closings, grade retention, and teacher bonuses all linked to test scores.  So according to data released today, what have been the results?

So what do we need, according to NY education officials ?  Better tests.  Read it and weep.


jjlnyc said...

The Chancellor has just published a document called "Raising the Bar"

He says "The Department is raising expectations for teaching and learning." And in his "Partnering with Parents" speech, he believes DOE needs to "Raise the Bar on families and parents." [As if most of us aren't already doing all we can when we can....]

BUT - Walcott and others have mentioned many many times that despite the improvements "demonstrated" in the state of our schools (using whatever statistics happen to work at the moment)we are still lacking in many key areas.

For example, turning once more to his "Partnering with Parents" speech, he mentions that "Too few students are graduating HS prepared for college" and that they have to take remedial courses upon entering college. This is not the first time this has been espoused.

I am curious - was the previous expectation that kids would graduate HS unprepared for college? I highly doubt ANYone would ever confess to that. Thus, graduating HS prepared for college is a "bar height" that still needs to be accomplished.

As a former competitive High-jump athlete for my high school,I am quite familiar with the actual practice of raising the bar from whence the too-oft used analogy arises. Basically, when you can get over The Bar consistently at one height, then you raise the bar to the next level to challenge yourself. But if you are not yet able to clear say a six-foot bar, then to attempt a 6'9" bar is simply setting yourself up for failure.

If the students, staff, parents, schools etc, are not yet meeting current expectations, by raising those expectations it seems like we are similarly setting most everyone up for failure....

Leonie Haimson said...

Great comment; it is magical thinking on the part of DOE that raising the bar will in itself lead to greater achievement, when the majority of students are not meeting grade level expectations right now.

This is one of the big claims behind the Common Core. As you point out, in the high jump and in most fields of endeavor, you raise the bar only when the subject has successfully scaled the previous height.

Unfortunately this is one of the BS lines that is widely accepted in education policy circles and corporate reform.