Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ed Beat: Raving; Semi-Breaking Scandal; Another "Fix" In; The Common Corpse

Mini-Rave! From "Dr. Woody'z Little Known Facts from the Archives of Educational Statistics":
This usually comes as a grave shock to the system of the drill-n-skill, test-score mavens: In the "science" of psychometry--intelligence testing, in plain terms--there is NO statistically significant difference between IQ scores between 85 and IQ 115.
The "mean" is 100, and one Standard Deviation--about 15 points--in either direction can MORE easily be, MORE LIKELY (probabilistically )to be, a matter of chance than of superior or inferior aptitude. Almost 70% of all 'test scores' will fall between those points. 
The first Standard Deviation (on both sides of the Mean) accounts for about 68% of all variance. The next, on both sides account for another 28%. That's a total of 96% of ALL variance inside the first TWO Std. Devs. Third and beyond: only 4%, top and bottom (and turtles all the way down).
The best book ever written about the 'science' of psychometry, its history, and its manifold and manifest failings, foibles, and fabulists is Stephen J. Gould's The Mismeasure of Man.
If you only ever read one book about the rat-trap and cess-pool of educational statistics, it should be this one.This is the book which answered--hell, it demolished--the controversial, 1994 book, The Bell Curve, a decade before the latter was written.

Hot Off the Presses:  According top published reports, administrators in a highly-publicized, much-admired CorpoRat-private/charter school ordered teachers to delete failing grades from reports of student progress in order to bolster the claims by the school of its superiority, effectiveness, and efficiency.
No, really.
A for-profit school that was hyped by Republican lawmakers as a solution to Tennessee’s education problems recently admitted deleting bad grades to “more accurately recognize students’ current progress.”
A December email obtained by WTVF showed that Tennessee Virtual Academy’s vice principal instructed middle school teachers to delete “failing grades” from October and September.
“After … looking at so many failing grades, we need to make some changes before the holidays,” the email says, adding that each teacher needed to “take out the October and September progress [reports]; delete it so that all that is showing is November progress.”
“If you have given an assignment and most of your students failed that assignment, then you need to take that grade out.”Raw Story (http://s.tt/1zHPg)
I, for one, am SHOCKED. SHOCKED, I tell you!


CorpoRat Closures? In Philadelphia, school officials are turning over authority to close "non-performing" schools--invariably in poor and marginalized neighborhood--over to a private corporation, and infuriating many parents. At least 15,000 students in 44 schools city-wide will be affected by the decision, according to reports on the blog, TruthOut.
 Overall, 44 schools will be affected by the shakeup: Of the 37 to be closed, three will relocate by merging with other Philadelphia schools. Beyond this, seven other schools will face major restructuring – i.e., though these school programs will remain intact, the schools themselves will be uprooted and moved to other buildings, merged with other schools, and/or forced to add or subtract grade levels. About 15,000 students will be affected by the proposed changes. And though official numbers have not been released, hundreds of teacher and staff layoffs are also expected.
There is nothing democratic about how this happened to the City of Brotherly Love. Though officials gave lip service to the idea of “parental empowerment” through “school choice,” in the end, parents had no role in deciding what policies would be enforced. Everything was outsourced. As a Pew study reports, the city consulted with “URS Corp., a California-based engineering design firm, and DeJong-Richter, an Ohio-based company that specializes in school-closing issues” to come to its final consensus. Though town hall meetings were organized between 2010 and 2012 to hear citizen concerns, the closures, relocations and reconfigurations  were ultimately decided by the consulting firms, with no serious input from locals.
In other words, the fix was in, from the start, and the kabuki of "community inbolvement" only served to cloak the design.
The Stinking Cor(ps)e: To start a jolly donnybrook, praise the "Common Core Standards" in a room full of teachers with more than five years experience.
The Common Core Standards are the fruit of yet another effort by the "one-size-fits-all" education reformers to "regularize instruction, nationally," in pursuit of higher test scores--which are wrongly hyped as indices of improved student "achievement."
These efforts (most stimulated originally by some ALEC-affiliated organizations like the Gates Foundation) have some harsh critics, not only of the standards themselves, but also of the way they were forced onto State Boards of Education.
One such former State Superintendent is Robert Scott, of Texas, who unleashed a scathing critique of the process recently:
My experience with the Common Core actually started when I was asked to sign on to them before they were written. … I was told I needed to sign a letter agreeing to the Common Core, and I asked if I might read them first, which is, I think, appropriate.  I was told they hadn’t been written, but they still wanted my signature on the letter. And I said, ‘That’s absurd; first of all, I don’t have the legal authority to do that because our [Texas] law requires our elected state board of education to adopt curriculum standards with the direct input of Texas teachers, parents  and business. So adopting something that was written behind closed doors in another state would not meet my state law.’ … I said, ‘Let me take a wait-and-see approach.‘ If something remarkable was in there that I found that we did not have in ours that I would work with our board … and try to incorporate into our state curriculum …
Scott excoriated the backers of the Standards for lacking candor and transparency.

This. - vince

At last report, the scrappy members of the Seattle Teachers Union are still holding firm and gaining support in their District and elsewhere against administering as meaningless, functionless, but "required" State assessment exam, the "MAP." Marchant!

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