Report: U.S. Again Lags Behind In Math And Science Scores

220px-ClassroomAs we continue to gush billions of dollars for Afghanistan and Iraq as well as giving $100 million buildings to Israel, our school system continues to decline and our student school continue to rank below a long list of other countries. The most recent reports of fourth and eighth graders shows the United States lagging behind Asian and European countries in math and science. Nevertheless, we will continue to give billions to wealthy countries like Israel with better schools and increasingly hostile countries like Pakistan and Egypt. The real threat to this country is the collapsing educational system and erosion of our competitive labor force.


The two new reports, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, show South Korea and Singapore leading in science in the fourth grade and Singapore and Taiwan leading in the eighth grade. The U.S. ranked 11th in fourth-grade math and 9th in eighth grade math. We ranked 7th in fourth grade science and 10th in eighth-grade science.

I am less worried about the ranking as I am with the fact that only 7 percent of students reached the advanced level in eighth-grade math compared to 48 percent of eighth graders in Singapore and 47 percent of eighth graders in South Korea.

I have been admittedly harping on this issue for years. I fail to understand how our leaders can get away with the lack of priority shown toward education which plays directly into our competitiveness in the world market.

Source: New York Times

119 thoughts on “Report: U.S. Again Lags Behind In Math And Science Scores

  1. I suppose 100,000 equals the cost of one dumb bomb is all you need to know…… The rest is elementary….

  2. It’s not a priority because it involves a goal that might not realized before the next election cycle and because students do not immediately provide elected officials with campaign contributions or other renumerations the pols crave. That’s my cynical, overly simplistic reason.

    The best answer I can provide is “I don’t know” it makes no sense from a pragmatic approach that our pols neglect what is so obviously important but then again so many on the federal level are as beneficial to the public as leeches. This cynicism is becoming a problem.

    I have said before this is one example where a person cannot afford to sit idle while the system continues to be under-funded and broken. They have to take charge for their own or the childrens’ education. It shouldn’t have to be that way but it is.

  3. Texas with its already poorly performing public schools cut the education budget by 4.5 billion to in order to provide more money for corporate welfare.

  4. “In fiscal 1989, the last year that President Reagan was in office, the U.S. Education Department spent $21.468 billion, according to OMB. Even adjusted for inflation, that would only be $39.664 billion this year. That means, that since 1989 the Department of Education spending has grown by almost 150 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars (from $39.664 in 2012 dollars to $98.467 in 2012 dollars).” The feds actually seems to be spending more but not getting results.

  5. It would be interesting to see the breakdown of the numbers by race and gender to see at what age do women and African-Americans are not encouraged to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathmatics) careers. Some studies state that this lack of encouragement begins in the elementary schools. Furthermore, our educational system refuses to change by not doing the following: connecting the right teaching style(s) to students learning styles. Evidence shows that women and minorities learn differently than white males, and that the current teaching styles used in our schools hinders learning amongts not only women and minorirites, but white male students are also finding it difficult to learn with the archaic teaching styles. Finally, our government purposely created an educational system in which the low-income students are in poorly funded schools, while most middle and upper-income students enjoy the best schools, thanks to the property tax system for funding education. Makes you wonder if all this is done to keep certain socio-economic class structures in place?

  6. How else to create a work force for poverty level wages?

    In those countries that score better than the US, is education compulsory or is it just for the children of the well off?

    SM, How much of the federal dollars are going to charter and religious schools? not they’re doing a better job.

  7. I forgot to add class size as another example of encouraging failure amongst our K-12 students. According to the NCES (national center for educational statistics), effective learning occurs when the student to teacher ratio is no higher than 10:1. In my state of missouri, as in most states, it is legal to have at the most 25-26 students in one class! No wonder the national high school graduation rate is a dismal 55%.

  8. money may not be the only issue but it is a very large issue. I heard conservatives running around this fall saying we spend twice as much per student now as we did in 1979. The problem is that inflation makes a dollar just 25% of what it was in 1979 so in terms of real dollars we are spending half of what we did per student. Its not just kids who can’t do math politicians can’t do present value calculations either.

    Add the burden placed on schools by ADA that has never been funded by Congress and you have a recipe for damaging schools. The elementary school my kids went to was designed for 25 kids per room but held 30-32 then & are now at 35-36. Even in ideal circumstances 30 kids are too many for one teacher but jammed together it is impossible.

    People talk about one-room school houses and how hard it must have been to teach kids in so many different grades etc. But look at the photos! There are never more than 10-15 kids and quite often less in those old schools. But that would cost money & heaven forfend the government spend a dime unless I personally am in line for 15 cents

  9. There needs to be a cultural sea change and there’s very little the government can do about that. The students and far too many parents have a horrible attitude about education. There was an article in the Chicago papers lasts week about a program to give $25 gift certificates to parents to get them to come to parent teacher conferences. Once you have to resort to that you’ve already failed. The last study I read along these lines also noted our students were #1 in self confidence. I suspect we’re still near the top in that metric.

  10. What Frankly said! There are multiple issues that impact performance in school and one that gets glossed over sometimes is the home life of the student, or lack thereof.

  11. JT:

    I have been admittedly harping on this issue for years. I fail to understand how our leaders can get away with the lack of priority shown toward education which plays directly into our competitiveness in the world market.

    Which is one more clue that it may be a design rather than being a failing.

  12. I agree that teacher:student rations have a lot to do with quality of performance. So does parent involvement. With so many parents having to work more than one job it’s hard to spend much time with the kids and attend parent-teacher conferences. And how would a teacher manage in one evening or half day dealing with all parents should they all decide to show up. 30-35 students for the elementary grades but possibly hundreds in middle and high school.

    Teaching to tests dumbs down critical thinking abilities in students.

    Whether or not are education system is in trouble depends on what you want out of it. If you’re looking for profits b/c your in the “education” business or if you need cheap workers, then it’s in good shape. If you’re looking for qualified, thinking workers, then it’s in poor shape. If you’re looking for philosophers and really high end thinkers, it’s in abysmal shape.

  13. I wonder how well the decline in public education correlates with the rise in the prison population. Our justice system has become too punitive and as a result of this, more money has to be allocated to putting people in prison, even as crime rates have fallen for each of the last 18 years.

  14. Excerpt from the New York Times article:

    The test designers included questionnaires for parents about preparation before formal schooling. Ina V. S. Mullis, an executive director of the International Study Center, said that students whose parents reported singing or playing number games as well as reading aloud with their children early in life scored higher on their fourth-grade tests than those whose parents who did not report such activities. Similarly, students who had attended preschool performed better.

    “What’s remarkable is that in all the countries, this concept of an early start is there over and over again,” said Michael O. Martin, the other executive director of the center. “You can get the early childhood experience in a variety of ways, but it’s important you get it.”

    *****

    From my neck of the woods–Massachusetts:

    Mass. pupils near the top in math and science
    State 8th graders lead peers in most nations; a boost for prospects in world marketplace
    By James Vaznis | Globe Staff
    December 11, 2012
    http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/12/11/mass-garners-high-marks-key-international-exam/oR1K54pAj9GbMNK6MT0LzM/story.html

    Excerpt;
    Massachusetts eighth-graders outperformed most countries on a highly regarded international math and science exam, according to results being released Tuesday, offering fresh evidence that the state’s educational system rivals academically powerful ­nations around the globe.

    In the science part of the test, only Singapore outscored Massachusetts eighth-graders. In math, Massachusetts trailed only South Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Japan; 63 countries took the test.

    *****

    Eighth Grade Math Scores
    United States: 509
    Massachusetts: 561

    Eighth Grade Science Scores
    United States: 525
    Massachusetts: 567

  15. The U.S. performed above average on international standardized tests in elementary and middle school math, science and reading, according to reports released Tuesday. But experts said the rankings, along with similar exams that test students at later ages, show a fundamental problem in America’s education system: students tend to perform worse as they age.

    “When we start looking at our older students, we see less improvement over time,” said Jack Buckley, who leads the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. That trend holds true across several exams.

    The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement’s PIRLS and TIMSS 2011 exams, released Tuesday, measure reading in fourth grade, and math and reading at fourth grade and eighth grade respectively. Across the board, East Asian countries occupied the upper ranks in the comparison of more than 60 world education systems, far outperforming the U.S.. Because the tests measure different groups of students from year to year, the results are best used as snapshots of performance relative to other countries at one point in time. Overall, the U.S. ranked sixth in fourth-grade reading, ninth in fourth-grade math, 12th in eighth-grade math, seventh in fourth-grade science and 13th in eighth-grade science.

    U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the U.S. scores encouraging, but described older students’ performance as “unacceptable.” ” Huffington Post

  16. Once again our priorities are screed. Sanity consists of the ability to evaluate a relative importances in present time.

  17. AY,
    the teachers have to deal with life issues almost as much as they deal with learning issues. The higher class sizes that are an outgrowth of the misguided austerity cuts made to state budgets as they lost money from the Feds. Internationally, teachers are revered and honored. Here in this country the Teachers are attacked as overpaid and union stooges. If we allow our teachers to actually teach a reasonable number of students, we will do fine in these snapshot comparisons. The teacher should be considered the most important job in our society. Without their efforts and dedication, we all fail.
    Now, if they compared the math scores during my day, I would have really brought down my schools average! :)

  18. Our statis from no. 1 to no. 17. Why? Because
    our nation is filling up with mexicans. They have a
    lower I.Q. , the some as blacks.

  19. We need a Congressman/woman to file a Bill to terminate Aid to all foreign countries. Call it the Jimmy Cliff Bill. Then we each push our Congress person to commit. If they dont then we start agitating for an opponent in the next election. We can get if we really want. We must try, try, try and try. Well succeed at last.
    We gotta do the Jimmy Cliff with the Fiscal Cliff. Any congress person who pronounces that physical needs to be shot. Notice how many cannot pronounce Fiscal?

  20. Early childhood education is of great import–as is parent involvement in the education of their children. After all, parents are their children’s first teachers. Children usually arrive at public school at the age of five or six. By then, they should know their ABCs, numbers, colors, nursery rhymes. They should be read to every day–even when they are infants.

  21. rafflaw, If teachers want to be considered the most important career in our society they need to stop being union rats ala Teamsters. If you want to be treated as a professional then act as one. The profession went downhill ever since unionization. Yes their are other societal factors over which teachers have no control, however teachers have control over their ranks and they ignore it. But they loooove to point the finger @ others. Great role model for kids..”Not my fault!”

  22. I wonder if there is poverty in South Korea, Taiwan, etc. I guaruntee you they spend a helluva lot less per student.

  23. nick,

    I don’t know if other countries like South Korea educate ALL children–as we do in this country. When I visited schools in China in 1994–and I only observed a small sampling–I didn’t see any of the special needs students (children with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome) that were mainstreamed into the classrooms in my elementary school.

    Teachers are not union rats. Maybe you knew some. That doesn’t mean that all or the great majority of teachers are.

  24. We need to spend more money on school busing instead of improving the schools, we need to spend more money on the lunch programs so the kids can improve their food fight techniques and spend more money on administration so they can dream up new ways to use the budget up for anything but teaching.

  25. Elaine, I know. Male/female, light/shadow. You’re the motherering, comforting, I’m the no excuses, tough love. The profession needs a lot of yang right now. The “We’re trying our best” is simply not working.

  26. nick,

    I don’t think you understand me. I am yin and yang all rolled into one entity. I think that the best teachers are a combination of the two complementary forces. They’re caring and supportive. They are also demanding and have high expectations of their students.

  27. Elaine, We’ve gone over this before. I believe you were a good teacher. I’m not talking about you or I. I’m talking about the profession and what the profession needs. Our President, our Secretary of Education, education supporters like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and just regular parents see it. You’re way too entrenched. And, being entrenched you and too many people like you have a bunker mentality. Teachers MUST admit THEIR culpability in the failure of our educational system. Any step in recovery has to start w/ that important admission. You don’t see it, I know that.

  28. Elaine, when you say “I don’t know if other countries like South Korea educate ALL children–as we do in this country.”
    are you denying that the US is behind Singapore, South Korea, and many other nations in academic achievement? Or maybe these tests are rigged to favor Asian students, is that the next argument?

    This may be relevant:

    … high schools in South Korea are neither free nor compulsory. However, 97 percent of Korean students do complete high school, according to a 2005 OECD study.

    What does that compare to in the United States? 75 or 80%? Which of these systems comes closer to educating “all” students? The free, mandatory one? Or the voluntary, paid one?

    Teachers unions must be abandoned and students should attend schools of their choice. The current system is a total failure robbing children of choices, quality, and the opportunity to compete with better qualified peers abroad.

  29. nick,

    I responded to your Yin and Yang comment by naming the qualities that I think the best teachers have. Many teachers have those qualities. I know that from my own life experience–and not just from working in one school system. I’ve met teachers from all over the country at conferences and conventions and when I served as a member of a children’s literature and language delegation to China.

    I’d say you’re the one with an entrenched “bunker” mentality. Teachers are bad. Teachers’ unions are evil entities. All schools are failing and need to be reformed.

    There are many good schools in this country that provide their students with a quality education. There are many excellent teachers who are dedicated professionals. You paint all teachers and schools with a broad “negative” brush. You appear to be the type of person would throw the baby out with the bath water in the name of school reform.

  30. puzzling,

    I assume you can read and understand English. I believe my statement was clear. Did I deny anything? Did I suggest the tests were rigged? You sure read a lot into my statement. Sheesh!

  31. What Rafflaw and Elaine said. In addition, Prof. Turley and anyone else who believes these international studies’ purported comparisons between the cited countries, as well as Finland and Russia, with the U.S. needs to read the writings of the late, great Gerald Bracey on this topic.

  32. Elaine M.nick:

    There’s an easy way to prove the case for or against teachers. Let’s take teachers whose students pass the standardized tests with flying colors and give them to the students who fail. Then we’d take the students who fail and let them be taught by the teachers from the class that passes. If the teachers are not the problem, the failing kids will fail again and the successful kids will stay successful.

    Any takers?

  33. How about every school gets the same amount of money? This notion that property taxes should determine school funding is nutty. It entrenches poverty in poor sections of town and entrenches the inequality these students feel every time they go to a well funded school for any event. The rich districts get most of the good teachers eventually because they have the best facilities.

  34. mespo,

    I taught for more than three decades–had many different classes. Some classes tested better than others depending upon the make-up of the group. We put too much reliance on tests these days to determine the academic development of students. I am not anti-testing. I think tests can be valuable tools when they are valid and used in the right way. There are also other ways to assess the educational progress of children. Yet, we put all our educational eggs in the testing basket. I think it is very short-sighted. Instead of spending valuable classroom time prepping students to take high stakes tests, we should be trying to meet their educational needs, to help them develop their individual talents, to give them basic skills and knowledge, and to inspire them to become lifelong learners.

    BTW, do you really think that your idea would be an easy one to implement? Go for It! Maybe Bill and Melinda Gates would be interested in funding your project.

  35. Elaine M:

    Actually I have proposed it to our local school superintendent. I suggested we take 6 math teachers from our math specialty center at our silver medal high school and send them to one of our under-performing high schools. The six teachers at the under-performing high school would come to the specialty center. The superintendent told me the teachers wouldn’t stand for it.

  36. mespo,

    Are you sure the superintendent didn’t think it was a bad idea?

    You have a silver medal high school with competent teachers? I got the impression from you that teachers were lazy and only in education to get a paycheck.

  37. Rockola,

    This one’s for you:

    The Big Tests: What Ends Do They Serve?
    by Gerald Bracey
    November 2009
    http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov09/vol67/num03/The-Big-Tests@-What-Ends-Do-They-Serve%C2%A2.aspx

    Excerpt:
    To measure the quality of our schools, we need more instruction-sensitive measures than NAEP, PISA, or TIMSS.

    I was recently interviewed by the editor of my local paper, the Port Townsend Leader, who expressed a pretty low opinion of tests. His wife teaches 3rd grade in a public school, and he can’t imagine how anyone would think that a test could reveal more information about a child than a teacher collects as a matter of course. I agree.

    In the last 50 years, the United States has descended from viewing tests first as a useful tool, then as a necessity, and finally as the sole instrument needed to evaluate teachers, schools, districts, states, and nations (Bracey, 2009). In a nation where test mania prevails, tests will occupy part of the education landscape until we can dig ourselves out of that 50-year hole. In the meantime, it’s interesting to consider what some of the well-known testing programs measure and what their appropriate (and inappropriate) uses might be. Here I look at three testing programs—one domestic and two international…

    Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

    TIMSS comes to us from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement in The Netherlands, but most of the technical work is conducted at Boston College. It measures selected math and science skills in grades 4 and 8 using short, fact-oriented stems and mostly multiple-choice questions.

    We have been through four rounds of TIMSS: 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. As with PISA, politicians and the public are quick to use TIMSS results to criticize the quality of U.S. schools. In his March 2009 speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, President Obama observed, “In 8th grade math, we’ve fallen to 9th place.” Ninth place was indeed the U.S. rank (among 46 nations) for the 2007 TIMSS administration, but in 1995, the United States ranked 28th out of 41 countries. U.S. scores as well as ranks have actually risen for 8th graders, and they have been stable for 4th graders.

    The TIMSS developers explicitly make a causal connection between high scores and a country’s economic health and claim that “there is almost universal recognition that the effectiveness of a country’s educational system is a key element in establishing competitive advantage in what is an increasingly global economy” (Mullis, Martin, & Foy, 2008). Even if this were true, the question would be, Does TIMSS measure that effectiveness? The answer is no. No test can do that, because no test can measure the many complexities of an “educational system,” much less a test that measures only two subjects. To get some idea of the complexity of an “educational system,” I suggest that readers glance through the 100-plus goals of public education in John Goodlad’s 1979 classic, What Schools Are For.

  38. Students succeed when they know success is expected…from the parents, from the teacher, from society. Education in the US is broken and money cannot fix what apathy can destroy.
    We do not revere intellect. We applaud reality mentality.

  39. Elaine M:

    Actually, we have two silver medal high schools (out of 8 in the state) in our county. Not so surprisingly they are in the most affluent areas If the county and the best teachers want the best facilities.

  40. The myths of standardized testing
    By Valerie Strauss
    4/15/11
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-myths-of-standardized-testing/2011/04/14/AFNxTggD_blog.html

    Are the following statements true or false?

    *Students’ knowledge and skills can be assessed by a sample of content that makes up a 45-question test.

    *High test scores of students at any particular school prove that there is high student achievement and quality teaching at the institution.

    *Punishments or rewards to teachers or students based on test scores motivate them to do better.

    *A standardized test score is a better reflection of student learning any any other form of assessment.

    *If the stakes to a test are high enough, people will work harder and improve their performance to meet the challenge.

    These are common myths of high-stakes standardized tests, which have become the focus of modern school reform and used to evaluate schools, students and, increasingly, teachers.

    Plenty of people believe these to be true, though they are not, as explained in a new book, appropriately called, “The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do,” by Phillip Harris, Bruce M. Smith and Joan Harris.

    The book explains, using a load of research, why high-stakes standardized tests are less objective than many people believe, why they don’t adequately measure student achievement, how the results distort the validity of the assessment system, how these tests “inadvertently” lead young people to become “superficial thinkers,” and much more.

    The easy-to-read book does not only look at what’s wrong with tests but also discusses what “genuine accountability” looks like.

    This is all especially important today as Congress considers whether and how to rewrite the 2002 No Child Left Behind law, the major education of the former Bush administration that ushered in the era of high-stakes testing. Thus far, the Obama administration’s policies have done nothing to change the dynamic, and in some cases, have even encouraged states and school districts to raise the stakes by linking test scores to teachers’ evaluation and pay.

    Here are a few excerpts from the book:

    “As psychometrician Daniel Koretz puts it, scores on a standardized test ‘usually do not provide a direct and complete measure of educational achievement.’ … Tests can measure only a portion of the goals of education, which are necessarily broader and more inclusive than the tests could possibly be…. Here is Gerald Bracey’s list of some of the biggies that we generally don’t even try to use standardized tests to measure:

    creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, integrity

    “Surely these are attributes we all want our children to acquire in some degree. And while not all learning takes place in classrooms, these are real and valuable ‘achievements.’ Shouldn’t schools pursue goals such as these for their students, along with the usual academic goals? Of course, a teacher can’t really teach all of these things from a textbook. But, as Bracey points out, she can model them or talk with students about people who exemplify them. But she has to have enough time left over to do so after getting the kids ready for the standardized test of ‘achievement.’

    “In fact, there are more problems associated with the impact of standardized testing on ‘achievement’ than simply the fact that the technology of the testing cannot efficiently and accurately measure some vitally important attributes that we all want our children to ‘achieve.’ Alfie Kohn put it this way:

    ‘Studies of students of different ages have found a statistical association between students with high scores on standardized tests and relatively shallow thinking….’

    “So by ignoring attributes that they can’t properly assess, standardized tests inadvertently create incentives for students to become superficial thinkers–to seek the quick, easy and obvious answer….”

    “Tests drive instruction. They will continue to do so as long as anyone cares about the scores, and merely publishing the results for each community school in the local newspaper is enough to give the scores weight and cause people to worry about them. So we need to stay alert to the direction in which the tests are driving instruction. We think it is clear that the current frenzy of accountability testing is driving instruction away from long-term projects and investigations whose outcomes aren’t known and whose evaluation depends to some extent on direct human judgment. The outsized emphasis on test scores has driven instruction toward items with one clear, right answer, in an attempt to prepare students for what really counts–the standardized test.

    “You’ll often hear someone say that a good test is one that teachers should be pleased to teach to. But this proposition concerns us. When it comes to whether teaching to the test is a worthy goal, we don’t worry so much about the items on the test…. We think that a far more important issue is almost always overlooked in policy discussions: what’s not on the test.”

    [This passage refers to the deadline written in No Child Left Behind that calls for most students in U.S. public schools to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, a goal that is expected to lead to virtually all schools being labeled failures because of the complex rules associated with meeting it.]

    “Now we have a new federal administration, and it has proposed doing away with the 2014 deadline for proficiency. Surely, that’s a good thing, no? To which we reply, “Yes, but….” The big ‘but’ is that the ‘blueprint’ set out by President Obama and [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan adopts the same approach to accountability as its predecessors did. The 2014 deadline has been replaced with a ‘target’ (they say it’s not an absolute deadline) that by 2020 all students (here we go again with ‘all students’) will be ‘college and career ready.’ But the same misunderstanding of accountability plagues the new proposal. That is, ‘college and career ready’ still relies on annual testing in grades three through eight and once during high school; still relies on rewards for success (i.e., high test scores) and ‘interventions’ for persistent failure (i.e., low test scores), and still fails to address the fundamental social, cultural and familial issues that strongly influence students’ performance. But ‘interventions’ are so much nicer than ‘sanctions,’ don’t you think?”

    “In fact, there are more problems associated with the impact of standardized testing on ‘achievement’ than simply the fact that the technology of the testing cannot efficiently and accurately measure some vitally important attributes that we all want our children to ‘achieve.’ Alfie Kohn put it this way:

    ‘Studies of students of different ages have found a statistical association between students with high scores on standardized tests and relatively shallow thinking….’

    “So by ignoring attributes that they can’t properly assess, standardized tests inadvertently create incentives for students to become superficial thinkers–to seek the quick, easy and obvious answer….”

    “Tests drive instruction. They will continue to do so as long as anyone cares about the scores, and merely publishing the results for each community school in the local newspaper is enough to give the scores weight and cause people to worry about them. So we need to stay alert to the direction in which the tests are driving instruction. We think it is clear that the current frenzy of accountability testing is driving instruction away from long-term projects and investigations whose outcomes aren’t known and whose evaluation depends to some extent on direct human judgment. The outsized emphasis on test scores has driven instruction toward items with one clear, right answer, in an attempt to prepare students for what really counts–the standardized test.

    “You’ll often hear someone say that a good test is one that teachers should be pleased to teach to. But this proposition concerns us. When it comes to whether teaching to the test is a worthy goal, we don’t worry so much about the items on the test…. We think that a far more important issue is almost always overlooked in policy discussions: what’s not on the test.”

    [This passage refers to the deadline written in No Child Left Behind that calls for most students in U.S. public schools to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, a goal that is expected to lead to virtually all schools being labeled failures because of the complex rules associated with meeting it.]

    “Now we have a new federal administration, and it has proposed doing away with the 2014 deadline for proficiency. Surely, that’s a good thing, no? To which we reply, “Yes, but….” The big ‘but’ is that the ‘blueprint’ set out by President Obama and [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan adopts the same approach to accountability as its predecessors did. The 2014 deadline has been replaced with a ‘target’ (they say it’s not an absolute deadline) that by 2020 all students (here we go again with ‘all students’) will be ‘college and career ready.’ But the same misunderstanding of accountability plagues the new proposal. That is, ‘college and career ready’ still relies on annual testing in grades three through eight and once during high school; still relies on rewards for success (i.e., high test scores) and ‘interventions’ for persistent failure (i.e., low test scores), and still fails to address the fundamental social, cultural and familial issues that strongly influence students’ performance. But ‘interventions’ are so much nicer than ‘sanctions,’ don’t you think?”

    -0-

  41. mespo,

    There are many excellent teachers who do not teach in wealthy school districts. They go unnoticed and unacknowledged because their students don’t score as high on standardized tests as do students who live in wealthy school districts.

  42. Keeping an Eye on the Unregulated Testing Industry
    By Gerald Bracey, Fellow at the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University
    Posted March 13, 2009
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-bracey/keeping-an-eye-on-the-unr_b_174731.html

    About 30 years ago, Boston College professor, George Madaus, called for an “FDA for testing.” The point was–and, sadly, is–that school testing was a huge industry totally unregulated. Since Madaus’ proposal, the testing industry has exploded in size. And there is still no regulation, no oversight. “Tests are regulated less than the food we feed our pets,” said the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

    The media assume that tests are valid and accept the claims made for them. If tests say American schools are lousy (they don’t but fear mongers use them that way), then it must be so.

    In fact, tests are so much a part of the educational air we breathe, we probably don’t think of them as needing regulation. Just like we didn’t think about regulating the quality of peanut butter–until recently.

    Testing often tries to put on a white hat as part of the educational enterprise, trying to help kids succeed. In reality, the test companies are as full of greed and avarice as the financial sector or any other part of the economy. We don’t notice it because…there is no regulation. Test companies make enormous claims for the ways in which their products will help your kid, or your school or your district. Is there any research to back up these claims? No. Are there any sanctions for overstating what the tests can do? No. Companies are totally free to claim whatever they wish.

    The relationship between those who make tests and those who use them is way too cozy. In most other industries, such relationships would be banned as sources of conflict of interest.

    A small, non-profit operation, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, universally referred to simply as FairTest, tries to keep an eye on the industry. Its goal is to end all misuse of standardized tests of which, there is today far, far too much. The evidence is all around, but can be seen in books such as Sharon Nichols’ and David Berliner’s Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools. FairTest works to end this corruption.

    It has no regulatory power and can only work to make people aware of problems by newsletters, by providing testimony to state school boards and legislatures, and, on occasion, by organizing for a cause. At the present time, perhaps its most important organizing effort has been one to bring about major changes in the federal No Child Left Behind law. To date, 149 organizations have signed a petition calling on congress to overhaul the law in ways such as to “replace the law’s arbitrary proficiency targets…” and to “measure progress by using students’ growth in achievement…”

  43. rafflaw, I think you have it backwards, teachers are underappreciated[the good ones] because they are a union that protect the lazy and imcompetent. I grew up in a factory union household. My old man said back in the 60’s that unions had outlived their purpose, they were for the most part a way for union executives to have big salary jobs. He pointed out to me that unions had devolved to a system that protects the worst employees. He worked for Pratt&Whitney, building jet engines. The guys of his generation took that duty for perfection DAMN serious because it meant lives. He and other good mechanics saw lazy, shoddy, mechanics protected by the IAM. It was horrible for safety and morale. Kids don’t die because of incompetent teachers, they just work @ McDonalds.

    Elaine, We are BOTH speaking in generalities, you about the best, I about the worst, so lets put that to rest. I do not to “throw out the baby out w/ the bathwater,” I want to throw out the feces that baby left while taking a warm bath. Let’s be brutally honest. The teaching profession has become a female dominated profession. The big positive is girls have been more recognized and the teaching enviroment caters to them. Female teachers connect better w/ female students. The ying/yang problem is w/ boys. Let’s also be honest here..boys are almost always the problems, the kids who disrupt class and take a lot of energy. Most female teachers can’t handle them. Most men can. I would hope you can understand I did REAL WELL w/ those kids. And you know what that meant, I got almost all of them in my classes. And, I was fine w/ that, particularly when I taught middle school. As you know, that’s where you win them or lose them..it’s the most critical juncture. I unabasedly love kids, not just the teacher’s pets, all of them. That’s why I got into teaching @ age 48. Many of those “bad” boys didn’t have men in the home, or they had loser men in the home. With my skills from the real world, I could walk into a class and tell the kids[girls were more subtle..they took a little time] w/o men in their home. Elaine, that’s not the teachers fault or the systems fault. But, you don’t just let those boys be damned, because it’s not their fault either. All people, companies, and organizations must adapt or perish. A union, bureaucratic system does not adapt, it attempts to have the world adapt to them. It doesn’t work that way.

    mespo, Love your idea. But, @ the core of the resistance to your very good idea is teachers loathing tests. I do believe a test is not the sole indicator of competence, but it is most certainly a big part of it.

  44. nick,

    Oh, my achin’ head! I don’t even know where to begin to address what you just spouted about women teachers, male teachers, male/female student relationships, disruptive students, etc. BTW, the teaching profession–as far back as I can recall–has always been dominated by women. Maybe that is one of the reasons that the profession gets so little respect.

    Like many of my female teaching colleagues, I related well to male students. We women teachers had no problem understanding and relating to the boys in our classrooms. We understood how to work with boys–and with girls–who had behavioral issues. That doesn’t mean that we never had problems with some of them. Still, we didn’t let “those” kids be damned.

    I believe it crucial to address any issues children may have that could have a negative impact on their ability to learn, to progress, to achieve, to develop socially and emotionally as soon as they enter school. Can’t wait until middle school–otherwise, the issues will just get more serious.

    You’ve told us time and again how successful you were in the classroom…a kind of miracle worker while the other “union” teachers couldn’t hold a candle to you. Too bad the union thugs drove someone as talented and amazing as you out of the profession.

  45. Elaine, More and more I am seeing you must have taught @ Nirvana Grammar School, where all the teachers are superb and all the students above average[an homage to Garrison Keilor]. Your haughtiness and snark is compensation for a failed system. I obviously hit a nerve. You do know that boys have fallen farther and farther behind in the last 3 decades..that’s an indisputable fact. And to deny that male teachers do better w/ male students, and vice versa is to deny genetics. I know the feminists of the 60’s spouted the flat earth science, “Girls and boys are not different..it’s our culture” horseshit. However, they went on to raise boys and girls and realize there is an enormous difference. Are you one of those Japanese soldiers still defending a remote island still believeing WW2 is ongoing? I was very successful, the students, parents, principals and good teachers would attest to that. And they were listed in order of importance!! The union rats hated me. Your derision of me will be left for you to draw a conclusion where you fit on that list.

  46. nick,

    And where did you teach–in the pit of Hell?

    My bad! I forgot–you’re always right. Anyone with a different opinion is living in some “otherworld”…doesn’t really know what she is talking about…doesn’t understand what is going on in the “real” world. Heaven forbid anyone should be snarky toward you. The land of Snark is your domain.

    *****
    BTW, I really don’t care where I fit on “your” list. I speak from my own experience. You don’t like what I have to say? That’s your problem…not mine.

  47. Elaine, Your rose colored experience does not comport w/ the dismal record of public education, my experience does. So, there’s that.

  48. So does SWM. But, Blouise has the biggest set of lady balls, bigger than most mens. Jag’s got a good pair as do bettykath and Malisha. So grow a pair ap and I’ll be more than happy to bust them.

  49. nick,

    I disagree. There are many excellent schools in this country. There are also many failing schools. One has to examine the problems that cause failing schools. Few seem to want to address those problems–one of which is poverty. It’s easier to blame teachers and the teachers’ unions for all the problems facing public education these days–just as you do.

  50. Elaine, yawn..heard it too many times from you. If you read what I’ve written I have said NUMEROUS times, there are a multitude of problems causing the decline of public education. However, teachers have to accept responsibility for their contribution to the problem and stop alibi’s and pointing fingers. Our president and Secretary of Education agree w/ me. Trying to discuss this w/ you is like watching the flick, Groundhog’s Day.

  51. My mother-in-law, God rest her Sainted Soul, was an oft nominated and once recipient of the state Teacher of the Year award. She taught fourth grade.

    In the late 70’s she was in her late 50’s when a judge put her in jail for 2 weeks for refusing to cross her union’s picket lines. During that two weeks the strike was settled and all … ALL … the demands made by the teachers were met. She exited the jail with a smile on her face and told the gathered reporters that she was close to retirement and certainly didn’t spend 2 weeks in jail for herself but , rather, for all the young men and women who were her colleges and whose future should include a livable wage in a profession that was so vital to the success and stability of society.

    The following year she was once again nominated for Teacher of the Year and the judge who had put her in jail lost his bid for reelection.

    nick and mespo … you both would have gained much from knowing this woman.

  52. Blouise, I don’t doubt that for a second. What do you think your mother-in-law would think of public education today? And, I will repeat what the great Bill veeck said about collective bargaining, and as you know Veeck was a blue collar guy. He said, “I don’t mind paying big dollars to the superstars, they produce. It’s the high price for mediocracy that kills you.” I’ll be happy to pay taxes for the good teachers, but I also have to pay the same tax dollars for the lazy, incompetent ones. All unions eventually devolve into protecting the worst. My old man saw that in his factory.

  53. The morale of this story, IMVHO?

    Don’t judge a person by the size of their balls… or their absence altogether.

  54. Elaine, False choice. Be intellectually honest. Treat teachers like all other professionals. The great ones get paid great, good get paid good, etc. and the incompetent ones get fired. Hell, get rid of school systems bureaucrats and put the money for great teachers. I’ll be happy to fire some asst director of treatment modalities and give that salary to a great teacher. Myself and many people..I bet mespo among them, would pay healthy 6 figure salaries to great teachers. The union is not protecting you, it’s limiting you..that is if you’re good! The only one who benefits are the union executives..making a helluva lot more then teachers. They got folks like you brainwashed.

  55. nick,

    I think both Obama and Duncan don’t have a good understanding of how to address the problems of failing schools. One of the things that is destroying the good schools in this country is the mania for high stakes testing. And what is being done with test results goes beyond the pale.

    I think children with behavioral issues–especially boys–will do worse in schools where there are fewer hands-on exploratory experiences and fewer field trips because teachers are being required to focus their curriculum on teaching to “paper-and-pencil” tests. Schools are being forced to become more rigid…to try to make square kids fit into round holes. That is not the way to meet the needs of our children and to improve education in this country.

  56. Elaine, We just disagree. I jumped up and down when Obama hired Arne Duncan. The way the head of the Chicago Teachers Union made fun of Duncan’s lisp showed what it’s come down to vis a vis unions.

  57. SWM, Newsweek rates the best schools in the country and Texas annually does better than states like Wi.[where I live], Mn., etc. where ALL teachers are in the union. Texas was I believe in the top 5 last year. And, Newsweek is not some conservative rag! My sister taught in Texas for 15 years and loved it. She had taught in Dunwoody, Ga. for 10 and hated it. Her 2 daughters got a great education in high school[Lake Travis] and @ UT. One of them is in grad school @ UT.

  58. nick,

    You’re talking to the wrong person … at one time in my many faceted career life I was an International Rep for CWA.

    An employer can cut costs and improve profits by not providing health care, safe working place, low wages and abusing workers through verbal and physical means … hell, they can even have workers thrown in jail for refusing to accept those conditions … but that sort of cost effectiveness is at the expense of human dignity.

    Unions stand for human dignity. My mother-in-law knew that and having been a teacher for many years, she also had lots of exposure to lazy/incompetent colleges but … she was willing to endure the indignity of jail to stand up for the human dignity of her colleges … all of them.

    There’s an old Irish saying: “If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at the people He gives it to.”

  59. Newsweek ranks on how many ap courses a school offers. It does not take into account how a student performs on an ap exam. There are a few good schools district in Texas but the majority are underfunded. The legislature cut 4.6 billion out of school funding last year.

  60. nick,

    Do you think that it’s a good thing that schools are becoming more rigid and that teachers are being required to spend valuable class time prepping children for high stakes paper and pencil multiple choice tests is a good thing? Do you believe that will improve education in this country?

  61. Teacher’s unions have been used to separate actions from consequences, and they have traditionally been resistant to new processes or objective worker evaluations.

    When that happens productivity falls. That’s the conclusion of a report on productivity and unionism done by economist Barry Hirsh at Florida State in 1997. These are his conclusions:

    Despite the very real benefits of collective voice for workers, the positive effects of unions have been overshadowed by union rent-seeking behavior.* Productivity is not higher, on average, in union workplaces. The failure of collective bargaining to enhance productivity results in substantially lower profitability among unionized companies. Because unions appropriate not only a portion of monopoly-related profits but also the quasi-rents that make
    up the normal return to long-lived capital, unionized companies reduce investment in vulnerable forms of physical and innovative capital. Investment is further reduced since lower profits reduce the size of the internal pool from which investments are partly financed. Slower growth in capital is mirrored by slower growth in sales and employment (and, thus, union membership). The relatively poor performance of union companies gives credence to the proposition that the restructuring in industrial relations and increased
    resistance to union organizing have been predictable responses on the part of businesses to increased domestic and foreign competition. In the absence of a narrowing in the performance differences between unionized and nonunionized companies, modifications in labor law that substantially enhance union organizing and bargaining strength are likely to reduce economic competitiveness.

    Unions are not a panacea but they perform a vital function in counterbalancing the power of private corporations. That function seems less important in the public sector, but it remains a factor.

    I harbor no illusions about the good faith of corporations or governments but I find that unions are not pristine in the their motivations either and are not always conductive to positive student outcomes.

    *Manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth.

  62. sm:

    Per US News: “There are more than 400 Texas schools in the U.S. News Best High Schools 2012 rankings. Two Texas schools are ranked within the top three in the nation, and both are in the Dallas Independent School District.”

  63. mespo,

    Nothing is pristine in this world.

    At one time in my school system–before the advent of collective bargaining–an elementary teacher had no scheduled time away from her students from the time she began work in the morning until the final bell rang in the afternoon. Imagine not having a lunch break–not even a bathroom break–all day long. Teachers who needed to use the restroom facilities had to open a door–if there was one–into a neighboring classroom and ask the teacher there if she’d watch her class while she was in the bathroom. What our first collective bargaining contract got us elementary teachers was a duty-free lunch every day. Later contracts got elementary teachers a planning period four days a week. I don’t think that’s asking too much–especially when one considers that elementary teachers teach every subject.

  64. mespo, No one can argue that the first and most important duty of a union is to protect its members. So, when teacher unions say it’s, “All about the children” it is by definition false. I’m being diplomatic by using the term “false.”

    Blouise, As stated previously, I grew up in a union family but I see them as more detrimental than good, particularly in the public sector. The icon of Dems, FDR, opposed public unions. But, I would be bored to death if I discussed stuff w/ people that agree w/ me. Too many love an echo chamber. C’est la vie.

    Elaine, Again, I’ve said MANY times to you. I’m w/ our president and Duncan. Tests MUST be PART of a teacher’s evaluation along w/ parent, peer and administration input. In high school, I would also include student input.

  65. mespo, They are two magnet schools that offer many ap classes. Most of the parents i know that went that kids went there were not that pleased. They do not compare to to Highland Park ISD although one is very good for the arts. Nora Jones and Erykah Badu went there.

  66. mespo, That’s a point I was making w/ the annual Newsweek study. Lot’s of Texas schools make it. Wi., the allegedly progressive state, didn’t have a high school appear until ~150! In Madison, where teachers closed down schools in protest in 2011, have several failing schools. Here’s the hypocrisy of the year award. Wi. has open enrollment., A parent can choose to send their kids to another district. For decades Madison schools have stated they’re the best in the state. Well, kids are leaving in droves. So, the school district and teacher’s union want to put a cap on the number of kids who can leave. A Berlin Wall of Education.

  67. nick, I will take the Madison schools any day over DISD. We studied the schools in the DFW area, and we decided to send both of our kids to private schools. Also, some of the fundamentalist christian stuff that goes on at the suburban public schools can be off putting if you don’t come from that backround. Like i said there are some very good districts but not enough of them.

  68. SWM, I commend you and your husband for taking the step to do what’s best for your kids. Here’s a problem my sister had w/ bad public schools. She worked as Director of Development @ Choate/Rosemary Hall. One of her perks was her kids got a full ride @ Choate. Of course, they had to pass the entrance exam. When her kids were in the first years in Wallingford Public Schools they did great. However, she saw the work they were given and audited a few classes. She was not impressed, to be diplomatic. Then, she started hearing horror stories from Choate teachers[they also got gratis education for their kids] that their kids, who went to Wallinford schools weren’t passing the Choate exam. There was a mass exodus. My sister chose Foote School in New Haven, where many Yale profs send their kids. It was expensive and needed commuting. My mom was the nanny and did a lot of the car pooling for her grandkids and other future Choate kids. Whatever it takes for our kids. But, I know I’m preaching to the choir on that.

  69. shano, I knew he was her old man..estranged I believe? Well, may he be reincarnated and be close to his daughter in another life.

  70. nick,

    You absolutely missed my point about the mania for high stakes testing and its negative effects upon public education. Either that or you are trying to ignore what I wrote and prefer instead to address the use of testing results in teacher evaluations.

    *****
    Here’s what I wrote to you earlier:

    Elaine M. 1, December 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    nick,

    I think both Obama and Duncan don’t have a good understanding of how to address the problems of failing schools. One of the things that is destroying the good schools in this country is the mania for high stakes testing. And what is being done with test results goes beyond the pale.

    I think children with behavioral issues–especially boys–will do worse in schools where there are fewer hands-on exploratory experiences and fewer field trips because teachers are being required to focus their curriculum on teaching to “paper-and-pencil” tests. Schools are being forced to become more rigid…to try to make square kids fit into round holes. That is not the way to meet the needs of our children and to improve education in this country.

    I also wrote this:

    Elaine M. 1, December 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    nick,

    “Do you think that it’s a good thing that schools are becoming more rigid and that teachers are being required to spend valuable class time prepping children for high stakes paper and pencil multiple choice tests is a good thing? Do you believe that will improve education in this country?”

    *****

    Any response?

  71. mespo,

    Yes, I am familiar with the study you have put forward ..;. it was also touted and praised by the Fraser Institute, a libertarian think tank out of Canada funded, in part, by the Koch brothers and also a favorite of ALEC.

    Ho hum ….

    I believe I’ll stick with my real life experiences … my mother-in-law’s principled stand … and Elaine is right … part of what my mother-in-law, a superb and honored teacher, spent 2 weeks in jail for was the right to take a bathroom break. Human Dignity!

    I could also put forward my real life experiences as I watched the guys from the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers work with my next-door neighbor to establish the NFL Players Association where the big push was for continued payment of salaries to injured players. Imagine that … an injured player actually asking that his pay check continue as the injury healed??!! Good god … he wasn’t even being productive and he still wanted a pay check?! Human Dignity!

    Now speaking of mediocrity and the like … how in the hell did Scalia and Thomas rise so far to the top and thus be the living, breathing representatives of the best the legal profession has to offer? These two compose 25% of the non-chiefs … what kind of union helped them?

  72. Elaine, Chrissake! I think testing is important as are other aspects of evaluation. You’re OBSESSED w/ testing are are all your union brothers and sisters. NO Elaine, it should not be the only criteria but YES, it should be part of the evaluation. WHAT THE F@CK ELSE DO I NEED TO SAY ON THIS TOPIC. I’m beginning to think you need reading comprehension testing. I’ve said this @ least 5 times to you as recently as 4:37p today. Is English your primary language? I know the union despises testing..well, deal w/ it.

  73. Well Blouise, the NFLPA was sold down the river by a loser attorney/politician who never won a race in Wi.[Gov and US Senate] named Ed Garvey. He is a VERY progressive attorney who doesn’t know shit from shinola. They needed Marvin Miller, not some glad handing ham n’ egger Irish hack. The NFLPA is still paying for his incompetence. Don’t try and bullshit me on this. Negotiations are hardball, and the NFLPA picked a softball player. Marvin Miller was an all-star, and the MLPA has the best standard agreement of any sport, football the worst. We pay for our sins and poor decisions.

  74. Scalia was a unanimous pick in the US Senate. You may hate him, I accept that. But he is worthy of the post and EVERY Dem in the US Senate agreed. So, there’s that.

  75. “Don’t try and bullshit me on this.” (nick)

    I’m talking 1956 57-58 and the NFL!!!!! Garvey didn’t show up till ’70 or ’71 after the merger.

  76. “You may hate him, I accept that. ” (nick)

    I don’t hate him, I kinda like overly emotive Italians who allow their love of performing to get in front of their reasoning abilities.

  77. Besides … Thomas needed a buddy.

    And I think he and Thomas are a great reflection on the state of the legal profession … I just wonder how such mediocrity made it to the top without the help of a union.

  78. My.

    How very non-partisan of you, nick.

    Just because Scalia got the post doesn’t mean he’s worthy of it. That’s post hoc reasoning. Technically acceptable and worthy are not the same thing. Clarence Thomas proves that every day. “Worthy” rarely figures in to political appointment. The only reason Scalia got nominated by Reagan on the advice of Ed Meese (another real winner) was that Scalia didn’t have the damning paper trail against civil rights that Bork did although both were both cut from the same neoconservative ideological cloth. “Worthy” means less to those making the nominations and appointments than “malleability” and “cooperative” in their selections. What makes a great Justice as opposed to a merely qualified justice? In every case it has been a jurist who puts legal reasoning and principle in defending the Constitution and citizen’s rights over their personal ideology. Scalia couldn’t do that if you gave him instructions. 1) He’s bound to his neoconservative ideology like its a religion and 2) he’s not that good at legal reasoning and logic.

    So there is that.

  79. Blouise, The 1970’s were the critical juncture for the baseball and football unions. Baseball players hit a grand slam, football palyers got ass raped. In the 50’s and 60’s athletes were indentured servants regardless of their union. The fact that brave athletes started them is noteworthy and heroic. But, they didn’t mean anything until the 70’s.

    Don’t get me wrong, Scalia is a pompous, condescending dago. But, he is certainly quite intelligent and any intellectually honest progressive attorney would agree. And, you do know Thomas is not his best friend on the Court, Ginsburg is.

  80. nick

    You’re ignoring “Radovich v. National Football League” Supreme Court ruling and a bunch of other stuff but that’s ok … I’ve dealt with many just like you who will go to any lengths in stretching or ignoring the actual facts regarding unions and the benefits they have brought to all kinds of American workers in order to support a stance based on emotion.

    I never said Scalia wasn’t intelligent … but his reasoning ability is always diverted by his addiction to drama and performance. The real and undebatable strength both of them possess is an ability to play the system.

  81. Blouise, I’ve discussed w/ MikeS several times how Marvin Miller was a hero for not only baseball players, but baseball. It’s part of the transcript. I’m saying the NFLPA made a horribly bad decision in picking Garvey @ the most important time. I believe unions were critical to the success of this country. I believe NOW, not back in the 20’s-70’s, but NOW, they’re self serving bloated organizations that take advantage of their members as much as business or govt. And, I think Thomas has several blow-up buddies named Juanita, Tammy and Donna.

  82. Blouise,

    I wasn’t able to post comments last night. I’ll try again this morning.

    “I never said Scalia wasn’t intelligent … but his reasoning ability is always diverted by his addiction to drama and performance.”

    And maybe his ideology?

  83. nick,

    You’re still not responding to my questions about the negative effects that too much testing has on education in this country. Should I assume that you think it doesn’t matter if the mania for testing and prepping children for high stakes tests has a negative impact on children and the educational process in this country?

    BTW, as I said earlier–I’m not anti-testing. What I believe is wrong-headed is perverting education in this country by over-testing children and letting high stakes tests drive what is taught in our classrooms in this country.

    I’d really like to find out how many millions–probably billions–of dollars are spent annually on these tests. I think more money should be put toward early childhood education and smaller class sizes instead of toward high stakes testing.

  84. Experience shows high-stakes testing has been a failure
    By Murray Levine and Adeline Levine
    (Murray Levine, Ph.D., is distinguished service professor emeritus in psychology at the University at Buffalo. Adeline Levine, Ph.D., is professor emeritus in sociology at UB.)
    9/10/12
    http://www.buffalonews.com/article/20120910/OPINION/120919922/1074

    Excerpt:
    High-stakes achievement testing has not only failed to live up to the promises of its proponents and distorted the educational process, but it has resulted in waste (money spent on testing with little gain), fraud (cheating at all levels to report better test scores) and abuse (of children subjected to excessive testing, and of teachers evaluated by tests that do not accurately measure their classroom performance.).

    The high-stakes achievement test intervention has failed over the past 10 years. It is time to hold accountability accountable, to give up reliance on fallible test scores and to pay more attention to truly educating children.

  85. Could millions going to high-stakes testing be better spent?
    By Linda Campbell
    Posted Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012
    http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/12/05/4463534/could-millions-going-to-high-stakes.html

    Excerpt:
    But when a Pearson vice president, Steve Ferrara, wrote on the company’s “fwd” blog that testing accounts for “a minuscule percentage of education spending,” he got plenty of comments begging to differ — mostly for his laughable estimate that “students in grades 3-8 spend about ten hours on end of year tests … about a day and a half of school per year.” (bit.ly/VzMAHv)

    “Only someone who has never spent time in a classroom would make this claim. The average school spends two weeks on the state’s standardized tests — because if you know anything about children, it’s that their natural inclination is not to sit perfectly quietly and fill in bubbles for six hours straight. … There is not one piece of research that shows that more testing will lead to higher achievement, nor that threatening schools and teachers with high populations of poor, minority, ELL, and special needs kids that if they don’t magically raise test scores they will be punished/fired.”

    “While the actual tests are ten hours (which by the way, is ridiculously too long for a third grader), the amount of preparation that goes into getting ready for the tests takes away from lessons that should focus on critical thinking. … Standardized tests not only take money away from student learning; they fuel anxiety. This money should be in the schools, allowing students to be in classrooms with greater academic support, smaller class sizes, more resources available. Corporations should not be making money at the expense of children.”

    “Any teacher can tell you that standardized tests kill joy, creativity, and individuality, all of which are needed for genuine learning to take place.”

    “Parents don’t want the kind of ‘good instruction’ test prep, high stakes testing ‘offers.’ We want our children to: learn to read, then read to learn, then love to learn, then become good, adequately prepared citizens of the world. We want our children to: have recess, art, music, AP courses, internships, sports teams, proms, trips to colleges and wrap around services.”

  86. Parents protest surge in standardized testing
    By Stephanie Simon
    Tue Jun 12, 2012
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/12/us-usa-education-testing-idUSBRE85B0EO20120612

    Excerpts:
    (Reuters) – A backlash against high-stakes standardized testing is sweeping through U.S. school districts as parents, teachers, and administrators protest that the exams are unfair, unreliable and unnecessarily punitive – and even some longtime advocates of testing call for changes.

    The objections come even as federal and state authorities pour hundreds of millions of dollars into developing new tests, including some for children as young as 5.

    In a growing number of states, scores on standardized tests weigh heavily in determining whether an 8-year-old advances to the next grade with her classmates; whether a teen can get his high school diploma; which teachers keep their jobs; how much those teachers are paid; and even which public schools are shut down or turned over to private management.

    Parents frustrated by the system say they’re not against all standardized tests but resent the many hours their kids spend filling in multiple-choice bubbles and the wide-ranging consequence that poor scores carry. They say the testing regime piles stress on children and wastes classroom time. In elementary schools, they protest that a laser focus on the subjects tested, mostly math and reading, crowds out science, social studies and the arts. In high schools, they’re fighting standardized exams that can determine a student’s course grade in subjects from geometry to world history.

    “I see frustration and bitterness among parents growing by leaps and bounds,” said Leonie Haimson, a mother who runs Class Size Matters, an advocacy group in New York City that pushes for reduced testing and smaller class sizes. “What parents are saying is, ‘Enough is enough.'”

    “KIDS ARE NOT A TEST SCORE”

    More than 500 school boards in Texas have passed resolutions demanding a reduced focus on high-stakes standardized tests. So have several big school districts in Florida, including Broward County, the sixth-largest district in the United States. Parents in northwest Washington state organized a boycott this spring and kept hundreds of children out of state exams.

    And in New York City last week, several hundred parents and children rallied outside the offices of Pearson Education, a division of Pearson Plc, the nation’s largest testing company. To the jaunty accompaniment of a marching band, the protesters chanted, “More teaching, less testing” and “One, two, three, four … Kids are not a test score.”

    ***
    PROCTORS AND BATHROOM GUARDS

    The tests have spawned a cumbersome bureaucracy, however.

    In Texas, district administrators study a 156-page manual, plus a 47-page security supplement, to prepare for a testing season that runs from October through July. Test coordinators, often guidance counselors, spend days before each major testing period sorting supplies and scheduling individual proctors for special-needs students.

    On big test days, John Kuhn, the superintendent of a small school district in north Texas, runs through so many proctors he has to hire substitute teachers to guard each school’s bathrooms. That’s a security requirement: A monitor must watch the bathroom door to make sure kids go in one at a time, lest they compare answers.

    Security “has crossed over into ludicrous, in my opinion,” Kuhn said. “It drives me bonkers.”

    Standardized testing used to be about understanding and addressing students’ needs, he said. Now it’s become a quick way to judge kids, teachers and entire districts, Kuhn said. “It’s no longer really diagnostic. It’s punitive,” he said. “That’s all it is.”

    Even some advocates of testing are beginning to publicly complain about the system.

    Many state assessments are given in March or April, so they capture only what a student has learned in the first two-thirds of the school year. The results often don’t come back until the summer, too late for teachers to use the scores to guide their approach in the classroom.

    “They’re not useful,” said Paul Vallas, a veteran superintendent who has helped turn around districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans and is now running the schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

  87. “High-Stakes Testing is Out of Control” UPDATE!
    By Diane Ravitch
    October 4, 2012
    http://dianeravitch.net/2012/10/04/high-stakes-testing-is-out-of-control/

    Peter DeWitt, principal of an elementary school in upstate New York, surveys the landscape and sees an educational system that is crushing principals, teachers and children with unreasonable mandates.

    At the center of the mandates is the endless demands for test scores. Higher and higher…or die.

    Complaints are rising. They are coming from all directions. The current course of “reform” is not sustainable when the object of the reforms reacts with sullen and suppressed rage. There is no joy in this Mudville.

    Peter concludes:

    “High stakes testing has gotten out of control. Policymakers, state and federal education departments aren’t on the sidelines. They are making decisions from remote locations. These decisions are coming from people who care more about money and shame than they care about children. Unfortunately, children are the collateral damage in this new test-taking era.

    “Education should be about learning, educational resources and building relationships with students and families. It should not be about testing. So many stakeholders do not understand the amount of money that is given privately to companies creating high stakes tests. They hear about money coming from the lottery or from Race to the Top and truly believe that each school district shares in that pot when that is just not true. It takes millions of dollars to pay for tests made by companies and that money could be better invested where it is needed most, which is in our students.

    “It’s time for policymakers, politicians and state education departments to wake up and see that the complaints about high stakes testing is not part of an implementation dip, it’s just bad practice. Many states have been giving high stakes testing for almost fifteen years and it has done little to help public education. To keep moving forward with so much collateral damage is educational malpractice on the part of those in charge.

  88. New York Standardized Testing Protest Brings Parents, Students To Pearson’s Steps
    By Alex Kuczynski-Brown
    Posted: 06/07/2012
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/new-york-standardized-tests-protest-pearson-field-tests_n_1579187.html

    Excerpt:
    At Thursday’s protest, Lisa Edstrom, representing Parent Voices New York, gave an impassioned speech lamenting the role that high-stakes tests now play in children’s classrooms.

    “As an educator with 20 years’ experience, I’ve seen what good schools look like. But what I’ve seen as a parent in these last couple of years makes me angry,” she said into a microphone, with the crowd repeating her every line. “High-stakes tests drive our curriculum. I’m all for good assessments, but these tests do not give us useful information about our children. These tests are being used to evaluate teachers and schools. And the pressure is on our children to perform, and on our teachers to get them to perform.”

    Michele Israel told HuffPost that parents at her fourth-grade son Aidan’s school, P.S. 107 in Brooklyn, opted their children out of the first round of field tests administered a few weeks ago.

    Like many other parents at the protest, Israel expressed frustration that schools now tended to “teach towards the tests” and that admission to particular middle schools can hinge heavily on standardized test scores.

    Kevin Jacobs, also a parent from P.S. 107, said he has been active in the movement against the growing number and importance of standardized tests.

    “I think part of what we’re trying to do is both activate more parents and get them involved and get them to believe,” Jacobs said. “We’ve had 12 years where parents have pretty much been excluded from the process of making decisions in public education, and I think that’s been the outcome of mayoral control.”

    He also said testing protesters had “met with as many state senators and assembly members as we could get meetings with in the last few months.”

    On Thursday, Jacobs was accompanied by his six-year-old son, who is in first grade and thus has not yet been subject to standardized testing. But Jacobs isn’t sure that grace period will last.

    “It’s possible that in a few years from now they could be doing tests certainly of kindergarten and even preschool, if you look at some of the other states and how they’re using standardized tests,” he said. “I find that ludicrous, first of all, and also scary.”

  89. The real problem is grade inflation. That and the fluff curriculum offered in American public schools. My daughter attends a public school in Germany. Here is her course load for the 10th grade: German, English (8th year), Latin (4th year), Politics/Economics, History, Religion/Ethics, P.E., Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Music Theory. School choir is an extra-curricular activity, as is drama club. No “Health”, or “Sex Ed”, those subjects are covered in Bio. Also, no “Language Arts”. American parents: what are you getting for your tax dollars?????

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