kitchen table math, the sequel: 7/4/10 - 7/11/10

Saturday, July 10, 2010

projects we have known and loved

The numbers are imprecise, but according to a 1988 report by the National Council of Teachers of English, her novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," was required reading in three-quarters of America's high schools. Since its publication 50 years ago this summer, it probably ranks just behind "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," with American high-school students not only required to read the book but to tackle related projects. These range from drawing the courthouse where Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, was defended by Atticus Finch, to writing articles for the Maycomb Tribune recounting the trial, and recasting the movie with contemporary actors. (In 2006 my daughter, attending a public high school in New Jersey, cast Kevin Kline as Atticus and Abigail Breslin as his young daughter, Scout.)
What 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Isn't
JUNE 24, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

score inflation in NY

Over the last few years, student performance has soared on math and English tests across New York State, with the most dramatic improvements evident in urban districts such as Buffalo, leading many to celebrate the progress.

But now, state education officials say the progress may not have been quite what it seemed.

Weaknesses in the state’s testing and scoring systems over the last several years created what Education Commissioner David M. Steiner equates to systemic “grade inflation.”
  • Students who score at the “proficient” level in middle school math, for instance, stand only a 1-in-3 chance of doing well enough in high school to succeed in college math, he said.
  • Students begin getting “inflated” test scores before they hit high school, state officials said. A student who scores a 3 on a state math test — which is considered “proficient” on the scale of 1 to 4 — stands only a 30 percent chance of getting an 80 on the high school Regents math exam, they said.
  • ...a student who scored at the proficient level on a state test in 2006 was in the 45th percentile on the national test, meaning that 55 percent of students in the country scored better. In 2009, the same score on the state test would land a student in the 20th percentile on the national test, meaning that 80 percent of students nationwide scored better.

The state Education Department recently asked a group of experts, led by Harvard University’s Daniel M. Koretz, to determine how closely eighth-grade scores correlate to high school Regents exam scores — and how well those Regents exam scores correlate to success in college.

Flawed tests distort sharp rise in scores by students
By Mary B. Pasciak
Updated: July 06, 2010, 11:42 pm / 19 comments
Published: July 07, 2010, 6:35 am

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Tension...

I've posted something to another blog that I thought might also be appropriate for KTM. This community has always felt very comfortable to me, but also challenges me to think! Posters and commenters have focused on educational issues [SteveH just nailed it!] rather than "politics"...

Anyway, HERE it is!
Have a wonderful day!

ps-Catherine, I'm not sure how to tag it, so please feel free to do so if you wish.

Forget Grade Levels?

I saw this in our paper yesterday.

Forget grade levels

It's interesting to see how ed school thought can be spun any which way.

"The current system of public education in this country is not working" said Superintendent John Covington. "It's an outdated, industrial, agrarian kind of model that lends itself to still allowing students to progress through school based on the amount of time they sit in a chair rather than whether or not they have truly mastered the competencies and skills."

Students progress through school only if they allow them to progress. When I grew up, kids were held back or had to go to summer school. Apparently, since then, they've moved to an "industrial, agrarian kind of model". This is really stupid thinking.

With this new model, are they going to continually keep kids in second grade if they don't pass the proficiency test? Speaking of which, I assume that these are minimal grade level state tests. However, it might force schools to actually try to get kids to pass the exam and not just "trust the spiral". It will force them to deal with the issues sooner rather than just pass the problems along and then blame the kids or parents or poverty.

"This system precludes us from labeling children failures," Covington said. "It's not that you've failed, it's just that at this point you haven't mastered the competencies yet and when you do, you will move to the next level."

What about the 12 year old who still hasn't gotten past the 2nd grade material? What about differentiated learning? That's not a "factory model". However, both models have the same core philosophy. The onus for learning is on the kids and there is no direct teaching. At least the approach descrbed here allows kids to accelerate out. I don't know what they are accelerating to or around, but it at least forces schools to define what is required knowledge and skills for each grade. Unfortunately, we know what those standards are.

"Greg Johnson, director of curriculum and instruction for the Bering Strait School District in Alaska, recalled that before the switch there were students who had been on honor roll throughout high school then failed a test the state requires for graduation."

Incompetence. How is that going to change with the new model? They will show kids the state tests for each grade and leave it up to them to meet the low cutoffs. Then they will have kids who meet the low state graduation requirements when they are 14. What next? They will have kids stuck as sophomores. What next?

Will they have low and high grade level standards, not just pass/fail cutoffs? What will high grades mean for kids? Will they properly map the math required (and test grades) for algebra in 8th grade back to Kindergarten?

At least this model forces schools to deal with these issues. With differentiated instruction, their heads are completely in the sand - or somewhere else.