Disappointing 12th grade scores on Nation’s Report Card: Why aren’t reforms working?

What is the challenge with math performance in American schools? BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

There is not much new or positive to say about the NAEP results in math and reading from the nation’s high school seniors as there was no progress and some lost ground.

Math scores fell slightly and reading stayed the same. The results indicate only 37 percent of 12th graders are ready for college-level work. The AJC has an interactive chart that will give you more details. Click here.

Here’s my question: We have now had two decades of unrelenting, dizzying reform, especially here in Georgia where each new governor rolled out initiatives with the promise of improved academic performance (Up next, the Opportunity School District.)

Are any of them working?

My own view: At the same time we are revving up expectations for all students, poverty is becoming more entrenched, especially in rural America.

As always, the NAEP results show children of educated parents perform better. Kids of less educated parents have always trailed their middle-class peers, but I wonder if that gap is widening as their parents scramble to keep food on the table and juggle several low-paying jobs. A notable and troubling trend in this new NAEP data: the lowest performing students are falling even farther behind.

(For some insights into the growing gap between rich and poor and its impact on education inequality and outcomes, take a look at a New York Times story today that focuses on the growing income segregation in America. The piece quotes research showing “a threefold increase between 1972 and 2007 in top-decile spending on children, an increase that suggests that parents at the top may be investing in ever more high-quality day care and babysitting, private schooling, books and tutoring, and college tuition and fees.”)

In a statement, U.S. Education Secretary John King said,  “Over the past seven years, schools have undergone some of the most significant changes in decades – work that is being led by educators who are retooling their classroom practices to adapt to new and higher standards. We know the results of those changes will not be seen overnight, so we need to be patient – but not passive – in continuing to pursue the goal of preparing all students for success after high school. Indeed, the data show us some opportunities where we can make a difference. For example, 12th-graders who took math classes their senior year did significantly better on NAEP than those who did not, which indicates how important it is that schools continue to expand opportunities – particularly for historically underserved students – to take advanced coursework. It’s important to continue to help all students meet and exceed these high standards – especially those learners who are the furthest behind.”

 You folks know better than I what is happening in the classroom. Tell us about it. I am tuning in later for a webinar on these results and will let you know what the experts have to say.

I want to note there are many critics who contend NAEP lacks validity and sets its advanced level so high that few kids even in the world’s highest performing nations can meet it. To read about those criticisms, go here.

Here are the official NAEP results and summary:

Results from The Nation’s Report Card: 2015 Mathematics and Reading at Grade 12 indicate scores for high school seniors were 2 points lower in mathematics and remained unchanged in reading in 2015 compared with 2013; overall, scores were not significantly different in mathematics and were 5 points lower in reading since the first comparable assessment year — 2005 for mathematics and 1992 for reading.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as The Nation’s Report Card, also shows that an estimated 37 percent of 12th-graders are prepared for college-level coursework in each subject. In 2013, the last time the assessments were given, an estimated 39 percent of grade 12 students were prepared for college-level mathematics and an estimated 38 percent for college-level reading.

“The 12th-grade NAEP results confirm the need to move swiftly to ensure that all students have access to high-quality programs that prepare them for success in higher education and the workforce,” said Governing Board member Mitchell Chester, who is also commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Too many 12th-graders are unprepared for the world after high school.”

The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, began using NAEP in 2013 to estimate the percentage of grade 12 students who possess the knowledge and skills in reading and mathematics that would make them academically prepared for first-year college coursework. The Governing Board has been conducting extensive research in this area since 2008.

NAEP results are measured at three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Basic denotes partial mastery of knowledge and skills, Proficient denotes solid academic performance and Advanced represents superior work. To determine the percentage of students performing at or above the level indicating college preparedness, a single score is identified in each subject. These scores correspond closely with scores that define the Proficient level but were independently determined as a result of the Governing Board’s preparedness research.

2015 Grade 12 Mathematics: The results are based on a nationally representative sample of 13,200 12th-graders from 740 schools. The mathematics assessment measures performance in four areas: (1) number properties and operations; (2) measurement and geometry; (3) data analysis, statistics and probability; and (4) algebra. Students earning a score equivalent to the national average were likely to be able to use proportions to calculate height but were not likely to be able to use an algebra model to predict cost with a calculator. Some key highlights:

-25 percent of grade 12 students across the country scored at or above the Proficient level, including 3 percent who scored at the Advanced level, in 2015.

-The percentage of students performing at or above the Basic level in 2015 was lower compared with data from 2013; however, a higher percentage of students performed below Basic.

-47 percent of Asian students, 32 percent of white students and 31 percent of students of two or more races scored at or above the Proficient level; 7 percent of black, 10 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native and 12 percent of Hispanic students scored at or above Proficient in 2015.

-English language learners scored higher in 2015 than in 2013, but native English speakers scored lower.

-Students whose parents did not graduate from high school or had only some education after high school scored lower in 2015 than in 2013. There was no change in scores for students whose parents had graduated from high school or from college when compared with 2013.

-There was no change in scores for students with disabilities, and scores for students who are not identified as students with disabilities decreased compared with 2013.

2015 Grade 12 Reading: The results are based on a nationally representative sample of 18,700 12th-graders from 740 schools. The reading assessment measures students’ comprehension of two types of texts: literary and informational. Students earning a score equivalent to the national average were likely to be able to make an inference based on details in a reading text but were not likely to be able to recognize detail related to the purpose of a reading text. Some key highlights:

-37 percent of grade 12 students across the nation performed at or above the Proficient level, including 6 percent who scored at the Advanced level, in 2015.

-49 percent of Asian students, 46 percent of white students and 45 percent of students of two or more races scored at or above Proficient, while 17 percent of black students, 25 percent of Hispanic students and 28 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students reached that achievement level in 2015.

-The percentage of students performing below Basic in 2015 was higher compared with 2013.

-Since 2013, scores have increased for students performing at the 90th percentile and have declined for students at the 25th and 10th percentiles.

-The achievement gap between black and white students was wider when compared with the first assessment in 1992.

During each assessment, 12th-graders were asked questions about their lives and specific habits to determine any relationships between students’ experiences and NAEP performance. For both reading and mathematics, 42 percent of students said they had been accepted to a four-year college at the time of the assessment.

In both subjects, students’ NAEP scores increased as they reported reading more pages each day in school and for homework, in categories from five or fewer pages to more than 20 pages. In mathematics, students who took higher-level courses such as calculus performed better on NAEP than students who took lower-level mathematics courses. And in reading, students who read for fun every day or almost every day scored higher on NAEP than those who read for fun less often.

“A strong foundation in math and reading is essential to a student being prepared for college academics and for most careers, so this trend of stagnating scores is worrisome,” Governing Board Chair Terry Mazany said. “We must examine how we’re preparing students for life after high school, whether offering more students advanced math coursework, for example, or placing greater emphasis on reading for pleasure and for school. This is a crucial time in education, and there are many things each of us can do to help ensure every student succeeds.”

 

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59 comments
Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

"47 percent of Asian students, 32 percent of white students and 31 percent of students of two or more races scored at or above the Proficient level; 7 percent of black, 10 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native and 12 percent of Hispanic students scored at or above Proficient in 2015."


Unlike what Milo suggests, data at this point suggest that most people are born with roughly the same intellectual potential.  What explains the differences is the degree of effort students can and do put into their school work over time.  Environment can affect progress, but so can individual motivation and grit .  One aspect of  environment is the expectations placed on students by their parents and teachers. Others include whether  the individual student is adequately fed ,has a quiet place and adequate resources to study and is able to get back and forth to a school in which learning can take place.


Brains are akin to muscles.  Different amounts of work actually done lead to differing developmental outcomes.

Milo
Milo

Same reason a pig will never fly. Nature didn't give them wings. 

Sam Mann
Sam Mann

Educational reforms aren’t working because the problem is poverty. While the gaps in education between the 90th and 25th percentile widens, so does the gulf between the rich and poor.

According to the National Center for Childhood Poverty, 49% of Georgia children live in low income families.  That’s over one million children.  According to a 2012 U.S. Census report Georgia fell from the 11th most poverty-stricken state for children to the 6th worse.  It doesn’t seem to be getting better.

Many of these children go to school hungry, tired and live in unstable environments.  They take standardized tests that produce disturbing reports.   We are asking them to read and write, but many lack the basic necessities of life.  Are they emotionally and physically prepared to learn?

Until childhood poverty is managed, education reforms will fail. The data is predictable.  Children in poverty do poorly in school.  Children with parents earning above the federal poverty level score higher marks. Those in more affluent homes perform better still.   

This is the American cycle of life life.   Children living in poverty are likely to drop out of school and pass their unfortunate circumstances to the next generation.    Will be still be asking why reforms aren’t working?

Starik
Starik

@Sam Mann Very true, but like all issues where race is involved nobody really wants to discuss it. There's a tipping point in schools. Ideally all races and ethnic groups should work together and learn together but some districts won't tolerate that - DeKalb lets black kids transfer in, which upsets the equilibrium, the school becomes a "black school" and the white kids who are able to leave do so, along with the Asian kids who can, and the Hispanic kids who can, and significantly, the upwardly mobile black kids move on as well, to a place where they can receive the education they deserve. . 


Meanwhile, the poverty kids you speak of, if they graduate from high school, go to mediocre HBCUs, manage to graduate from them, become teachers, and get hired by the DeKalb schools, where the poor black kids get a mediocre education from them. 


A year or so the AJC Editorial Board approved, and the Editor wrote an editorial urging everybody to discuss racial issues.  We need to start doing it.  All the AJC blogs are led by white liberals who can't do it and the designated "conservative" for the paper won't.  Moderates are nonexistent.



class80olddog
class80olddog

The other part of the "no improvement" data is the change in culture over the past forty years.  Certain cultures have made education a negative - as in "acting too white".  ALL parents and children have changed - parents have gotten much more permissive, and turned into "helicopter parents".  Also, society has bought into the "victim mythology" and eschewed any personal responsibility.  Your son is a criminal?  Must be because his great great grandfather was a slave.  Or because he was abused as a child.  Never his responsibility.  I laugh at the cartoon showing the difference in 1960 and 2015 - in 1960 the parent is yelling at the child because he received a F, in 2015, the parent is yelling at the TEACHER because her son earned a F.  Parents have driven administrators, and, through them, teachers to give grades and promote students who did not deserve them. 

Starik
Starik

@class80olddog You have "helicopter parents" backwards - these are the parents who hover over their kids and monitor and control them too much.  Were you in school in 1960?  The teachers were all white (in the South) but really weren't much different as far as teaching ability.  The students were all white also, and culturally different than the students today. Everything was segregated by race, by law. 


What you're complaining about is racial integration, which is a fact, and a good thing in the long haul but was mishandled, badly. It was all too sudden for white families, and led to home schooling, more private schools (segregation academies) and complete chaos in many schools, including the introduction of poorly educated black teachers into the formerly white schools. 


There's no question of responsibility.  White people in the past, not interested in manual labor, brought in immigrants from West Africa through slavery - our only involuntary immigrant group, and then mistreated them in every way people could mistreat other people all the way from the beginnings of this country to the 1960s. We need to fix the problem. 


How? We can't research the question because all solutions and conclusions must be politically correct,  We need to be honest about the problem we - white folks - created and black folks need to he honest as well, and work with whites to fix the schools and everything else. 


Black folks were the victims, and the ancestors of the perpetrators are feeling the pain, now, through collapsing schools and a serious problem of crime by kids 15-25, mostly black, who should be in school. 


We need to deal with this mess honestly and through cooperation between the whites and the black immigrants who never completely became pot of the :melting pot" because whites wouldn't allow it.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Why are the "reforms" not working - are you kidding me?  Let's take a look at these "reforms" over the last forty years. 1) Get rid of spanking in most schools - but it does not stop there.  We eliminated MOST forms of discipline.  The only remaining ones are the ones that the students want - ISS and OSS. Then eliminate discipline among the groups that misbehave the most by claiming that there is too much discipline on that one group.  2) Keep all kids in the same age group classification.  If they fail, socially promote them anyway to keep them in their group.  Take summer school away.  3) Do away with enforcement of attendance.  No truancy laws enforced.  Let kids miss school as much as they (and their parents) like.  4) Grade inflation.  Social promotion requires that F's be made D's.  Passing becomes the by-word, even if the student is three grades behind.  Others have already mentioned HOPE-related grade inflation.  Fight any standardized testing that shows that teachers' grades do not reflect reality.  No-zeros policies.  No grade lower than 50%.  And these are the "reforms" that you expected to show improvement in learning?  No, they are the PC-led, feel-good, everyone gets a trophy spewings of education majors and psychologists.

Astropig
Astropig

@class80olddog


Agree.Most of the reforms that have occurred since WWII have been liberal social engineering that has failed.If we want to find the real reason that reforms fail,we have to consider that aspect. We've been grafting theories and policies onto a learning system that hasn't changed much since three quarters of the nation were farmers.


That said,the idea that the OSD is the flavor of the month is just wrong.New Jersey took over failing schools a couple of decades ago,Tennessee has done it and the results have been dramatic and positive in Louisiana,despite the intractable opposition of teachers groups and unions.


Discontent is the beginning of improvement and many are discontent with the status quo in education.

y8sisgr8
y8sisgr8

The accompanying bar charts to the AJC article have all the colors scrambled from what they are supposed to be, at least for the 12th grade reading graphs.  (The 12th grade math graphs are correct.)  The following columns show the Race/Ethnicity color guide on the left.  The actual colors shown in the graph for those races were actually for different races shown on the right.


Asian                White

White                Hispanic

Hispanic          Black

Amer Indian    Asian

Black                Amer Indian


In other words, the color for Asian on the color guide actually turns out to be the color for White on the actual graph chart, and so on. The graph itself is understandable, and does not really need a color guide.  But when the color guide turns out to be radically different from the actual colors used, it would have been less confusing not to have the color guide at all.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@y8sisgr8 I have sent your note to the designers to make the color adjustment. 

Johnny Rebb
Johnny Rebb

Because the parents don't care.... maybe you let them grow up behind a tv and video games and you wonder why there idiots

Carole Sullivan Schmitt
Carole Sullivan Schmitt

Parents and teachers want to play it safe.. Don't take too much "rigor" because you don't want to loose hOpe. Never get a c even if you pushed yourself by taking a very rigorous class. Also school counsellors encourage seniors not to take a full load .. Take 3-4 classes and leave early for a work study.. Sure spending an afternoon working at a retail store will help you with the rigor of college. All of this is so short sided. From personal experience We pushed rigor hard, to the tune of 10 ap classes and a measly 3.56 gpa, which got us wait listed at UGA. Some of my child's friends got into UGA with a less stringent workload and a higher gpa, but dropped out of a nursing track after first semester because they could not even get through chemistry. We are out of state and we will have student loans , but with an engineering degree I think my child will be ok. The hard work didn't pay off short term because the way the system is set up, but long term it will be fine. Too bad we are penalized financially for going the harder route.

Micki Jones Byrnes
Micki Jones Byrnes

When the Hope Scholarship was formed, placing an importance on grades as an indicator of motivation, accomplishment, and college success, Georgia students and parents started focusing on grades and not learning. The number, and not what a student had accomplished, became all that mattered. And if that grade was in jeopardy, they demanded parent conferences, second-guessed the teacher, and whined their way into forcing teachers to be less rigorous...because how could you, as a teacher, deny a student a college education? The Hope was one of the best and one of the worst things to happen to education in Georgia.

Re Al A T
Re Al A T

Put some toughness back into teaching and some consequences for the students. When did the inmates/students take control of our educational system? Local school boards managed to organize support from the community to successfully educate students and prepare them for careers and college many years ago. The failure of education now can be laid at the feet of the people. We've accepted this monster "education" and have allowed it to totally cloud our logic or reasoning for the foundation of common sense plus knowledge equal intelligence.

Ben Williamson
Ben Williamson

Rick Martin, we were discussing the other evening why private school students do so well. Could it be their parents pay $500 and up per month and will not tolerate less than their best?

Rick Martin
Rick Martin

Do you think it might have something to do with student motivation and parenting? Just s thought from a retired teacher.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Poor families are way better off financially now than they've ever been, due to the ever increasing safety net.  That "excuse" is exactly that - and a complete canard to justify the terrible performance of our education system.


Would be interesting to see a comparison between schools that force teachers to 1) Keep disruptive kids in the classroom, rather than supporting their removal, 2) Demand "passing grades" and social promotion, regardless of whether the student is actually learning, and 3) focus on "similar achievement (meaning promotion) of all racial groups - 


Vs schools that take the exact opposite approach - 1) removing classroom disrupters so they don't take away from the other kids, 2) demand actual proof of learning before promotion, and 2) treat all kids the same, without regard to racial politics.


I suspect we would find out the "caring philosophy" behind the former approach is a huge reason for a complete lack of "education return", in spite of our tripling (after inflation) of per student spending over the past 30 years.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

“I forget, does NAEP give statewide information (I know it doesn't give school level information)?”

NAEP selects and tests for each state a random sample of students.  This necessarily makes NAEP an assessment of each state on the whole, and not an assessment, nor indictment, of individual students nor of individual schools.  NAEP answers the question, how well are the states doing?  NAEP does not answer the question, how well are individual students and schools doing?  NAEP assesses each state as a process that produces the outcomes – namely, quality of student learning across the categories Basic, Proficient, and Advanced, and across certain reporting groups including demographics.  NAEP uses random samples of outcomes to ascertain the quality of each state as a process that produces its outcomes.

Unfortunately, because all too often the powerful at the top tend to push blame down to those seen as the least empowered, many folk buy into and leap to making or expecting NAEP be about students and schools and, of course, teachers.  But when they make that leap, they also inadvertently relieve the powerful at the top responsible for improving state education systems on the whole from fulfilling their responsibility.  Therefore, NAEP results get turned into statements and speculations about how well students and schools and teachers are doing.

Starik
Starik

We need rigorous study of the way we educate our kids, free of political correctness and politics, especially racial politics. The obscenity of racial segregation and Jim Crow are gone but we still see academic success the same - Asian, then white, and so on.  Some of our racial disparities are cultural, I believe.  We need to study this with an open mind, free of the politically required and mandated conclusion that all people are identical. 


We need to sort kids into tracks by ability and teach them appropriately; allow kids to move up or down between tracks depending on how they perform, or not.  We need to reform the teaching profession.  Too many teachers are simply terrible.  They don't have a mastery of the subject they're teaching because we allow people to teach our young who can't speak standard English and scraped through the worst of our colleges at the bottom of their class. We need to respect teachers, but when you meet some of your kids' teachers you can't do that. 


The theories and reforms coming from the "experts" in education education and theory are not working. Ignore them. Require new teachers to prove that they graduated with academic degrees from above average colleges and performed at an above average level in college. Test the teachers, rigorously, and if a teacher is superior they should be teaching the most capable kids. Quit worshiping football and basketball.  Quit respecting "coaches" and respect high performing teachers in academic subjects, and for everybody's sake quit overpaying them and making them Principals. 


Once the teaching profession deserves respect, pay them accordingly.  Make the profession attractive to the best students. Make it hard to become a teacher and reward those who deserve it.

Trung Thắng Nguyễn
Trung Thắng Nguyễn

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gapeach101
gapeach101

I forget, does  NAEP give statewide information (I know it doesn't give school level information)?  This group of HS seniors would have been subject to the MATH I,II,III,IV experiment.  Wondering if GA saw in increase in scores

jerryeads
jerryeads

Kudos Ed and Retired.

YES, there are legitimate criticisms of NAEP. Their "levels" are demonstrably inaccurately high. There appears to be political utility in setting the "levels" that way. 

That said, the tests continue to be among the best made in the world. Like any national achievement test (like ITBS or CTBS) it's a very difficult job to make a test that reflects common ground across the country, and the tests will reflect what's taught some places better than others. NAEP is still a reasonable attempt to measure the status of K-12 education across the country.

Two old chestnuts come to mind - the first, of course, goes something like "You can weigh a pig as much as you want, but weighing it ain't gonna make it fatter." We've been weighing to distraction since LONG before No Child Left Ahead - starting in earnest in the mid 1970's and, guess what: NAEP scores have been essentially flat ever since. I have and will continue to argue that the insane amount of testing (usually with egregiously poorly made low-bid minimum competency tests like CRCT and Millstones) is making public education worse. We've been not only wasting that money for a very long time, this approach to improving education has actually backfired, widening the gap between the rich and poor, narrowing the curriculum, and ensuring that kids learn to hate learning.

The other is "The beatings will continue until morale improves." We've been beating on teachers with this worthless junk so long that in fact teachers are voting with their feet and leaving in droves. Fewer students are choosing the profession. 

ALWAYS remember that the best leave first. Because they can.

RambleOn84
RambleOn84

@jerryeads "ALWAYS remember that the best leave first. Because they can."


Yep.  And there are more of us leaving every year.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

“Here’s my question: We have now had two decades of unrelenting, dizzying reform, especially here in Georgia where each new governor rolled out initiatives with the promise of improved academic performance (Up next, the Opportunity School District.)

“Are any of them working?”

Here’s my answer: None works across the board simply because none brings nary a fundamentally new hence different paradigm than does traditional K-12 that also does not work across the board.

To the extent we keep on foisting anti-social system thinking via whatever model – school reform, school turnaround, traditional K-12 – we will keep on getting the results we get.  School reform and, most recently, school turnaround (as with Atlanta’s latest superintendent) are just speedier and harsher ways than traditional K-12 for getting the results we get.

Of course, the “free choice and market forces” model is the ultimately selfishness-driven and inane anti-social system thinking model most capable to directly destroy democracy and “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” and usher in an oligarchy of the few, by the few, and for the few.

(As for Atlanta Public Schools and NAEP TUDA 2015 on Reading and Mathematics, see here.)

Retiredmathteacher
Retiredmathteacher

If everyone expects 100% of students graduating from high school to be deemed ready for college work, people will always be disappointed.  If college is to be a rigorous academic preparation for professional and/or advanced work in an academic subject, the bell curve indicates that there will always be a significant percentage of the population that will not be ready and/or will not succeed in college.  If college requires above average work (I certainly hope so, and I am sure you do, too!), then about 50% of the population SHOULD show they are not college material. 


Given that, the 37% college ready figure given is probably not far off, given the very real reality of the bell curve.  I find it reasonable that 13%, or so, of students graduating from high school and not really ready for college could find a path to a college degree, but they may take longer, and they would have to work harder than the 37% to reach the goal.  There would also be a percentage of late bloomers.  There are many stories of inspiration from students in this category.  And, certainly, there can be some students in the below 50% that can make it through college.


You can do all the social engineering you want, you can blame whomever you wish, and you can say that everyone has equal abilities and all students are college prep all you want, but the bell curve will still give you a fairly close approximation of outcomes.


My view is that the testing results merely show that, for all the angst, nashing of teeth, posturing, and money spent for the latest and greatest idea, the current testing just proves that there never was an educational "crisis".  More importantly, the test results seem to prove the very existence of the bell curve.


All of the social engineering of the past 50 years has gotten us nowhere because the goal was never to raise the educational level of America's students.  Instead, the goal was to increase governmental control, power, and influence over local school districts (yes, even by the party that always campaigns on the platform of "local control").  A second goal was to pay off campaign contributors by the establishment of educational industrial complex.  Take a quick look at the money flowing to testing companies who design and sell both the tests, which are really of poor quality and poor corelation, and the materials for "preparing" for the test.  The materials are, generally, also of poor quality and poor corelation.


Where do we go from here?  1. Create a quality college prep curriculum, challenge the heck out of those students who choose to take the curriculum, and demand the students do well.  2.  Create an effective work force and life skills curriculum, challenge the heck out of those students who choose to take the curriculum, and demand the students do well.  3.  Create a climate under which it is adventageous for universities and four year colleges to only admit those likely to succeed with curricula that are clearly the next step.  4. Support the community colleges in their very real and important mission to provide a bridge for the not ready for full college, but willing to work to get it student.  5.  Stop trying to be everything to everybody at every moment.  6.  Demand the legislative branches of government stop meddling in the above curricula by continuing to pass legislation for their pet political philosophies.  7.  Most importantly, once the above is agreed upon, it must be in place for at least 15 years before anything other than minor tweaks will be attempted.


One last thought.  It is said that a candidate for the office of Governor of Iowa gave a speech in which he promised, if elected, that he would enact educational reforms so that every child in Iowa would score above average on the Iowa test of basic skills, regardless of ability.  Of course, he was laughed off the stage, and he lost the election.


Yet, is that not exactly what almost all political interference in public education has tried to do in the last 50 years???

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

@Retiredmathteacher Of course, that pesky bell curve tends to disrupt the liberal "equality of outcome" they try to force on everyone else.


Not coincidentally, "equality of outcome" (the same tired argument for forced wealth redistribution) is the "solution" that's pushed in this article.

Legong
Legong

Education reforms aren't working because they're mostly about preserving the jobs of "reformers" while getting them safely to an attractive retirement.

bu22
bu22

I believe the percentage of public school children on free or reduced lunch has climbed over 50%. Poorer people are having disproportionately more kids.  Even though adult poverty is staying about the same, more kids are there.  These numbers may also be influenced by a growth in parents choosing private schools or home schooling.  I haven't seen actual national numbers, but it seems private school enrollment is increasing.  Home schoolers are increasing significantly.  That would make the population getting tested poorer than the nation as a whole.

bu22
bu22

@sneakpeakintoeducation @xxxzzz I've seen the national numbers on free lunch, but don't have a link handy.  There are lots of reports that the poverty rate is about the same and but that the number of kids in poverty is growing, but again I don't have a link handy.  Home schooling is growing by leaps and bounds.  I don't know what private school enrollment is doing-that part is just my opinion from anecdotal evidence.  As for the last sentence, that mathematically follows from a growth in home schoolers and private schoolers.

PattiGhezzi
PattiGhezzi

Why aren't reforms working? Because the political establishment is in the driver's seat and has made bulldozing the teaching profession its top priority. 

bu22
bu22

Maybe I haven't heard it, but President Obama should have been promoting hard work in getting an education in Black communities.  "Work hard and you could become president!"  He has creditability as he did it himself.   Instead he's been giving excuses for not succeeding, focusing on things like suspension rates.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaureenDowney @xxxzzz This is all well and good.However, the reality is quite different, as Diane Ravitch introduces here and concludes by asking: “Why would a Democratic president [Barack Obama] front for the corporate takeover of public education?”

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@xxxzzz You haven't heard it as he has said it -- the President often talks about student effort, such as in this speech. Here is an excerpt and link is included. 


When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.    Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.  I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.  But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.  And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/MediaResources/PreparedSchoolRemarks/

liberal4life
liberal4life

We have no idea how our students were doing BEFORE the NAEP. My guess is that they weren't doing that much better. Once you have a large system, a huge change is very unlikely. We can get "statistically significant" differences, but they can be the difference in one question.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

These reforms don't work because they are pushed by companies that profit from changing the materials, the testing, the curricula every few years. You can see them acknowledge that in the Project Veritas videos of execs from these companies. They describe that these things are never about the kids. There is no money for these companies in academic success. They need to retest and reeducate the kids and teachers who fail. They need to come up with academic support systems and software to help. When academic success happens, they lose their revenue stream. So time for a new reform! It is interesting to note that the children of most of the execs of these companies attend technology free and reform free (common core free) schools.

Parents & taxpayers
Parents & taxpayers

We've lived through a half-century of failed education "reforms" and empty promises. Now the establishment seeks to blame their failures not on the almost complete lack of free choice and market forces in K-12 schooling -- but rather on "poverty."

Which fits neatly into their favorite political party's election message.

liberal4life
liberal4life

@Parents & taxpayers 

I'm sure we all want our public schools to do better - maybe I'm assuming too much. However, I think we cannot completely discount the fact that there are many more students who have managed to get much more education that it was possible for them when there were "free choices" (really?) and only those who can afford can go to schools.

Joad
Joad

The NAEP is totally meaningless.  Random classes are picked without warning to take a standardized test that means absolutely nothing to them in any way.  They mark answers and move on.

redweather
redweather

@MaureenDowney @Joad I see the proof of this every semester when high percentages of high school graduates struggle in first year college courses. I suspect many of them realize how unprepared they are; that's why they give up.

liberal4life
liberal4life

@Joad 

I think you can serve as the exhibit #1 for the failure of mathematics (statistics) education in the US.