Following “pass or perish” path in education, we’ve lost our way

If there is any silver lining to the APS cheating scandal, it may be the greater scrutiny of testing and its increasing role in American education.

Testing was the bedrock of the sweeping federal No Child Left Behind Act and may play an ever larger role in Race to the Top because of the provisions to base teacher evaluations and pay on student performance as measured in part — unclear how large a part –  on test scores.

I asked our own volunteer Get Schooled testing expert –  Jerry Eads — to share his view on what has happened in APS and what it says to the larger issue of test-driven education. Formerly coordinator, research and evaluation, for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, Jerry agreed.

Here is his response:

Gerald Bracey, my dear departed friend whose life was dedicated to pointing out the many educational emperors who had no clothes, would be very pleased, perhaps even proud of you and the AJC reporters, Maureen. I saw ethics problems many years ago when running state testing for Virginia.

I was one of the first in the country to implement a “cheating checker” in the state’s scoring system for its minimum competency testing. Soon after I moved here more than a decade ago, I saw a hint of the APS issues when the then head of the Southern Regional Education Board and a member of APS’ community advisory group – called me to ask if the changes in pass rates were possible. I gave him the proper statistician’s answer: “Possible? Yes. But the probability is astronomically tiny.”

Not all that long thereafter, the AJC smelled something funny and followed its professional nose.  If it hadn’t been for the AJC and its wonderfully traditional never quit journalism, this particular case of impropriety at APS likely would still be going full steam.

It appears that because of your work, the questions that Bracey, and Monty Neill and Robert Schaeffer at FairTest, nationally recognized testing experts like Walt Haney at Boston (quoted in the Sunday’s paper), and hundreds of others (including little folk like me) have raised now for decades has finally come to the fore of national education policy discussion. It is tragic that any — much less our own — inner-city school district had to be utterly decimated to finally get the attention of the seemingly hopelessly and permanently naïve state and national policymakers.

You ask the right questions, Maureen, but NCLB and self-seekers (or worse) such as Hall, Augustine, Rhee and Paige didn’t start us down this path. The people who should be taken to task are not just those in the districts and schools who are ethically challenged but the policymakers who initiated minimum competency testing and the egregiously shortsighted “pass or perish” policies more than three decades ago – and those who continued them in the face of the overwhelming evidence that neither low-bid pass-fail testing nor punitive policy has had any positive effect on children’s education.

We do care, of course, whether the 5th to 15th percentile students targeted by minimum competency tests are served. But not at the expense of the other 90 percent, and this neglect is precisely the impact of CRCT (and End of Course Tests and the Georgia High School Graduation Tests) minimum competency testing.

I fear that we will hear many policymakers crow about the wonders of value-added testing in the coming years as the solution to make “pass or perish” work. Locally, that’s in no small part an effort to hang on to the pittance tossed our way by the present federal administration. With decent tests and a usable curriculum, such testing at least broadens the myopic focus on the tiny group of students right around the “cut score,” but it’s STILL “pass or perish.”

Sadly, the evidence is very strong that “value-added” testing will be no solution to minimum competency (CRCT etc.) testing. It has been shown time and again that the growth estimates derived from “value-added” testing are grossly inaccurate. Frequently, this testing is so inaccurate that those teachers in the top third one year are in the bottom third the next.

Worse, the same failed “pass or perish” mentality still forms the policy basis of how to produce education change. We are still the insane – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting something different. As the old adage goes, you can weigh a pig as much as you want, but if you don’t feed it, it just isn’t going to get any heavier. You can change to a more expensive scale – from low-bid minimum competency testing to “value added” — but the pig STILL isn’t going to get any heavier.

You recently provided a post using sales quotas as a parallel to our testing. Indeed, as has been shown by the APS tragedy – which is according to FairTest just a tiny tip of the iceberg nationally – if you put people in untenable positions, they will do what they have to in order to survive.

Would we rather teachers quit, lose their homes and let their children starve when faced with being forced to cheat? A number of your posters seem to think so, but chances are they, too, would do precisely the same thing in the same predicament.

“Value-added” testing does not at all solve that problem. Knowing that with grossly unreliable once-a-year tests teachers and administrators will face humiliating labels and possible termination, some will find ways to survive.

We’ve tried “pass or perish” for well over three decades. NEVER has it helped kids. D’ya think maybe we should try something else?

Jerry Eads

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

185 comments Add your comment

Double Zero Eight

July 13th, 2011
10:51 am

Excellent analysis. Maybe the bloggers will have a different
perspective after reading this piece.

George P Burdell

July 13th, 2011
10:57 am

Tests do not cheat; people cheat.
People were cheating before tests: they allowed poor students to move on to the next grade even if they did not learn anything.
The tests are like a fire alarm; blaming the fire alarm for the fire is ridiculous.
People who oppose testing should describe and be held accountable for their proposed alternative.

Mom

July 13th, 2011
10:57 am

What is Value Added Testing? How does it differ from the CRCT?

Paulo977

July 13th, 2011
11:01 am

Mom

the CRCT is value loaded!!!!!

Tony

July 13th, 2011
11:07 am

Jerry hits the nail squarely on the head. Misguided policy makers continue to push us down the same path even though we no it is the wrong one. The “new” mantra of “value-added” is not going to help either. While George P Burdell is right about the fire alarm not causing the fire, I’m sure he would work quickly to replace a broken fire alarm with one that works.

MrLiberty

July 13th, 2011
11:14 am

The system is based on the socialism and theft. Parent are not expected to pay for their own children’s education but the rest of society is. There is no sense or expectation of personal responsibility. In fact, it is discouraged by the process. Parents are removed from the education of their children and the state has assumed total control.

With these fundamentally immoral foundations for government education, nobody should be surprised at this kind of outcome.

The problem will not go away until ALL responsibility is put back onto the parents and until government is COMPLETELY out of the education and theft/funding business related to it.

Mac

July 13th, 2011
11:16 am

Jerry – thank you for stating this so well! Having been forced out of a district for refusing to comply with unethical manipulation to create a false picture of achievement I can only hope this mess in Atlanta helps people to understand the horrible consequences of the current way things are being done in education.

Value Added will be the worst thing to hit education.

exvietnamexteacher

July 13th, 2011
11:16 am

Part of the problem with APS is DISCIPLINE! from 1ST TO 12TH GRADE, APS refuses to discipline the students. It is very difficult, if not impossible , to teach/learn without DISCIPLINE. Until APS faces and deals with THE DISCIPLINE problem not much will change.

td

July 13th, 2011
11:20 am

With all of these morally corrupt administrators and unfortunately teachers not really educating our children and the movement to do away with standardized test then how are we going to hold districts, administrators and teachers accountable? How are we going to make sure our children are actually learning?

ITK

July 13th, 2011
11:20 am

This is one of the most cogent descriptions I’ve read regarding this nation’s flawed approach to assessment policy. Thank you for posting it, Maureen. I wish you’d forward it to Arne Duncan, et al.

Mac

July 13th, 2011
11:20 am

@td By being an involved parent.

Toco Hills mom

July 13th, 2011
11:25 am

@MrLiberty – sorry, wrong; plenty of us went through the public schools in the past 50 years and succeeded. Plenty of us attended and graduated from public schools that worked. You cannot just blather anti-public-school nonsense and pretend it’s any kind of solution at all.

Jeff Owens

July 13th, 2011
11:26 am

APS is exactly why “Pay for Performance” will not work. It is impossible unless teachers are teaching equal students. Do away with tenure and get rid of sorry teachers with bogus degrees would be a starting place.

Dr. Who

July 13th, 2011
11:26 am

So how is that progressive liberal leadership in the school system working for you? We understand that social values is more important than education–right? Really, Johnny must know about and accept homosexuality by the six grade is an example of the direction liberals are taking education. Of course we must take Christain values out of school because it may offend ONE person so to hell with the other 99.99%. This is of course is not the first time progressive liberals have cheated for their ideology and so called superior talents. Of course I did flinch when Maureen said,” If it hadn’t been for the AJC and its wonderfully traditional never quit journalism,”. AJC has always been for those social values and always have put them in the lime light. When progressivel liberals stop proselytizing for progressive values then only will the education system have real value.

Dr. Who

July 13th, 2011
11:28 am

Toco Hills mom

July 13th, 2011
11:25 am
I dont remember having these problems 50 years ago TOCO Hills mom. Maybe that is the answer?

Fred

July 13th, 2011
11:30 am

Would we rather teachers quit, lose their homes and let their children starve when faced with being forced to cheat? A number of your posters seem to think so, but chances are they, too, would do precisely the same thing in the same predicament.

This statement speaks volume of the realities operational workers, in this case teachers, face. One should also ask, who put the pressures on those in charge to achieve unrealistic teaching goals.

There is enough blame to go around….

Veteran teacher, 2

July 13th, 2011
11:31 am

Most of the teachers who regularly post on this blog have been saying similar things for years. I would also add that those who promote testing are generally looking for quick fixes, and testing is a bulying stick for short, and probably temporary, gains. All teachers know that learning is not an instant enterprise. We also know that true learning may not necessarily be measured by any one test on a specific day.

Please just let me teach!!

oldtimer

July 13th, 2011
11:36 am

td…I knew my children were actually learning by talking to them, supervising projects, looking at the tests they brought home, looking at textbooks and quizing them myself. This is not very hard. I would never rely on something so simple as the state CRCT or Graduation Tests. These are very basic and should not be taken to mean your children are learning even at the “exceeds” level.

ATL = Kids Don't Learn So Well

July 13th, 2011
11:36 am

Which school system looks worse now: APS or Clayton County?

dc

July 13th, 2011
11:36 am

Every business has measurements (sales quotas, budgets, etc), and has to live with them. Govt (including schools) needs to do the same. Enron and APS are examples of folks who tried to cheat the system. In both cases, the issue isn’t the measurement system, it’s the fact that an environment of cheating was not only allowed but encouraged and rewarded.

Keep the value added measurement system, as it’s the only viable option so far for helping measure teacher’s impact to students. Just put in place control systems similar to what businesses are having to deal with after Enron.

But please…..keep finding ways to 1) identify and reward good teachers, and 2) identify and fix/remove bad teachers. Otherwise, the good ones will end up giving up and quitting (either leaving or just in place)

coachx

July 13th, 2011
11:36 am

Correlating teachers pay with their testing scores is a recipe for disaster.

Easpcially in school districts where students are not the brightest. The reason why Atlanta school children perform so poorly as a whole is b/c the parenting at home is lacking as a whole.

Stop blaming teachers………….blame the parents.

coachx

July 13th, 2011
11:42 am

To the 50 years ago things were better crowd………………50 years ago schools were still segrated. It was a different reality then what we now have.

Majority black schools are still trying to catch up. I came from a HS that was 85% black so I know this reality. In grades K-5 – 7th grade I was ina 90% white school district. From 8th – 12th grade I was in a 85% black school district. The diffrence was night and day and had nothing to do with the teachers. The students simply acted and behaved differently and the parenting, or lack there of, was very obvious.

Parents have to be parents…………especially for African Americans. Lets face it, the Atlanta issue is centered around us.

TAB

July 13th, 2011
11:43 am

Bingo Bango! Nothing changes until parents take responsibility for their children. Some children are someone else’s (government) responsibility at conception. Teachers can identify children with responsible parents in about two minutes. They are listening,are engaged ,and are not keeping others from learning. I agree that we are focusing to hard on the 5% and 15%. Some of us are not going to be doctors or lawyers or catch up to grade level. Their beginning and environment prevent that from happening no matter what teachers do at school. ‘We must understand that and not neglect the 90% kids.

lyncoln

July 13th, 2011
11:44 am

To respond to the question of what is value added testing,

The basic idea is that at the beginning of the year you give a test to each student to know what they know at the start of the year. Then you give another test at the end of the year to the same student. The difference in the scores is how much the student learned during the year (the value added).

Value added testing would (in theory) show you which teachers added the most value (taught the most to their students) and show you the best teachers and the worst teachers.

As Jerry commented, there is reasearch that says that value added doesn’t work particularly well at judging how good an individual teacher is.

Teacher Reader

July 13th, 2011
11:55 am

@ Toco Hills Mom I went through public school in the eighties, graduated high school in 1990 and began teaching in public school in 1996 and can confirm that our schools changed significantly from when I attended in the eighties to 1996 and throughout my fifteen year teaching career that I ended in DCSS in May of 2010. Public schools have changed significantly and not for the better.

As products of public schools, and being a former public school teacher, I cannot send my child to a public school, as I want a better educated future for him.

www.honeyfern.org

July 13th, 2011
12:00 pm

This not a liberal v. conservative issue. Stop making it about politics and ego. This is about what best demonstrates whether or not students can read, read, compute and think critically at various stages in their education. It is about whether or not students can process, transform and apply information from multiple sources through multiple media and present their understanding with different technologies. Typically, standardized testing does not accurately demonstrate these abilities, and performance-based portfolio assessment does. Not only does the latter show the product, but over time it can also illustrate the process and any gaps that need filling.

Portfolio assessment is time consuming and difficult (impossible?) to standardize, so using it in conjunction with a standardized test can be helpful if the test is considered a snapshot only – one day’s work that may have been different on a different day, but nevertheless a moment in a student’s academic career.

We need to re-think how we assess and stop making it all about the adults and their political beliefs. If you are not here to discuss how to really educate students without worrying about which party is front and center and who gets credit, then you don’t belong in eductaion.

BillM

July 13th, 2011
12:05 pm

I have a different perspective. Taxpayers have been asked to give up ever incrasing amounts of money to fund education. In exchange, taxpayers have asked that there be accountablity for the increased funding. They have all been consumers…err…students in school. They know and love their good teachers but remember the teachers who went through the motions or who are simply ineffective in the class room.
They are unwilling to offer up more money without some assurance that the money is flowing to good outcomes and good teachers.
Now come the teachers and their quasi unions. Evaluations of the teachers are out because teachers don’t trust principals. Quantified tests are now being attacked becasue teachers and administrators cant resist cheating and because the tests are imperfect instruments.
I suggest that the education establshment come up with a means for the public to have assurance that the hundreds of millions that we spend are being spent well and wisely. If you don’t, the money will stop flowing. it’s as simple as that. Too many of us are home schooling or private schooling or done with school or don’t have kids or are utterly disgusted with education’s inability to solve its problems.
The coming votes on extending the penny sales tax in metro counties is likely to be more of a fight than the educational establishment is expecting.

another comment

July 13th, 2011
12:15 pm

My daughter has a white friend who was adopted as a baby by her older parents out of Foster care from a less diverse state. These parents are college educated, in fact the father has worked for Universities his whole career. They had already raised their own two biological son’s, when they decided to adopt, first one then two foster babies they had. Both of these foster babies were born to different mothers who were wards of the juvenial justace system in their home state.

My daughter’s 11 year girl friend was the 4th child of an 18 year old mother. It is clear that both parents were substance abusers. The first 3 daughter’s she had were raised by family. Luckily, this child was given up for adoption and got a loving educated family, with a stay at home mom. However, the use of the substance’s by the parents during those 9 months is apparent. My 16 year old noticed that “G” can’t tie her shoes and when she has laces has my daughter do it, or just wears crocks. But the real thing that is apparent is that “G” failed 5th grade math every single marking period last year with an F. The father worked with her nightly, she just did not get it. She was put in a slower class and given that extra prep for the CRCT. The parents thought she was going to flunk the CRCT. But low and behold she passed the CRCT with flying colors. This is in Cobb county, and given a passed to 6th grade. The father who works at a University, told me he still doesn’t beleive it. But she is a September Birthday. So what has he and his wife done, they have enrolled her in Mathnasiam, and she has gone to math tutoring which the parents have paid for, twice a week all summer. She has told me that she finally thinks she is getting Math.

What would have happened to this child if she had not been adopted by carrying middle class educated parents? Parents who realize that passing the CRCT doesn’t mean that their child knows anything. Yes, the kid could have played Pokeman all summer, been at my house, been at the pool, been sleeping. But she didn’t really know the Math, so these parents are biting the bullet and paying for real tutoring. As you can see fake CRCT grades also get the county out of paying for Tutoring cost.

This is in Cobb County, I listen when the kids are over and tell me things. This little girl has told me about everyone in the remedial math classes she was in. Unfortunately, no one else in that class had the parents she did.

td

July 13th, 2011
12:21 pm

oldtimer

July 13th, 2011
11:36 am

I know my own children are learning by the same methods you used in your classroom. I know that the majority of the teachers that my children have had during their educational experience a dedicated and hard working. I also know that they have had some teachers that did not belong in the classroom or out for their own personal gain. I will give you an example: My son is in HS and has a learning disability that effects his ability to grasp English well. He is resourced for English. He had a C in English going into the last 9 weeks of class and ended up with a high B but never had any projects, homework, reading assignments, vocabulary test the last 9 weeks. I asked him daily what they were doing and he told me they were taking practice EOCT. Each one was graded (participation not actual scores) and put in as major grades. See how he pulled a low C to a high B in 9 weeks. He told me the teacher handed out the practise test everyday (Monday-Thursday, Friday was a free day) and she worked on her computer for the whole class. He asked her what she was doing and she told him she was working on her master’s paper. To the teachers benefit, my son passed the EOCT with a high C.

The problem is how do you hold the morally corrupt teachers, administrators, districts and states accountable? Did my son and the other LD students get what they needed in this class. BTW: Said teacher was the “teacher of the year” the previous year.

oldtimer

July 13th, 2011
12:26 pm

Coachx..I went to an integrated Dekalb county school in 1961….50 years ago. It was a great school.
I taught in a mostly black ele. school in Atlata and Dekalb 73-79 wonderful places to teach…. wonderful kids and parents . It was not till 1999-2006 that these schools really changed. Still many good kids and parents, but the roudy ones ruled and administrators stayed in their office. Parents became mean sometimes and testing took over.

angry

July 13th, 2011
12:28 pm

Educrats must hold parents accountable for their childrens’ education. The teachers cannot do it alone. They are with the students for six hours per day, but most parents think that teachers are solely responsible for their children, particualarly those of low SES. These parents complain about buying/replenishing supplies, homework, projects, etc. If teachers require papers to be word processed, they complain that they don’t have a computer. Well, instead of buying cellphones, Nintendo Wiis, and PSPs, invest in your child’s future. In these days and times with the affordability of computers, most children should have one in the home. All parents are not negligent, but those that I have worked with are. They will not attend parent conferences, but they will visit if they think that you have said something to their darling child. The bottom line is we can no longer make excuses for poor parenting. Parents must assume responsibility for their children. We feed them and house them. The least they can do is take responsibility and get involved in their childrens’ education.

catlady

July 13th, 2011
12:32 pm

Good, cogent analysis, Jerry!

Remember the Children

July 13th, 2011
12:33 pm

For 20+ years I taught in a USG University that enrolls many APS high school graduates, and about 5-6 years ago I noticed that the quality of the students in my undergraduate classes really seemed to have worsened. Their papers were full of grammatical errors (”Impossible, Dr.–! I was in AP in high school!”); they usually didn’t finish reading the assignments; they often texted (or tried to until I spoke up) during class. The effects of this decade-plus cheating scandal are not limited to the APS elementary and middle school students.

Clayton Teacher

July 13th, 2011
12:39 pm

Will Dr. Heatley mimic the style of Dr. Davis and treat the teachers with dignity and respect? We can no longer operate in a culture of fear and threat of retaliation. The cheating scandal in APS should be a wake-up call for ALL superintendens and building level administrators with bogus degrees.

Barrister

July 13th, 2011
12:41 pm

If I’m a defense attorney representing one or more of the alleged test cheaters in a criminal prosecution I’m getting some great ideas from this blog.

The more I can spread the blame, the better the odds of getting my client(s) off the hook. So far I’ve got naive policymakers who initiated testing, the pass or perish mentality, poor parenting, poor socio-economic conditions, defective tests – this is great stuff, keep it coming! By the time this gets to a Fulton County Superior Court jury I should able to get some huge malicious prosecution judgments for my client(s). Thanks again!

oldtimer

July 13th, 2011
12:48 pm

I guess we all must live with ourselves td. I am sorry your son had this situation. My own daughter struggled with English and reading all of her school life. She qualified for Sp ED, I never let her go into a resource class. She did all the regular work and we worked twice as hard. She did well in college though she still qualified for extra time on testing. I am not a big proponet of resource classes. It is better to have the extra hands in the regular room as much as possibe.
I am also not a big proponet of differintiated (I kow misspelled) education up to a point. I do believe in allowing some time to redo an assignment or extra time to complete a test…I repeat I am glad I am retired.

mdee

July 13th, 2011
12:51 pm

this is just the tip of the iceberg as a result of ’sowing the wind’… e.g. removing prayer and God’s word from the schools and society. we are now ‘reaping the whirlwind’. the whole board and administration was aware, is responsible and should be held accountable and prosecuted likewise. hall’s (dr?) resume contains a prior history of the same inept behavior. for most, it’s all about political favors, money and what they can get. also, the average worker can be intimidated by fear of losing his/her job. that is real bondage of the heart, mind and soul, what a shame. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”… I had to choose marriage, family and integrity over a ’secure’ career, refused to sell my soul for paycheck. God is said He would and is taking care of us, I have found far greater fulfillment. not easy but what peace!

no one is perfect and we all have different callings in this world, but unless we turn to the foundation God wants us to live on, things will continue to spiral out of control. we have no idea of the good God will do if we turn around but prefer not to want it. many (intelligent) people honestly believe the economy, housing market, unemployment, etc. will suddenly miraclously turn around one day on its’ own. these kids will only learn dishonesty and all the other disgraceful behaviors from ‘leaders’ of this sort. they’ll never know experience truth and love and the best that life has for them, sadly imagine that.

Private School Guy

July 13th, 2011
12:51 pm

If teachers gave out valid grades we would not need to do this. There are students who fail the CRCT that make honor roll. If the grades are valid and there are random checks by outside officials to see if the grades are valid we would not need universal standardized testing like the CRCT. The problem is that the corporate test makers are so influential in American education it is difficult to change what we have now.

Way Back When!

July 13th, 2011
12:54 pm

:) Way Back When Roy Barnes was Governor of the Dirty South State Georgia, I understand that he and the Professional Standards Board were mailed a copy of the CRCT Test that was given to an APS teacher. Nothing was done about it! Absolutely nothing, No investigation! No Interviews! No tip line. I think all testing should be via computer ina all school districts in GA. Georgia still ranks 2nd or 3rd from the bottom of all states in the U.S. The people in charge are clueless and they could careless about the children getting a great education. Georgia and its Education $%$&&&& is TOO POLITICAL! :(

ClaytonTeacher2

July 13th, 2011
12:56 pm

So I wonder how long will it take for the investigators to make their way to Clayton County? I’ve seen it happen and I’m hope this is a wake up call to ALL “decision makers”, you can no longer continue to threaten our jobs and livelihood to achieve these BOGUS scores! Give us some kids on or near grade level and we’ll give you the scores you want. Until then, be happy that my little 7th grader functioning on a 1st grade level made it to 5th grade level in one school year instead of slapping me on the wrist saying you failed! Over the education system in America…it’s clearly just a paycheck!

Digger

July 13th, 2011
12:56 pm

Too much monkey business, for me to get involved in.

Vince

July 13th, 2011
1:01 pm

Great article…..but is it saying anything different than what educators have been saying since the institution of NCLB?

For years, Maureen, teachers and administrators have been writing on this blog attempting to tell the world about the idiocy of NCLB and its testing expectations. This crazy notion that all children have to be able to achieve at grade level is sheer insanity.

Most every day I meet a lay person who doesn’t really understand the testing situation. I tell them, “I am expected to get children with IQ’s in the 50’s and 60’s (formerly know as educable or trainable mentallly retarded) to score at grade level. If I get a child from Sudan or Bhutan in August who has never been in school and doesn’t speak a word of English, I am expected to get them to score at grade level in math and science by April on a test written in English that is all word problems”

Those people look at me and invariably say, “That’s crazy,” and they look at me like they don’t believe me.

Secondly, people use the testing information incorrectly. The AJC is a major player in this. Schools should not be compared using CRCT, ITBS or SAT data. We are not alike. Pope is not Crim is not Brookwood is not Druid Hills is not Jonesboro. A school with a low SAT score might very well be a better school than one that has very high SAT scores. The staff in such a school might be working harder, doing more and making more of a difference than the staff in the high scoring school.

But no one cares.
Educators try to tell people these things, but they won’t listen.

Is there any other profession where everyone with two legs thinks he/she is an expert?

I would never try to tell doctors what they should do, or that they don’t know what they are talking about. I would never try to convince a business person that I know more about economics than they do, or a lawyer that I know more about the law.

Yet, every day journalists and politicians write about education and tell us how to do things and pass laws to make us do things that we know are not sound. The media encourages this and loves the frenzy.

We try to explain, but no one listens. After all, we are just “teachers.”

long time educator

July 13th, 2011
1:02 pm

It is true that as an administrator faced with my school possibly not making AYP because of my special education students, my team and I spent an inordinate amount of time focused on the fence sitters, those close enough to passing on the benchmarker tests that with extra help, they might pass. All these children matter, but our focus was on that small group of special education students whose performance or lack thereof, could create a negative newspaper headline for our school. The news articles never go into the details; just the headlines. The special ed students in my sister schools actually did worse on the test, but they would not be penalized because they were one or two students short of a subgroup. After a few years as an administrator, I began to notice the musical chairs of transferring students to other schools in the county for various reasons, but with the probable goal of staying under the required subgroup number. No one was cheating; but the focus was on doing anything legal to have an advantage. Zoning becomes a really big deal; you don’t want to allow any out of zone remedial students to come in and mess up the school scores. ALL adminstrators were forced to focus on these kinds of issues because of NCLB. Is this really where you want their creative energy to be used? Do we want to focus all this energy on that 5 percent to the neglect of the 95 percent? This is the result of NCLB. I can see how the cheating happened; especially in a situation where there was no honest way to meet the quotas. I am not excusing it, but I do see how it could happen. All over the state, and I would think the nation, these are the kinds of issues our School Improvement Teams are focusing on; how to weight a pig over and over, but get a different number. When you make the test scores of subgroups the main thing, then guess what? It becomes the main thing and learning for the whole school is very secondary. It is just crazy.

Vince

July 13th, 2011
1:10 pm

@Barrister…

If you really are an attorney, then let me explain something by way of an imaginary situation. Suppose the partners in your firm, or the state board itself, stated that you must walk down the street and get the signatures of the first 100 people you meet. The signatures are their agreement that they will enter into business with your firm within the next 6 months and that they will provide at least 10,000 dollars worth of business to your firm within that time frame. Now, it is understood that some of those people you meet will be homeless, some will not speak English, some will be mentally ill and many will be jobless. Nevertheless, that is the expectation. If you do not get 100 signature by 4:00 this afternoon your job with the firm will be terminated.

Get the picture?

sloboffthestreet

July 13th, 2011
1:10 pm

Once again we have the “Educated Torches” burning with a loud chant coming from the mob screaming “Down with the parents.” Then there are the bean counters giving their professional answer, “Possible? Yes. But the probability is astronomically tiny.” Kind of reminds me of running an early user macro program to manufacture airfoils. Just as with our national debt one dosen’t need a degree in education, statistics or finance to see these shortcomings and make a proper prediction. The reason politics is in such turmoil is because politicians only speak to each other and the K Street whores that bear gifts. Education is no different. How professionals can think they are so right and be so wrong is a mystery. Entrenched in failure is not the place to be, but somehow many find great comfort in it and love to self profess their great accomplishments along the way while the results remain dismal. The proof has always been in the puddin and all to often it is not fit for human consumption. Could it possibly be all the cooks or is it just too hot in the kitchen. If the latter is the case, all y’all know what to do.

we r b ing n fected

July 13th, 2011
1:10 pm

Go to the report page 371 Demarris Perryman -Garrett ( formerly APS head for the OIR Office of Internal Resolution) now works for Clayton County Schools Human Resources

A Conservative Voice

July 13th, 2011
1:13 pm

@oldtimer

July 13th, 2011
12:26 pm
Coachx..I went to an integrated Dekalb county school in 1961….50 years ago. It was a great school.

oldtimer, I don’t remember any DeKalb County School that was integrated in 1961……refresh my memory, please.

Vince

July 13th, 2011
1:13 pm

@long term educator

Another person who actually “gets” it!!

sloboffthestreet

July 13th, 2011
1:15 pm

Once again we have the “Educated Torches” burning with a loud chant coming from the mob screaming “Down with the parents.” Then there are the bean counters giving their professional answer, “Possible? Yes. But the probability is astronomically tiny.” Kind of reminds me of running an early user macro program to manufacture airfoils. Just as with our national debt one dosen’t need a degree in education, statistics or finance to see these shortcomings and make a proper prediction. The reason politics is in such turmoil is because politicians only speak to each other and the K Street whores that bear gifts. Education is no different. How professionals can think they are so right and be so wrong is a mystery. Entrenched in failure is not the place to be, but somehow many find great comfort in it and love to self profess their great accomplishments along the way while the results remain dismal. The proof has always been in the puddin and all to often it is not fit for human consumption. Could it possibly be all the cooks or is it just too hot in the kitchen. If the latter is the case all y’all know what to do.

sloboffthestreet

July 13th, 2011
1:16 pm

Once again we have the “Educated Torches” burning with a loud chant coming from the mob screaming “Down with the parents.” Then there are the bean counters giving their professional answer, “Possible? Yes. But the probability is astronomically tiny.” Kind of reminds me of running an early user macro program to manufacture airfoils. Just as with our national debt one dosen’t need a degree in education, statistics or finance to see these shortcomings and make a proper prediction. The reason politics is in such turmoil is because politicians only speak to each other and the K Street who ores that bear gifts. Education is no different. How professionals can think they are so right and be so wrong is a mystery. Entrenched in failure is not the place to be, but somehow many find great comfort in it and love to self profess their great accomplishments along the way while the results remain dismal. The proof has always been in the puddin and all to often it is not fit for human consumption. Could it possibly be all the cooks or is it just too hot in the kitchen. If the latter is the case all y’all know what to do.