Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

Atlanta’s grades on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ at odds with CRCT cheating scandal

Marshall S. Smith is a former under-secretary in the U. S. Department of Education. Nominated by President Bill Clinton, he served from 1993 to 2000.

Prior to his appointment as Under Secretary, Smith was a professor of education and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Previously, he was an associate professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he also served as the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Smith earned both a master’s (1963) and a doctoral (1970) degree in measurement and statistics from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

In this guest column, he discusses an oddity of the APS cheating scandal: The system was showing notable progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is known as the Nation’s Report Card. It wasn’t that Atlanta was leading the nation, but its progress was significant.

When we have discussed this in the …

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Do weaker math students end up with weaker teachers?

math (Medium)We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the under performance of Georgia students in math.

We’ve debated the controversial and now abandoned math reforms introduced by former state school chief Kathy Cox, which stumbled in part because teachers were not adequately trained. We’ve talked about whether the problem owes to what’s being taught or who’s teaching it

Here’s some fodder to further our debate. Education Week has an interesting piece on new research on math instruction and teacher assignments. Please read the full piece in Ed Week before commenting.

An excerpt:

In many schools in the United States, students struggling the most in mathematics at the start of high school have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject, new research finds. Succeeding in freshman-level mathematics is critical for students to stay on track to high school graduation, with students who make poor grades in math in 8th and 9th grades more likely to leave school …

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How two South Georgia districts ended segregated proms: Lessons from Turner and Montgomery counties

Update Friday: Better Georgia, a self-described progressive advocacy group, asked Gov. Nathan Deal to take a public stand supporting the efforts of four Wilcox County High School seniors to hold an integrated prom in a community where segregated private proms have been the tradition.

The group was disappointed with his response to its request, which addressed who was asking — Better Georgia — rather than the issue of the prom itself.

It sent out this statement today:

According to a report from Macon’s largest television station, 13 WMAZ, the governor’s spokesman, Brian Robinson, said Deal “won’t take sides” because “this is a leftist front group for the state Democratic party and we’re not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt.”

Better Georgia is an independent, non-partisan organization and is not affiliated with any political party. The progressive advocacy group has challenged all Georgia elected officials to publicly support the students of …

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Wilcox school chief applauds student effort to integrate proms, but stresses that these aren’t school events

downeyart (Medium)Wilcox County Schools finds itself in the unflattering eye of a social media storm after reports of its segregated proms — a vestige of 1970s integration when many high schools stopped sponsoring proms and it fell to parents to organize the dances  –  hit the newspapers, TV stations and Facebook.

The south Georgia school system is now addressing the surge in media attention, correcting a few misconceptions. Namely, that it sponsors these black and white proms.

In a general statement, Wilcox Superintendent Steven Smith said:

A recent article stated that Wilcox County High School is hosting its first integrated prom. Unfortunately, the article failed to provide all of the relevant facts related to proms in Wilcox County. Wilcox County High School has never hosted a school-sponsored prom.

In recent history, there have been two private parties that have been referred to as their  “proms” by two different groups of students. When the ladies mentioned in the article …

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US DOE awards Georgia $17.2 million for low performing schools

From US Department of Education:

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Georgia will receive $17.2 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the Education Department’s School Improvement Grant  program. Georgia is one of 13 states that will receive SIG funding.

Six of the states, including Georgia, will receive awards to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools, and six states will receive continuation funds for the third year of implementing a SIG model.

Along with Georgia, the states receiving new awards are: Illinois—$22.2 million; Kansas—$4 million; Massachusetts—$7.2 million; Nevada—$3.8 million and North Carolina—$14.3 million. The seven states receiving continuation awards are: Arkansas—$5.3 million; Delaware—$1.4 million; Florida—$26.8 million; Montana—$1.5 million; New Jersey—$10.4 million; Oregon—$5.4 million; and Washington—$7.8 million.

“When schools fail, our children …

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A ‘kissing cousin’ of segregated proms: segregated high school reunions. Are they common?

A reader of the segregated prom blog sent me a note about something that DeKalb school chief Michael Thurmond referenced in a recent speech, racially segregated class reunions.

Thurmond said that his high school graduating class — he attended high school in Athens and was among the first black students to attend high school with white students — holds two reunions divided by race.  “We have come a long way. But we have a long way to go,” he said.

Like racially segregated proms, these reunion events are not officially sponsored or organized by the high schools, so the guest list can be selective if the organizers so desire.

And apparently, sometimes organizers do limit who’s included in the planning and notifications. A friend went to her high school reunion in South Carolina. She, too, graduated in one of the first integrated classes and expected to see both black and white classmates at the reunion.

But only white students were there.  When she asked one of the organizers …

Continue reading A ‘kissing cousin’ of segregated proms: segregated high school reunions. Are they common? »

Reading between the lines: Florida’s retention program is not worth replicating

Paul Thomas, a Furman University associate professor of education, writes about range of education issues, including the push in South Carolina to follow Florida’s retention policy. This is his second appearance on the Get Schooled blog, but you can read more of his stuff at his “becoming radical” blog.

Thomas sent me this opinion column on the issue of retention. Retention is still one of education’s most hotly debate topics. State policy says Georgia students in grades 3, 5 and 8 should repeat the year when they fail certain standardized tests. But it seldom happens.

The AJC found that districts promote the vast majority of  students even if they fail the retest or blow it off altogether.

Here is an excerpt of the 2008 AJC story:

The AJC obtained state databases — with students’ names removed — that contained spring CRCT scores, summer retest scores and students’ grade level the following fall for 2006 and 2007. In total, the newspaper examined nearly 800,000 …

Continue reading Reading between the lines: Florida’s retention program is not worth replicating »

In black and white: Segregated proms continue but students at Georgia school trying to make history with first integrated prom

The concept of segregated proms in the South shocked people when the AJC and other newspapers wrote about it a few years back. The first question from readers was how this could still be happening.

It happens because the proms are not officially school events, although a great deal of promoting and planning by students occurs within schools.  Since the proms are private parties held off campus without any school funds, schools disavow any control over the events, which are organized by parents and students and reflect historic and lingering racial divides.

In the news this week is an effort by students in Wilcox County High School to finally end the tradition there of segregated proms. Homecoming dances are also segregated there.

The teens are trying to raise money for an “Integrated Prom,” which would be the first ever in the rural Georgia county. They began a Facebook page yesterday to garner support. When I began this blog this morning, they had 300 “Likes.” They now have …

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Bieber fever leads schools in Norway to reschedule exams. Can’t ever see that happening here.

Some schools in Norway are rescheduling exams around a Justin Bieber concert. (AP Photo)

Some schools in Norway are rescheduling exams around a Justin Bieber concert. (AP Photo)

No government official in the United States would shrug off a decision by schools to reschedule exams so students could attend a Justin Bieber concert. Such a decision here would be met with indignant speeches about skewed priorities.

Nor can I imagine any U.S. education secretary saying, “We’ve all been 14-years-old and know that interests can be intense.” Not unless they were willing to dodge brickbats and the histrionics of talk radio.

But education and politics are apparently more relaxed in Norway.

According to the AJC:

Five schools in western Norway have rescheduled their midterm exams to allow students to attend upcoming Justin Bieber concerts in the capital, the country’s Ministry of Education and Research said Wednesday.

The Canadian pop star is scheduled to perform in the Norwegian capital on April 16 and 17 — stoking fears that some students in remote schools will skip midterm …

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Alfie Kohn on APS cheating scandal: ‘What if we gave a test and nobody came?’

testing (Medium)I interviewed education advocate and writer Alfie Kohn a while back. You can read the 2011 interview here.

The APS cheating scandal was in the news at the time, and Kohn told me:

The real cheating scandal that has been going on for years is that kids are being cheated out of meaningful learning by focusing on test scores. Standardized tests like the CRCT measure what matters least. The more you know about education, the less likely you would ever be to measure teachers, schools or kids based on test scores.

I wondered what Kohn, author of “The Case Against Standardized Testing” and other books, thought about the indictments Friday of former APS school chief Beverly Hall and 34 others.

I asked him a few questions for an editorial I am writing for the print AJC.

Here are his answers in full:

Standardized tests are lousy measures of thinking. They assess some combination of (a) family wealth and (b) how much time has been diverted from real learning in order to make kids better …

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