Archive for the ‘Standards’ Category

Georgia registers small increase on 2012 ACT scores

State and national ACT scores were released today. At the national level, scores on the college admission exam were flat, while Georgia, where more teens are taking the ACT, saw a slight increase.  (SAT scores will follow in a few weeks.)

A record 52 percent of the the 2012  U.S. high school graduating class took the ACT.  More than a fourth (28 percent) did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in the testing areas of English, mathematics, reading and science; 15 percent met only one of the benchmarks, while 17 percent met two. Only 25 percent of tested 2012 grads met all four ACT benchmarks, unchanged from last year.

“Far too many high school graduates are still falling short academically,” said ACT Chief Executive Officer Jon Whitmore in a statement.  “We need to do more to ensure that our young people improve. The advanced global economy requires American students to perform at their highest level to compete in the future job market and maintain the …

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Algebra for all: A dumbing-down of U.S. math classes that hurt the most elite students

Jacob Vigdor, a professor of public policy and economics at Duke University, wrote an interesting essay earlier this year challenging the conventional wisdom about school discipline. It led to a lot of discussion here on the blog

I suspect we will see a lot discussion around his latest report about U.S. math instruction. In a report for the American Enterprise Institute, Vigdor explains what has gone amiss with American math education.

In a recent essay based on his research — “Does Your Job Really Require Algebra ? — Vigdor writes:

Unfortunately, the misguided transformation of algebra into a course for the masses has proven to be a cure worse than the disease. The transformation has resulted in a less rigorous course. Introductory textbooks have slimmed down considerably over the past century, omitting some subjects entirely. The primary victims of this dumbing-down are the elite students themselves.

Among the most recent cohorts of college graduates, the proportion …

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Are online courses more susceptible to cheating problems?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting story about plagiarism related to Coursera, a new consortium of colleges offering free, non-credit courses. Among the 16-member participant universities are Georgia Tech, Stanford, Duke, Princeton, University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins.

As the Chronicle story notes, plagiarism is a problem even in conventional classrooms, but poses additional challenges in mass-enrolled online courses that rely on peer review and grading of assignments, as does Coursera.

I wrote about the surge in free online college courses a few weeks ago. At this point, the courses — many of which are in the computer sciences realm — do not offer college credit, but certificates of completion.

The Chronicle focuses on complaints of plagiarism in a fantasy and science fiction class being offered by Coursera. This is only an excerpt so please read the full piece before offering a comment.

According to the Chronicle:

Students taking free online courses …

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Not all math classes are the same even in the same school

math (Medium)Researcher William H. Schmidt believes education has become a game of chance in which the odds of success are predicated on factors outside the control of the students, including where they live, the schools they attend, the teachers they have and the textbooks they use.

An internationally recognized researcher on effective math education, Schmidt says that U.S. students lack equal opportunities to learn math, something he saw firsthand when he took sabbatical from Michigan State University to spend a year at the University of Virginia.

As an author of Michigan’s math standards, Schmidt knew his second grader would have been learning multiplication tables up to the number five back home in East Lansing. In Virginia, multiplication was not taught at all in second grade, reinforcing what Schmidt already realized from his international comparisons: All math classes are not equal and students do not have the same opportunities to learn math.

In his new book “Inequality for All: …

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Georgia students return to school and to new Common Core Standards

From the state Department of Education today:

Educators across Georgia will begin teaching the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) in mathematics, English language arts, as well as literacy in science, social studies, and technical subjects, when they return to school this year.

The CCGPS are part of the Common Core State Standards, a state-led initiative developed two years ago in conjunction with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The goal is to establish a uniform set of expectations for what students will learn no matter where they attend school and to ensure that students are ready for college and careers after high school graduation.

“These standards will better prepare our students for success beyond high school and allow us to see how we measure up against other states,” said state School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.  “Also, because we are such a transient society, these standards can help …

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Georgia students say math is too easy. So, why don’t we do better?

There are two views of education in America. One is that we are raising standards — especially in math — beyond the reach of many students and losing them as a result. The second perspective is that most classes are a cakewalk, leaving kids bored and unchallenged.

A new analysis by the Center for American Progress supports the latter. The analysis was based on student questionnaires given to students taking a respected federal benchmark test called NAEP or the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The analysis provides state data, and Georgia exceeds the national average in students reporting math is too easy. In Georgia, 40 percent of fourth graders say math was easy, compared to 37 percent nationally. Yet, we have more students saying that they feel they are always learning in math class.

And while nationally 73 percent of 8th graders say they are not taught about engineering and technology, the rate is only 70 percent in Georgia.

Of course, the question becomes …

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Are the new national academic standards rotten to the (Common) Core?

apple (Medium)Here is another compelling and passionate piece from Pelham City, Ga., school chief Jim Arnold. (You can search the blog for other Arnold essays.)

Arnold takes on the new Common Core Standards, in which former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue played a pivotal leadership role through the National Governor’s Association.

By Jim Arnold

I must state from the outset that I am innately suspicious of the underlying motives or educational benefits of any initiative – Common Core included — supported by the Georgia governor who instituted austerity cuts in 2003, led Georgia to be one of the only states to use teacher furloughs to balance the state budget and consistently under funded public education in order to promote quality fishing.

Common Core is a standardized national curriculum. Why is this problematic? From an historical context, a centralized school curriculum serves the goals of totalitarian states. Jefferson warned us about that.

There are additional issues:

1) There are few …

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Fayette, Forsyth and Decatur lead metro area on CRCT. But all have poverty levels of 25 percent or less.

Speaking of how the CRCT is graded, the Georgia Department of Education released system-wide data today on the 2012 scores.

The highest-scoring metro systems were Fayette, Forsyth and Decatur City, all of which are high-performing systems with relatively low poverty rates.

In terms of low-income students, as measured by students eligible for free/reduced lunches on the most recent state report cards:

19 percent of students are low-income in Forsyth

22 percent of students are low-income in Fayette

25 percent of students are low-income in Decatur

In comparison, consider that Clayton, one of the low performing systems, has 82 percent of  its  students qualifying for free/reduced lunch.  The state average is 57 percent. In Atlanta,  76 percent of students are low-income.

Here is a link to an AJC database of the district scores.

According to the AJC:

Students in Fayette, Forsyth and Decatur City school systems outperformed their metro-area peers on 2012 state exams, according …

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A proponent rethinks cell phones in the classroom

A teacher who argued in favor incorporating cell phones into classroom instruction in a 2010 Education Week essay rethinks that position in a new piece.

Writing in Ed Week about his emerging doubts, Kentucky high school teacher Paul Barnwell says, “While summarizing is a real skill, do we really want students to further fragment their thoughts and attention in this age of incessant digital distraction and stimuli with 140-character blurbs? Do we want students to spend even more time in front of a screen, bypassing opportunities to converse and collaborate face-to-face?”

Here is a short excerpt of Barnwell’s essay “Why Twitter and Facebook Are Not Good Instructional Tools.”

A recent report by the Economic & Social Research Council refutes the notion that today’s youth, the “net generation,” is truly tech savvy. After interviewing and collecting data from 2000 first-year college students in Britain, researchers found that only 21.5 percent of students had blogged, and only 12.1 …

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NAEP science: Students can do experiments and get answers but can’t explain or justify their results

NAEP — known as the Nation’s Report Card — released results today of how American students fared on a new component of its science test that included hands-on, interactive experiments and virtual labs.

The new component was added to the 2009 science assessment. In one example, 12th graders were asked to determine a location for a new town based on an assessment of water quality flowing near that site. Students were asked to test water samples, determine levels of pollutants and then justify the decision where they would locate the new town using the data from the experiment they conducted.

Overall, students could conduct the experiments but were not as skilled in using their data to justify conclusions or writing reports. In one example cited in a webinar this morning on the results, 93 percent of fourth graders got the right answer in a science experiment, but only 32 percent could use the evidence from the experiment to justify their answer.

On the webinar announcing the …

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