Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Gradually, and Then All at Once
No surprise to me. That test asked them to think, and that generation has been trained (not educated) to pass a particular kind of exam so (at first) they could graduate from HS and (more recently) so their schools and teachers could get a bonus. That preparation is about skimming and shortcuts for certain styles of questions, not thinking, and certainly not problem solving.
As the inability to deal with "word" problems (coined to be less scary than "story" problems) continues to grow over the past decade or so, I am trying to figure out how to find extra time to teach that 7th grade skill in a college sophomore physics class.
In my country, very few kids live in dorms - my local university in New Zealand only has accommodation for 15% of its students.
So I suspect that the survey is comparing apples and oranges when comparing countries in this age group.
There is no simple answer, because I know what postive results followed when testing was started in the state where I live, but I believe the problem resulted when there was a shift from accountability of students to what you call accountability of schools. It was about 5 years or so after that change that lack of thinking (critical reading) skills became much larger than it had been. I have since learned that a consequence of that change was that even pre-calc and honors classes, where every student had long ago passed the graduation exams, had to devote many weeks to preparation for the Big Test.
(I disagree with your framing, because there is NO actual accountability of "schools" in my state. That is because a large fraction of schools are not part of the accountability system in any fashion, even if they benefit from various state tax expenditures. Their students are only held accountable when they go to college and find out if they have to take "developmental" classes in English or math. Further, data clearly show that abject poverty has a stronger correlation with English skills than the school attended.)
Edmund Dantes -- I object to your statement that "the prior policy of ignoring bad schools indefinitely wasn't acceptable" because this misses the point.
What exactly are bad schools? The idea behind NCLB is that when large numbers of students in a school can't pass the test, it must be something wrong with the teachers or administration. In my experience, however, many schools where large numbers of students can't pass the test have wonderful, hardworking, caring teachers and administrations who do their best with students who are significantly disadvantaged by growing up in poverty (and in cultures where education is not considered important). In some urban neighborhoods, you get the additional disadvantage of serving a huge immigrant community where almost all of the students are not yet proficient in learning English.
All that NCLB has done is to punish teachers and schools who serve needy populations.
"Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality. "
Don't be ridiculous; we weren't ignoring them. There was enormous effort put into making certain they stayed underfunded.
That effort never went away. We just started being meaner to students and teachers AND underfunding the schools -- except now it's worse, because of Expansionary Austerity.
NCLB was, in fact, worse than what came before. We can also all stop pretending conservatives or moderates actually cared about the quality of schools serving poor kids or people of color. That was just so transparently false. So we don't have to keep up the pretense. Semi-benign neglect is massively superior to active malice.
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