February 23, 2011

What Hope for Education?

Justin Katz

My Patch column, this week, questions whether there's much room for optimism about educational success in Rhode Island public schools over the next couple of years:

... the 2010 [NECAP] test was to be the first on which graduation actually would depend. It was do or die for students to achieve at least "partially proficient," and 38% did not. All stops should have been pulled; the urgency among educators should have been near frantic...an extra-effort, contracts-out-the-window kind of frantic. Yet, I can't think of a single concerted example of such dedication amidst the past few years of budget battles, contract negotiations, and work-to-rule actions.

And the result? A mere six percent proficiency gain. It's as if the education establishment knew that the requirements would never hold. ...

When the tests actually count again, the state will have been guided for two years by a union-friendly governor and his hand-picked education bureaucracy. More importantly, educators have now tested the resolve of the state to allow real consequences for systematic failure, and the state proved there to be none. Gist blinked, and at this time, reforms appear to have lost political teeth, rather than gaining them.

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Can you post a link to the data linking improved test scores with better quality education? Seems that "data driven" reform should have lots of that kind of info.

Posted by: Russ at February 23, 2011 8:51 AM

Deming's 3rd Point ("Out of the Crisis," ch. 2):

3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.

As Deming said in "The New Economics:"

Never mind the method. Manage by Results. Wrong....

What is wrong? Numerical goals accomplish nothing. Ranking and reward of individual people, schools, districts, do not improve the system. Only the method is important. By what method? Unfortunately, these goals have been posted in schools, giving pupils and bad start in life--goals without method.

Posted by: Russ at February 24, 2011 12:53 PM

Oops (typo above)...

"...giving pupils a bad start in life..."

Posted by: Russ Conway at February 24, 2011 5:05 PM

Curious, huh? No link to any evidence showing standardized testing improve anything (other than the balance sheets of standardized testing companies). Aren't we supposed to believe this is all "data driven?"

I'm actually surprised. I know most of the evidence is to the contrary, but I thought surely Justin has something showing that the tests have a postitive effect. Is what Bush meant by faith based initiatives?

Posted by: Russ at February 28, 2011 1:03 PM
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