Sunday, March 31, 2013

Public Educators Behaving Poorly

I was going to call this "High Stakes Testing Challenges", however that may imply to some that "the Testing/NCLB/AYP made them do it...".  I want folks to remember that students are faced with "high stakes" testing every day, yet we don't expect them to cheat to get better scores.

I mean the Public School Administrators and Teachers create tests and administer them to the students.  These are daunting to many students and the results set their grades, which have a strong impact on their potential future.  How much higher stakes can there be?  Yet we expect the students to work hard and not cheat in the face of this challenge.

NCLB, AYP & Testing did the exact same thing at the district and school level.  And these "adults" chose of their free will to do something that they would not respect or tolerate from their students.  I hope the guilty are punished in this case.  The students deserve and need Teachers that practice what they preach and provide an excellent role model.  Thoughts?

CNN Georgia Educators Indicted
HP Standardized Test Cheating
G2A MN High Stakes Testing
G2A MCA Testing and Links


Anonymous said...

One of the reasons why I skeptical of testing as some sort of panacea. And why I am always skeptical of test results that look too good. A lot of these miracle workers, the Atlanta people, Michelle Rhee who claim they have found the one true path to improve the quality of schools have done it my manipulating the testing process.


John said...

There is manipulation and manipulation...

Teachers and staff that work hard to reinforce the topics and curriculum that will be tested are doing a positive thing. (ie teaching to the test / teaching the required curriculum) They are ensuring the students will be proficient in the areas that will be tested. This a good form of manipulation.

There are apparently others that think to manipulate without ensuring that the students are proficient for self serving purposes. This is an unacceptable form of manipulation.

You must find it somewhat ironic that a system that is based on homework and testing, fears testing... I know I sure do.

Maybe the school system should just give up homework, testing and grades? Then everyone can be a winner whether they learn anything or not... Just think, no stressed out Teachers or Students. Wouldn't that that be a beautiful world. (this paragraph does not necessarily represent the views of G2A, its staff or mgmt...)

John said...

And yes I agree that test results aren't everything. One has to consider the demographics, starting points, social challenges, etc of every class and school before comparing it to another.

A high testing school may be less effective than a lower testing school. I mean how hard can it be to teach kids in Wayzata/Orono... Most of the kids and parents nearly teach themselves... Whereas Robbinsdale has a much more challenging situation.

Anonymous said...

I would be perfectly happy if teachers would "teach to the test." At least they would be teaching /something/. There is a limit to how much a test can tell you, but when 75% of the kids in one school fail the test that 75% of kids in a different school pass easily, it's time to start looking for what the former school can learn from the latter.

J. Ewing

Laurie said...

In the Georgia case it seems the superintendent deserves the most blame. Now that there are fewer sanctions for low test scores there will probably be less cheating.

I still think the tests need to be improved to better measure growth for those students achieving below grade level.

John said...

Are you still determined to ignore the demographics of the student body, the parents, the neighborhood, etc?

I wish there were a national test instead of this silly each state doing something unique. Maybe Obama should bless the MAP tests and get us all comparing progress in the same way.

For proof of capability in order to allow graduation, it seems either the SAT or ACT would work just fine.

Taking away consequences may very well reduce cheating. However it will also reduce the pressure to perform. Meaning the students lose.

Anonymous said...

I am not ignoring demographics. But I believe strongly that demographics cannot be allowed as an excuse for failing to educate. I'm sorry, but when 75% of your students fail a "basic" test, the school needs to be "reconstituted" at minimum.

J. Ewing

Laurie said...

I think teachers are motivated to do their best without threatening to shut down their schools.

I don't think pay for performance works very well in education either.

The Power and Pitfalls of Education Incentives

John said...

I agree that most Teachers and Districts are intrinsically motivated to try hard to teach the students something. However I think many believe "they know" better than the "Std Tests & Curriculum" what is "important" to teach. Therefore they waste time, energy and money by focusing on different things that may or may not be important.

In Robbinsdale District 281, we have IB, AP, Stem, Spanish Immersion, etc. Now which of these will actually help to close the terrible achievement gap in our district? And which are just administrators wanting to be unique and leave a mark?

NCLB, PDCA, AYP, etc all help to promote a common prioritization / expectation which does not exist otherwise.

John said...

If my district got an extra $10,000,000 next year, what do you think they would do with it?

Would they put their money where their mouth is and make a huge investment in closing the achievement gap?

Or would they listen to the "very involved / very influential" parents and expand a magnet, fund the arts, fund more sports, etc?

Or would they listen to the Union that endorsed them and got them elected to raise salaries/benefits?

I am guessing the squeaky influential wheels will get the grease/funding. And the "unlucky kids" with the uninvolved deadbeat parents will get the scraps.

The nice thing about NCLB was that it used to provide a voice for the unlucky kids and demand that they get their due. Too bad Obama quieted that voice.

Anonymous said...

John, your district probably DID get a few extra millions last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. I am guessing that improving test scores (or educational achievement, if you believe they are somehow different, which I don't) is the LAST thing they have spent that money on. Were you aware that Minneapolis now employs more school administrators than teachers?

My theory is that if the schools knew how to educate better than they are doing (and that wouldn't take much), these dedicated professionals would have DONE it, long ago. I'm barely involved yet these results are unacceptable to me. "Good people in a bad system produce bad results" is the only explanation I can find.

J. Ewing

John said...

Per Speed's Post, it does seem that Minneapolis is doing something wrong.

And yes, my district does receive extra funding due to its demographics. And yes they spend some of it to keep the "lucky kids / responsible families" from leaving the district. It is an interesting balancing act.

Focus intensely on helping the unlucky kids / dead beat parents and soon that is all a district will have. Which leads to disaster for all. (ie N Mpls)

Focus hard on keeping the lucky kids / involved parents in the district, there is less funding for those who need the most help. Which leads to the academic gap persisting.

Choices choices...

John said...

Check out these numbers. St Paul has 73% free and reduced lunch, whereas Mpls is only 66%. However the vast majority of Mpls schools appear to be in the ~90% range.

Mpls Free and Reduced Lunch
St Paul Stats

Laurie said...

How about adequate funding for both high achieving and at risk students. The federal govt provides title funding for low income students and English language learners. They could increase the amount. The state govt could also restrict/target certain funds for use only towards closing the achievement gap.

John said...

Laurie says "Raise My Taxes"...

I only say that because the "government" does not have any funds. They have to take more private property from us to raise funding for anything.

Unless you like Hiram's idea the deficit spending is a good answer... Money for nothing...

Increasing funding is an answer, however not necessarily one I support. I would like Public Mgrs and Employees to be more effective with what they have... To drive this behavior, they need incentive.

Laurie said...

I agree with the dfl that any tax increase should be on high income people, not me (though I do voluntarily spend several hundred $ a year for extra materials to teach the at risk students in my charter school)

We also need better superintendents and principals who will make wise budget decisions with the money that schools have. More incentives will not make them any smarter.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the teachers, and it most certainly isn't the funding (although that is just ridiculously too HIGH). The problem is that the incentives are all wrong. Everybody up and down the line gets paid the same whether kids learn or not. Teachers get paid the same, depending on age only, rather than on how well they do. There is zero incentive (or opportunity) to learn how to do it better, other than their own sense of professionalism, and when they DO exercise that, they are usually shut down by the hidebound rules from above.

Good financial management is not required, so long as the politicians (or the public) can be extorted for ever more money every year because it's "for the chillll-dren" when none of it ever finds its way into the classroom. There is no incentive for the school board members to say "no" to any request, for the same reason as the politicians don't. Nobody wants to be held accountable for results and they've got the perfect little racket for avoiding it-- a captive market and "hostages."

Again, I think the only way to succeed is to simply demand accountability for results as a condition for any and all budget increases. Failing schools should be reconstituted or disbanded and the kids given the opportunities they are due.

J. Ewing

John said...

The correct incentives / penalties may not make them smarter, however it certainly will guide their decisions.

This is why most companies offer bonuses or short term incentive compensation that is based on achieving certain goals. And often demote or fire employees and managers that fail to meet the goals consistently.

Unfortunately the public employee unions frown on holding any one person accountable for failure, or rewarding the best and brightest.

So we will probably never know if true carrots and sticks would improve the system's effectiveness and results.

John said...

An example of J's comment was transportation in the Robbinsdale district. We had buses going every which direction until funding final got tight enough that something had to be done about it. We used to have 6+ buses come through our neighborhood every morning and afternoon, it was incredible.

We had the normal elementary, middle school and high school... Then I think the others were for Spanish Immersion, the IB middle school and IB High School. Plus they were running transfer buses between schools.

Now they are reducing cross district busing and they outsourced the service to First Student. Saving a couple million dollars per year. If the money had not been constrained, I am pretty certain these changes would not have occurred.