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Want to clean up public schools? Better not work there ...

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by novelist_wannabe, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    OK, so the subject line is something of a broad brush. Still, this story about how whistleblowers have been treated in the Atlanta Public School System is fairly chilling. There really isn't anywhere this can't happen.

  2. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I'm going to say cheating would not be tolerated in 99 percent of schools. I know of teachers in my district who were caught cheating and sent packing the next day.

    But in the NCLB mania of the current school system, I could easily see this happening.

    There is something called SACS accredidation. If a school division has this pulled, it is like what happened to SMU football in the 1980s. It happened to an Atlanta area county school division, and is what should prevent a division doing this.

    But as we neat 100 percent pass rates on all tests (2014 I think), you are going to see this pop up more and more.
  3. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    Not to excuse the conduct, but if you're going to fund schools based on their standardized test scores, you've given them a greater incentive to cheat. Especially if there are bonuses for improvement. That's why I find what happened to the teacher sad, but not terribly surprising.

    The cheating isn't just for the schools. I had friends who had their kids tested to get into a magnet in the Chicago Public Schools. They said it was readily apparent that cheating was going on. For example, older siblings were posing as their younger siblings to take the entrance exam.
  4. Crash

    Crash Active Member

    Exactly. And that's one reason why so-called "reformers" pushing for more "accountability" through testing -- and rewarding teachers financially for higher test scores -- are off base. Another is that states and school districts have lowered what constitutes proficiency, so that students who ordinarily couldn't pass these tests are all the sudden passing in the 60th percentile or higher.

    It's not that testing and merit pay are bad things. But to implement standardized testing correctly, it has to be done with standardized curriculum. Without specifically standard curriculum, there's no point to standardized testing.

    The people in charge of "reforming" education have completely lost focus of the actual problems. There are too many legislators, businessmen and moneyed interests and not enough teachers, administrators and scholars working on education reform.
  5. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    This. One of the better interviews I had covering education was with one of the folks who wrote standardized tests, and he told me (to paraphrase heavily) that they are useless for measuring the things reformers are trying to force them to measure.

    I would like to see a real, one-size-fits-all standards test put in place cross country that was not used to punish districts but to just coldly and impersonally measure what the hell kids were learning, gathered over a period of five to ten years so you had data you could actually draw some conclusions from. I don't think these tests have any place in WE MUST DO THIS TOMORROW!!!! reform efforts.

    Granted, I do not know what does, other than to find the schools that are churning out college- or job-ready graduates and blatantly copy them.
  6. Crash

    Crash Active Member

    There's two problems with the carbon copy model of education reform.

    One, no two school districts are alike. The school districts in Birmingham aren't facing the same obstacles as the school districts in New York or Chicago. Even more, the school districts in Podunk County, Alabama aren't facing the same obstacles as those in Birmingham. So to carbon copy what works in one district and apply it to a completely different district won't work.

    Two, ed "reformers" just aren't very good at reading real-life success and failure. They look at who's doing what on the tests, but they don't look at the underlying issues in the district and they too often take the districts and states at their word. If they say kids are succeeding and they have any numbers -- even farcical ones -- to back it up, many scholars and reformers will take it as gospel.

    It comes from an admittedly liberal point of view, but if you want to read a good but short-and-easy book about the problems facing American public schools, check out "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" by Diane Ravitch. She was in Bush 41's DoE and a proponent of testing and choice until the data began to show that it wasn't working. She picks apart standardized testing and NCLB with evidence, both data and anecdotal, to back it up.

    Basically, what she found is that we're not educating kids, we're training them to take tests. In the words of one teacher she quotes, many students can't tell you who was president during the Civil War, but they can tell you how to eliminate answers on a multiple choice test. And it works at all levels: states have dumbed down standards to accommodate dumber high school students, which have dumbed down curriculum to accommodate dumber elementary students.

    NCLB, the evisceration of teachers' unions, the charter school movements and standardized testing have all made education worse, or at least, have failed to make it better. And yet there's a predisposition in education policy circles that anyone who doesn't wholeheartedly endorse any or all of those ideas isn't serious about reform.
  7. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    I learned this when I was a Domino's manager: When you judge people by numbers alone, people will massage the numbers to put themselves in the best possible light.
  8. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a HOF thread...
  9. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    I don't know if all states have this situation, but Georgia's kids get a double whammy on the motivation to cheat front. First there's the CRCT mentioned in the article, then there's the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship. It's been widely known for years that schools are either dumbing down their curriculum or padding scores to help kids qualify for HOPE, the qualifcation criteria for which includes high school cumulative GPA and, I think, SAT scores. All of which has produced more HOPE scholarship recipients than were anticipated when the lottery was insituted, and now it's having to be streamlined to cover fewer students.

    Yes, education in Georgia is a hot mess.
  10. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Don't think SAT scores matter for getting a HOPE scholarship. As it stands, a B average gets you a free ride to any public college that will admit you. A low SAT won't cost you a scholarship, it just means you'll be trying to get your party on at Dalton State instead of UGA.
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