Funny how all the sucky teachers just happen to teach poor kids, isn't it? What are the odds?
A quick look at the NEAP results tells us CT's lower-income students do not, in fact, do well compared to NJ and MA. Is that because the teachers in poor NJ and MA schools suck less than CT teachers in poor schools?
According to these guys, yeah, pretty much:
We think folks would be hard-pressed to argue that low-income students right over the border in Massachusetts or New Jersey face very different circumstances at home than the low-income students in Connecticut. So, what actions have our neighboring states taken to address their achievement gaps that Connecticut hasn’t? Put bluntly, they have adopted education reform policies very similar to the ones proposed in Governor Malloy’s original education reform bill. They have adopted or implemented policies that evaluate teachers on the basis of student performance, that rank schools and districts within a tiered intervention framework, and that provide the Commissioner with the authority to intervene in the lowest performing schools and districts. [emphasis mine]I can't speak with authority on MA, but I can tell you that this is dead wrong regarding NJ. The new teacher evaluation system is only in its pilot stage; how could it possibly affect student achievement throughout the state when it hasn't even been implemented?
The link here for "authority to intervene" takes us to this:
Again: none of this has yet been implemented. How could it possibly affect student achievement when we're not even doing it?!
And ranking schools by tiers is nice, but who cares if you're not doing anything after the ranking?
So why are CT's low-income kids lagging behind MA's and NJ's? Bruce Baker spells it out:
These reformyists have convinced themselves that money doesn't matter, but evaluating teachers with flawed systems that haven't even been implemented does. And rather than be embarrassed by this absurd position, they sanctimoniously claim the moral high ground:Previously, Guryan (2003) found:Using state aid formulas as instruments, I find that increases in per-pupil spending led to significant increases in math, reading, science, and social studies test scores for 4th- and 8th-grade students. The magnitudes imply a $1,000 increase in per-pupil spending leads to about a third to a half of a standard-deviation increase in average test scores. It is noted that the state aid driving the estimates is targeted to under-funded school districts, which may have atypical returns to additional expenditures. (p. 1)Although Hanushek and Lindseth concede that Massachusetts reforms appear successful, they failed to cite Guryan’s NBER working paper, the inclusion of which would have (like most other omitted studies) weakened their overall conclusions about the non-impact of these reforms.Turning to New Jersey, two recent (though not yet peer-reviewed) studies find positive effects of that state’s finance reforms. Alexandra Resch (2008), in a study published as a dissertation for the economics department at the University of Michigan, found evidence suggesting that New Jersey Abbott districts “directed the added resources largely to instructional personnel” (p. 1) such as additional teachers and support staff. She also concluded that this increase in funding and spending improved the achievement of students in the affected school districts. Looking at the statewide 11th grade assessment (“the only test that spans the policy change”), she found “that the policy improves test scores for minority students in the affected districts by one-fifth to one-quarter of a standard deviation” (p. 1). [emphasis mine]
We think it’s time to stop using the excuse that our schools can’t be held responsible for ensuring that low-income children learn and are held to high expectations. We think it’s time to start holding our schools accountable for providing a high-quality education to all students – as all of our neighboring states have taken significant strides in doing.If they really cared about improving low-income schools, they'd be demanding that CT follow NJ's and MA's lead and get more funds to the kids who need it the most. Instead, they tout the "success" of reformy measures that haven't even been put into place.
CCER is at the center of the reformy network in CT. Jon Pelto gives all the seamy details if you're so inclined; suffice to say, all of the usual suspects are involved, and they have well-heeled backers:
Finally, calling themselves the “Connecticut Council for Education Reform” top executives from New Alliance Bank, The Hartford Insurance Company, UBS Private Wealth Office, Yale New Haven Hospital System, Webster Bank, The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, Nestle Waters North America, First Niagara Financial Group, Yale University, the Travelers Companies, Inc., the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, United Illuminating Holdings Corporation and GE Asset Management have joined together to hire staff and lobbyists to push Malloy’s “Education Reform” plan.I wonder how these "top executives" feel about an explanation for MA's and NJ's smaller achievement gap that includes "reforms" that haven't even been implemented. I wonder how long their businesses would last if they made decisions with this same lack of logic.