I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The One Thing You Must Remember During NJ's Testing Season

Tomorrow, the 2014 NJASK testing season continues as Grades 5 and 6 give up a week of instruction -- all so politicians can moan and charter schools can brag and teachers can be fired and tablets can be sold.

It's all about the kids, dontcha know...

Let me make my little contribution to the chaos: here are three graphs to keep in mind as our students and teachers slog through the bubbles. These are "scatterplots": they show the relationship between two variables. In this case, the relationship is between the percentage of a school's students who qualify for free lunch (a proxy measure for poverty), and average or "mean" test scores.

See how the test scores rise as the poverty falls? Yes, there's some variation, but the correlation between  a school's test scores and its rate of poverty is quite clear. Statistically, nearly three-quarters of the variation in Grade 8 English Language Arts test scores can be explained by poverty.

The relationship is still strong in math: 60 percent of the variation in Grade 8 Math scores can be explained by free lunch eligibility.

And, of course, we all know what the SAT correlates to:

Over two-thirds of the variation in schools' SAT scores can be explained by their poverty rates.

Apparently, we need to pay millions of dollars every year, intrude into students' instruction, cause all sorts of angst, distort curricula, and provide incentives for cheating...

Just to prove, once again, the most obvious thing in the world. We are the only nation that tests all of its children this way; then again, we're the only affluent, developed nation that allows more than one in five of its children to grow up poor. If more testing really helped lift kids out of poverty, no American child would go to bed hungry.

Sleep well tonight, kids, no matter how empty your belly may be; after all, there are a lot of adults counting on you tomorrow...

1 comment:

Rachael Quinn Egan said...

This is wonderful! Thank you for the diagrams. They are very helpful. Such a shame that we can't spend our money on closing the achievement gap by dealing with our real world problem of disadvantaged kids struggling to succeed at school. Instead with Common Core we're spending more money on punitive testing them and gathering data to the point where their teachers have less time to devote to their struggling students.