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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Your Daily Debunk

Just kill me:  
But there’s one set of facts that trumps all the other data: the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the nation’s report card.
The NAEP, which assesses “a representative sampling” of the nation’s fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders, has four student achievement levels: “advanced” (for “superior performance”), “proficient” (for “solid academic performance”), “basic” (for “partial mastery”) and “below basic” (for below partial mastery).
We need all students to attain the level of “proficient” or better.
So what does NAEP tell us about our nation’s eighth-graders, for example? Brace yourself for the bad news: In math, in 2011, 18 percent of our eighth-graders were assessed as below basic, 42 percent were basic, 33 percent were proficient and 7 percent were advanced. In reading, the results are even worse: 24 percent tested below basic, 42 were basic, 31 were proficient and 3 percent were advanced.
This is pretty damning evidence. [emphasis mine]
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong...
From Diane Ravitch's Death and Life of the Great American School System (which, Mike, you really should read):

The term "proficiency" - which is the goal of the law - is not the same as "minimal literacy." The term "proficiency" has been used since the early 1990s by the federal testing program, the National Assessment of Education Progress, where it connotes a very high level of academic achievement. (p. 102)
As real experts like Dr. Ravitch and Ed Fuller and Gerald Bracey have written many times, "proficiency" on the NAEP does not mean "achieving at grade level." It is a much higher bar; everyone who knows anything about education statistics learns this early on.
There is absolutely no informed reason to believe that all of our students should "attain the level of “proficient” or better" on the NAEP. None.

And is it too much to ask that the people who opine in our newspapers about our "horrible" schools know what the hell they are talking about?!

I need a drink...


teachersoccupynj said...

Suddenly when there is money to be made from education reform, everyone is an expert! Great post...I read the same article today. I was happy that many of the people who responded to it online actually made sense and were reasonable.

Mrs. King's music students said...

This is so confusing - are you talkin to me? I am no fan of Ms Ravitch or grandiose generalizations (except when used for dramatic effect). For years and years the NJDOE funded and published scads of ed research in a vacuum while no one but academes paid a bit of attention to it. Some of it was worth a look.

Ultimately, politicians found it useful to co-opt bits and pieces of it to lend THEIR 'reforms' an air of credibility. They're pretty safe there, since we're content to focus all of our attention and wrath on THEIR interpretation of the original body of work. Of course it's easy to shoot holes in their spin. And a good way to keep us running down rabbit holes instead of making distinctions and examining all the data even if we don't particularly like the source.