From a reader:
Diane’s link is to the mobile version, which didn’t work for me. Here’s a YouTube link:
and a link to the slides:
From a reader:
Diane’s link is to the mobile version, which didn’t work for me. Here’s a YouTube link:
and a link to the slides:
Uri Treisman of the Dana Center at the University of Texas spoke about mathematics and equity at the annual NCTM meeting in Denver.
But he spoke about much more. He spoke about student performance on international tests; about the effect of poverty on achievement; about opportunity to learn; about the Common Core; about charter schools; about VAM.
Many who saw his speech said it was the best they had ever heard.
Please watch it. You will be glad you did.
Uri Tresiman of the Dana Center at the University of Texas spoke to the annual NCTM conference about the true needs of American education.
This is an important speech in which he shows how shallow current reforms are and how deeply poverty affects children’s performance in school.
I intend to post this speech twice this week. It is that powerful.
I may post it more than twice.
It meant a lot to me because Dr. Treisman agreed with what I have been saying. We will not narrow the achievement gaps unless we act to reduce poverty. He does not say–nor do I–that schools don’t matter. We agree that schools and teachers matter very much. But so does poverty.
A few days ago, I wrote that if we halved the child poverty rate–now a scandalous 23%–then achievement would score. A faithful reader and blogger who works for a conservative think tank wrote offline to disagree with me. He said that we don’t know how to reduce child poverty, and he doubted that it would matter much even if we did. He countered that if we increased the number of charter schools, then achievement would soar.
I challenge him to watch Dr. Treisman’s speech. Pay particular attention to his evidence about the effects of charter schools.
Jeff Larsen writes:
Okay, I’ll bite. There are problems with some AP courses, but I think you’re painting with a broad brush here. My story is obviously anecdotal, but here at Lowell HS (just outside Grand Rapids, MI), our AP teachers aren’t focused on the test, nor do they teach “a mile wide and an inch deep” (that will happen, however, with Common Core). We take all students who want to attempt the course; those who succeed (in class and on the exam) find themselves better prepared for their first year of college than the average student. I’d also suggest that a 2002 study of AP course rigor isn’t relevant; there have been many changes to the courses over the past 11 years.
It doesn’t matter if my AP Lit students are Harvard-bound (where AP credits mean zilch) or heading to Grand Rapids Community College, they come back to tell me and my colleagues that what we put them through was more difficult than their first year of college.
We’re proud of our US News & World Report ranking because we aren’t one of those selective schools at the top, but we are keeping up with the more affluent districts in our region. It’s easy to take shots at the College Board, Jay Matthews, and the charter schools at the top. But it’s not fair to lump all AP teachers, courses, and (especially) students, into that group.
Full disclosure: I’ve taught AP Lit for 14 years, AP Language for 5, and have worked as an AP Lit Exam Reader for 7. While I take a week’s pay from CB, I know that the time I spend working with other teachers and professors is the most valuable professional development I’ve had in almost 20 years of teaching.
High school rankings by popular media usually take into account how many students take AP exams. Some high schools push students to take AP courses whether or not they are prepared, just to satisfy the rankings. But are the AP courses an appropriate measure of high quality?
A reader responded to an earlier post about the Tucson BASIS charter schools by questioning the value of AP courses and tests:
“Here is the essence of what Tim Steller wrote about BASIS-Tuscon: “the Basis schools require students to take eight AP courses before graduation, take six AP tests and pass at least one…That naturally helps Basis place high in the U.S. News rankings” And, it is ALL about the rankings. And the College Board’s Advanced Placement program (which Diane neglected to mention).
Steller adds this important point in his article about BASIS, made by an education consultant: “AP has pulled the wool over people’s eyes across the nation…”
Actually, it’s the College Board that has “pulled the wool over people’s eyes.” About AP, to be sure. But also about the SAT and PSAT, and Accuplacer, the placement test used by more than 60 percent of community colleges. They’re all mostly worthless, more hype than reality.
Consider the Advanced Placement program, pushed shamelessly buy the College Board, and by Jay Mathews at The Washington Post (Mathews started the Challenge Index, a ranking of high schools based on the number of AP tests they give).
A 2002 National Research Council study of AP courses and tests found them to be a “mile wide and an inch deep” and inconsistent with research-based principles of learning.
A 2004 study by Geiser and Santelices found that “the best predictor of both first- and second-year college grades” is unweighted high school grade point average, and a high school grade point average “weighted with a full bonus point for AP…is invariably the worst predictor of college performance.”
A 2005 study (Klopfenstein and Thomas) found AP students “…generally no more likely than non-AP students to return to school for a second year or to have higher first semester grades.” Moreover, the authors wrote that “close inspection of the [College Board] studies cited reveals that the existing evidence regarding the benefits of AP experience is questionable,” and “AP courses are not a necessary component of a rigorous curriculum.”
A 2006 MIT faculty report noted ““there is ‘a growing body of research’ that students who earn top AP scores and place out of institute introductory courses end up having ‘difficulty’ when taking the next course.”
Two years prior, Harvard “conducted a study that found students who are allowed to skip introductory courses because they have passed a supposedly equivalent AP course do worse in subsequent courses than students who took the introductory courses at Harvard” (Seebach, 2004).
Dartmouth found that high scores on AP psychology tests do NOT translate into college readiness for the next-level course. Indeed, students admit that ““You’re not trying to get educated; you’re trying to look good;” and, “”The focus is on the test and not necessarily on the fundamental knowledge of the material.”
Students know that AP is far more about gaming the college acceptance process than it is learning.
In The ToolBox Revisited (2006), Adelman wrote about those who had misstated his original ToolBox (1999) work: “With the exception of Klopfenstein and Thomas (2005), a spate of recent reports and commentaries on the Advanced Placement program claim that the original ToolBox demonstrated the unique power of AP course work in explaining bachelor’s degree completion. To put it gently, this is a misreading.”
Ademan goes on to say that “Advanced Placement has almost no bearing on entering postsecondary education,” and when examining and statistically quantifying the factors that relate to bachelor’s degree completion, Advanced Placement does NOT “reach the threshold level of significance.”
The 2010 book “AP: A Critical Examination” noted that “Students see AP courses on their transcripts as the ticket ensuring entry into the college of their choice,” yet, “there is a shortage of evidence about the efficacy, cost, and value of these programs.” And this: AP has become “the juggernaut of American high school education,” but “ the research evidence on its value is minimal.”
As Geiser (2007) notes, “systematic differences in student motivation, academic preparation, family background and high-school quality account for much of the observed difference in college outcomes between AP and non-AP students.” College Board-funded studies do not control well for these student characteristics (even the College Board concedes that “interest and motivation” are keys to “success in any course”).
Klopfenstein and Thomas (2010) find that when these demographic characteristics are controlled for, the claims made for AP disappear.
Yet, the myths –– especially about AP, the SAT and PSAT –– endure.
Meanwhile, the College Board is promoting the Common Core and says it has “aligned” (cough, wink) its products with it. And people believe it. Stopping corporate-style “reform and the Common Core is easier said than done. Parents, students and educators are going to have to remove the wool from over their eyes. And that means abandoning blind belief in the College Board and the products it peddles.”
Matt Di Carlo takes a close look at the Newsweek and US News high school rankings and finds that they don’t tell you much about school quality. The information is self-reported. Only about half the high schools responded. The measures favor schools in affluent districts or schools with selective admissions.
This echoes what I heard from a reporter in Arizona. Two charter high schools are at the top end of the US News ratings. One has a tough selection process, accepting only accomplished students. The other requires that students take the AP courses so beloved by the magazine, so it has a high attrition rate.
Bottom line: a good school, as judged by US News, is a selective school that does not accept or retain average or low-performing students.
Crazy Crawfish explains why the Louisiana legislature decided not to repeal its “Science Education Act,” which permits the teaching of New Earth Creationism in public school science classes. It seems that a member of the legislature was healed by a witch doctor so he blocked efforts to repeal the law.
As Crazy Crawfish points out, it’s not all bad:
“Well, on the plus side, at least now Louisiana can start teaching kids how to be certified witch doctors early on in their public school careers. Since none of ouy kids will understand real biology that might be the best we can get for a while. Now all I need to do is corner the “magic bones” market and I bet I could make a killing selling those as school supplies at Walmart next Fall. . .”
Crazy Crawfish reblogged the story from another great Louisiana blogger called CenLamar. I swear these brilliant Louisiana bloggers will bring bring down the Jindal era of meanness and foolishness. They are so doggone good at exposing the official scams, hoaxes, and deceptions, and doing it Louisiana-style. The phonies don’t have a chance.
The Providence Student Union delivered the First Annual State of the Student Address today, right before State Commissioner Denorah Gist gave her annual State of Education Address.
Hello. Attached please find the materials from the Providence Student Union’s First Annual State of the Student Address, including a press release, a list of PSU’s policy recommendations, and a one-page document detailing PSU’s idea for assessment reform.
CONTACT: Hector Perea | Contact@ProvidenceStudentUnion.org | 401-545-1973
STUDENTS COUNTER ED. COMMISSIONER’S “STATE OF EDUCATION” SPEECH –
OFFER THEIR OWN VISION FOR RI EDUCATION IN “STATE OF THE STUDENT” ADDRESS
Providence, Rhode Island – April 30, 2013 – A crowd of students, parents and teachers gathered in front of the State House today before the Commissioner of Education’s yearly State of Education address for what members of the Providence Student Union (PSU) called their First Annual State of the Student Address.
“Commissioner Gist’s education addresses have been one-sided,” said PSU member and Hope High School junior Kelvis Hernandez. “They have not told the full story about Rhode Island education because they have never been given from the student’s perspective. Rhode Island students know what is actually happening in our schools, and we know what needs to change. Today we will offer an alternative vision for how our schools should be improved so that students can meet the high standards we all aspire to achieve.”
During the address, five students from five different high schools in Providence laid out a series of policy recommendations for the Commissioner to focus to improve education in Rhode Island. Leexammarie, a sophomore at Central High School, explained PSU’s suggestions on teaching and curriculum. “We’re told to sit and listen, to do our test prep so we can pass our NECAP and move on. But that’s not how we learn. That’s certainly not how I learn. We need an education that is as creative as we are. We need projects, hands-on learning, debates, and conversations. We need opportunities to do arts and technology and to work in groups. And we need small enough classes where teachers have the flexibility to teach us like individuals.”
Speaking about the need for more funding for school repairs and transportation, Danise Nichols of Mount Pleasant High School said, “If Providence schools get the funding they need to make our buildings safe, healthy, and comfortable for students, and to provide transportation to students, then we will be in a much better position to learn. We don’t think this is too much to ask. Do you?”
PSU members also described the need for a better assessment system than the current high-stakes testing regime. “We need an assessment system that challenges us to really learn – not to just fill in bubbles,” said Cauldierre McKay, a junior at Classical High School. “We should look for inspiration at successful systems like the New York Performance Standards Consortium. These schools require a student to complete four performance-based assessments that show oral and written skill, including an analytic literary essay, a social studies research paper with valid arguments and evidence, a science experiment that shows understanding of the scientific method and an applied math problem. These schools outperform New York schools using high-stakes testing – and we can see why.”
Members of the Providence Student Union said they hoped their event would help re-center the education conversation in Rhode Island back to its proper focus, the needs of students. After describing all their policy recommendations, Cauldierre McKay summed up PSU’s future plans, saying, “Now it’s up to all of us to work, together, to turn these ideas from words into real changes – to convince the Commissioner to give us an education instead of a test.”
There is a new parlor game among the cognoscenti called “Albert Shanker Said This 20 or 30 Years Ago So It Must Be Right.”
Last fall, I had a tiff with New Jersey Commissioner Chris Cerf, who invoked Shanker’s name to support the Christie administration’s push for charters. I patiently explained that Al Shanker was indeed a founding father of the charter movement in 1988, but became a vehement critic of charters in 1993. He decided that charters and vouchers were the same thing, and both would be used to “smash” public education. This is not a matter of speculation. It is on the record.
Now the Shanker blog has an article by Lisa Hansel, former editor of the AFT’s “American Educator” magazine and now an employee of the Core Knowledge Foundation, asserting that Shanker would endorse Common Core if he were alive today. (The Core Knowledge English Language Arts program is now licensed to Amplify, which is run by Joel Klein and owned by Rupert Murdoch.)
Hansel also quotes Shanker as a great admirer of “A Nation at Risk.”
But here is the problem. Hansel speculates about what Shanker would say if he were alive today. She doesn’t know.
Would he join with Jeb Bush to endorse the Common Core? We don’t know.
Would he be as enthusiastic about “A Nation at Risk” in 2013 as he was in 1983, now that it has become the Bible of the privatization movement? We don’t know.
However, I can speculate too. Al Shanker cared passionately about a content-rich curriculum. So do I. Would his love for a content-rich curriculum have caused him to join with those who want to destroy public education? I don’t think so.
Would he have come to realize that “A Nation at Risk” would become not a document for reform but an indictment against public education? If he had, he would have turned against it.
Would he have felt good about Common Core if he knew that it had never been field tested? Would he have been thrilled with the prospect that scores will plummet across the nation, giving fodder to the privatizers? I think not.
Would he have been concerned that the primary writers of the Common Core were the original members of the board of Michelle Rhee’s union-busting StudentsFirst? Absolutely.
Would he have allied himself and his union with those who want to destroy the union and privatize public education? No.
Where would Albert Shanker stand on the Common Core if he were alive today?
I don’t know, and neither does anyone else.
This is crazy, or is it?
We learned the other day that Texas Instruments is a big promoter of Algebra 2 as a graduation requirement in Texas. Why? Civic spirit, love of education, or the fact that TI supplies most of the graphing calculators needed for Algebra 2?
Now we learn from this report that a company selling cursive writing materials is a major proponent of a law requiring same in North Carolina.
Please do not misunderstand the issue here.
I believe that everyone should learn cursive writing, both to do it and to read it.
But I don’t believe that state legislatures should dictate how teachers teach or what methods are best.
I also am a firm believer in the value of knowing the multiplication table by heart, but I don’t think that lawmakers should mandate it.
I love memorizing poetry but that should not be subject to legislation either.
States like North Carolina should have high standards for teachers. They should have at least a year of study and practice before entering the classroom. They should pass tests in the subject they plan to teach. They should have support and mentors.
If they are truly professionals, let them teach.