Former D.C. math teacher Guy Brandenburg attended the NAEP press conference in D.C. where Betsy DeVos explained what lessons the nation can lean from the NAEP results.

DeVos thinks the rest of the nation should learn from D.C., which has the largest racial gaps of any urban district tested by NAEP; Or Florida, where test scores went down; or Mississippi, where scores rose even though it is at the very bottom of all stages tested by NAEP. When you are at the very bottom, it’s easier to “improve” your scores.

When Betsy DeVos is long forgotten, please do not forget that she held up Mississippi as a model for the nation!

Brandenburg wants the world to know that D.C. made its greatest gains before mayoral control.

*I found that it is true that DC’s recent increases in scores on the NAEP for all students, and for black and Hispanic students, are higher than in other jurisdictions.*

*However, **I also found that those increases were happening at a HIGHER rate BEFORE DC’s mayor was given total control of DC’s public schools; BEFORE the appointment of Michelle Rhee; and BEFORE the massive DC expansion of charter schools**.*

He has the data and graphs to prove it.

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Thanks, GF Brandenburg! Facts are such a salutory splash in the face, aren’t they?

And Diane, thanks for the irony: DeVos holds up DC, FL, & MS as ed models for the nation. Kinda like NC & TN modeling “achievement districts” on >gasp< LA. And up here in longtime high-ed-performing Northeastern states, we

wishwe were just below-radar chopped liver… Nope. We’re “hotbeds of greedy teachers’ unions” and constant targets of ed-deformers.If Betsy believes that test scores are essential, she should require all the charter and voucher school that receive public money give them as well. Why should public schools “get all the fun accountability?” BTW, D.C. has the highest percentage of gentrifying neighborhoods in the nation. In 2011 D.C. became a white majority city, and poor families are leaving the city. Like New Orleans Washington, D.C. has shifting demographics that is improving the socio-economic level of the city.

If I published pictures of my school, located two miles from the Mississippi State Capitol, I would likely face disciplinary action. Pictures, however, cannot capture the smell of raw sewage that permeates the air due to faulty plumbing. We are a model to no one but the deluded or diabolic. Devos plays one in order to empower the other. The only good news is that in Mississippi, when we drop, we’re never very far from the bottom, so we don’t have as far to fall.

According to GF Brandenburg’s post, DC has gone from well below the national average for African Americans nationally and in other large cities to be about equal in eighth grade math and a bit above in fourth grade math. It is good to see that African American students are no longer so far behind African American students in the rest of the country.

Yup, after 2012ish, their scores went down in unison. That’s progress indeed worth pointing out, thanks.

Mate,

The progress I was pointing out is the DC has continued to see increasing NAEP scores for African Americans while the overall level of scores for African Americans and African Americans in large cities has ceased increasing. It is indeed unfortunate that other cities were unable to maintain the increases in NAEP scores, but this decrease in inequality between DC students and students in other jurisdictions is surely something to be applauded.

Once upon a time, reformers talked about “choosing the gaps” between African American students and their peers who are white and Asian.

It seems the goal posts have been moved far back. It is good enough to bring African American students only up to the average of other African Americans of their age.

That’s pitiful

And I am pointing out that the NAEP scores of 8th grade AA students in DC and in the big USA has been going down in unison for the last 7 years. What’s there to applaud based on the data? That DC AA student scores went down at the same rate as the national average AA student score and not faster? So after teaching these kids to the test more than in other places, even the goal of meaningless test scores are stagnating, while they were increasing fast before the charter school expansion?

The comparison of 4th grade and 8th grade charts are also telling: DC kids show increased test scores in 4th grade then they burn out and by 8th grade, they run out of testscoring spirit even more than the rest of the country.

tidying up the game 🙂

I would hope the goal posts have not moved an inch and this should be the goal of every educator.

Test scores to be the goal of educators? As I said, the increase of DC 4th grade scores followed by the decrease of 8th grade scores show the long term value of teaching to the test even for test scores.

Tests burn kids out, man. This testing system breaks kids spirit.

My goal as an educator is to nurture and even lift kids’ spirit.

“Test scores to be the goal of educators? As I said, the increase of DC 4th grade scores followed by the decrease of 8th grade scores show the long term value of teaching to the test even for test scores.” — or, it shows that math education in elementary school is not completely horrible, but in the middle school it disintegrates into shreds. And don’t ask me about so-called “science”.

BA, it always amazes me that you know what’s happening in every public school in the nation.

Whence comes your clairvoyance?

Well, BA, why would I ask

youabout science? And I did teach elementary school teachers the math they were supposed to teach in low grades. Inhumane. The younger the kids are, the less age appropriate the material. In my state (and probably others), now they want to control what’s happening in kindergarten; they want to design what math should be taught to 5 year olds. Soon they try to convince mothers if they don’t start with math at birt, their kids will end up on the streets.There is no limit how nuts these people in charge will get.

Mate,

You may not get an answer from BA. He posts nasty, snarky comments and I block them. When he is not nasty, I approve them. But he likes to sneer at teachers and schools, and I find his condescension unbearable. I don’t know why, but I sense a male voice.

Mate,

Surely one of your goals as an educator is that your students leave your classes knowing more mathematics than they did going into your class.

The Mathematics Department uses a standardized test to place students in their initial classes. I note that your department does this as well, going so far as saying students who receive a score below your cut score are not eligible to take ANY mathematics course at the University. Do you think this policy misguided and students who receive low standardized test scores (say 12) are just as capable as students who receive a high standardized test score to take Calc 1?

Testing for minimal background knowledge is different from testing to judge the quality of education, hence you are trying to change the subject. We have discussed this stuff at length before: Speed tests like ACT and SAT are inappropriate even for testing for minimal background knowledge, and hence more and more colleges drop them.

Coming back to subject: No timed, written tests will evaluate properly the quality of teaching, hence they shouldn’t be used. And the younger the kids, the more inappropriate these tests are.

“Well, BA, why would I ask you about science?” — maybe to remind you that in your home country, Hungary, they start teaching biology, geography, physics from grade 6, chemistry from grade 7, and these are not one-year courses. Compared to them, American “science” is a joke. Not even mentioning foreign language (or two), proper history, grammar, literature, etc.

Mate,

The Mathematics Department at my university, along with many others, uses SAT and ACT scores in addition to offering math placement exams in order to place students in their initial courses. They require, for example, a student to have at least a math SAT score of 660 or a sufficiently high math placement exam score to enroll in science and engineering calculus. They also claim that a student with an SAT score below 400 would perhaps not find a suitable mathematics class offered at the university. In your experience, would a student who scored, say 390 on the SAT exam, be well advised to register for science and engineering calculus as an incoming first year student?

It must be a comfort to believe student’s performances on timed written exams do not reflect anything about ones teaching. When my students do not perform up to expectations on the timed written exams that I give, it causes me to examine, and change, how I teach the class.

Máté, here a quote for you: “Over ten years schoolteachers have “taught” this kid by feeding him step-by step solutions. The result is that I’m expected to make a college student be able to solve high-school level problems while being oblivious to elementary school math. Moreover, his is actively refusing to learn how to simplify fractions or solve first degree equations, while expecting me to teach him how to pass tests on arithmetic progressions and trigonometry.”

maybe I am an outlier…..but I get a little nervous about using test results to make points against the people who essentially support the testing industry to provide answers suited to advance their overall agenda, which is not what public schools should be suckered into going along with.

Joe,

I understand your concern about using test scores to refute the Disruption movement.

It’s about their being hoist by their own petard.

They have closed public schools based solely on test scores. They have used test scores to punish or reward educators. They have made bold claims that they know how to raise scores and close gaps.

When they fail, it’s useful to call them out.

Test scores are the coin of their realm.

This “rebuke” means nothing if the scores hit the ceiling for the particular grade, after all, they cannot grow indefinitely. Hence, there will be no improvement after that, and the best result is a consistent achievement of the highest possible score by all students. The graphs clearly show a steady horizontal like with the blacks being on par or outperforming whites. I call it a win.

BA,

Which graphs? The ones in Brandenburg’s post show the national average for African American students, the average for African American students in large cities, and the average for African American students in DC.

There are only two graphs in Brandenburg’s post:

and

and both of them show that before mayoral control scores were much lower and the gap was wider. After the mayoral control scores have stabilized at the high level and the gap is pretty much non-existent, which, if you trust these numbers, is how it should look like.

He writes, “At the 8th grade level, same time span, the slope was 1.53 points per year before mayoral control, but 0.77 points per year afterwards.” — who cares about the slope if the score was dismal to begin with. The point is not about growth from the bottom of the swamp, it is about continuous, year to year, high result with no gap, which the right portion of the graph clearly indicates.

Pray tell, what is the magic of mayoral control?

NYC has had it since 2003 and NAEP scores stalled.

Please share the secret.

BA,

Those graphs have no information about how white students performed on the NAEP. I fear you have misread the legends on the graph.

Indeed, I have, I stand corrected. Still, if we are to judge the performance of DC students and teachers, then on the right side it is much closer or better than national performance compared to the left side. Again, to me this looks like a win for DC.

BA, why not read the captions of graphs before making sweeping statements about them?

The Black White math gap hasn’t changed in the last few years: it’s 25 points for 4th graders. Is this 24 points (10%) a ceiling in your opinion?

In 8th grade, the gap between Blacks and Whites is 32.

Charter schools are doing worse than public schools for both age groups.

https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/mathematics/nation/groups/?grade=4

Podcast: National assessment shows more K-12 students struggling to read

https://www.apmreports.org/story/2019/11/01/naep-hanford