Thursday, 6 December 2007

Call it MIS-education

For anyone interested, the NAEP just release the 2007 results for 12th graders, and the results indicate that the "child" they did not want to leave behind is farther behind than in 1992.
I have made some comments, and even tried to attribute some share (all) of the blame in that truest of American traditions (if we can't fix it, find someone to blame)...
If you want to read it for yourself, the document is at...

Section headings for the 12th grade scores include titles like:

>>>Overall Performance in Reading Declines in Comparison to 1992

>>>Twelfth-graders in 2005 scored lower than in 1992, but their score was not significantly different compared to 2002.

Except for the highest-performing students (90th percentile), declines were seen at all levels of performance since 1992.
In particular, the gap between the students at the 90th percentile of the nation and the 10th percentile, grew from 84 points to 98 points. The 90th percentile achievement level was still the same as 1992, but the 10th percentile score dropped 14 points. Notice in the chart that students in the bottom 50% of the population continue to decline, and the lower the level, the greater the decline.

Trend in twelfth-grade NAEP reading percentile scores

In math, the new test made it impossible to compare with previous years, but looking at overall success as judged by the NAEP competence levels, the nation is more at risk in math than ever. While 73% of seniors met "basic' level standards in reading, and 35 percent were "proficient", in Math only 60 percent were at "basic" level, and only 23% were " proficient".

In both tests, while there were differences in scores from different regions, different income levels, different parental educational levels, and reading backgrounds, no factor so greatly predicted a lack of achievement in reading or learning math as race. Blacks and Hispanics still fall far below white and Asian students on both tests.

Only 6% of blacks and 8% of Hispanics reached the proficient level in math (25% -33%of national average achievement level) and 16% of blacks and 20% of Hispanics reaching that level in Reading. And while both whites and blacks had lower reading scores than in 1992, the "gap" has grown from 24 to 26 points.

The net impact of fifteen years of educational reform has been a stagnation or very mild decline of the best students and a faster decline of the lower ones. It is not just teachers whining that "Kids ain't what they used to be." The weakest 50% of the population of seniors today really do read more poorly than 15 years ago. Measurably worse, statistically significantly worse, and the cure seems to be killing them.

BTW.. scores in fourth grade continue to improve, and 8th grade is steady. So what has happened in high schools in the last fifteen years that is markedly different than the trends in elementary and middle schools. Teacher, how do you spell BLOCK?

NO event has so crippled student success in recent years in the areas of Math and foreign language as much as the block schedule. Teachers like it because it is less classes to prepare for. Student's like it because they get half as much homework (check the statistics, that is a conservative statement), and administrators like it because, as one clever principal told me in justifying his love of the block schedule, "this year our tardy rate dropped by 40%". When I tried to explain that the number of opportunities to be tardy had dropped by 50%, his eyes just glazed over.....

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