Lowering Testing Standards is not an Effort to Help Poor Kids. It's a Way to Screw Them.

Categories: Schutze

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Story in The New York Times this morning about efforts in the Texas Legislature to cut back testing and course requirements for graduation from high school. If you sort through, most the alligator-tears for poor kids supposedly being pushed to learn too much stuff come from tea party types like state Senator Dan Patrick in Houston, while advocates for poor and minority children are fighting to keep high standards.

Kati Haycock, president of a nonprofit advocating for minority and poor children, tells the Times: "What we all know is when you leave it up to kids and schools, the poor kids and kids of color will be disproportionately not in the curriculum that could make the most difference for them."

See also:
Legislature's Step Backward on School Testing Makes Us Like France, Only Racist

Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, the Killeen Republican who authored the Dumb and Dumber bill that just passed the House, frames it as freedom of choice for poor children: "I don't want them to have to choose up or choose down, but choose what's right for them," he tells New York.

dan patrick.jpg
Senator Dan Patrick: Whose side is he on?
Yeah, right. When did middle class white people start believing in freedom of choice for children? I thought the rule was always, "Because I said so." Oh, wait. This is freedom of choice for poor black and brown children, isn't it? We need to let those kids choose to be less competitive with our own, don't we?

And then we have the other argument for Dumb and Dumber: Testing kids and making them know all this stuff reduces classroom creativity for teachers. But creativity for what? Hey, listen, I want to give you a snapshot of what. Right here.

This morning I'm looking at numbers culled from the Texas Education Agency web pages for the black majority high schools in Dallas -- Lincoln, Madison, Pinkston, South Oak Cliff, Carter and Roosevelt. In the last eight years, 8,188 kids have graduated from those six schools. Of those young people, a total of 99 tested at levels indicating they were capable of succeeding in college.

That's 1.2 percent of graduates. Put that up against statewide numbers: in 2011, 52 percent of all graduating public school students in Texas tested at a college-ready level or above. Of all black seniors in Texas, 36 percent tested as college-ready in 2011.
There's your creativity: 98.8 percent of graduates not capable of making it at a four-year college.

So does that mean black families in Dallas are comfortable with these six high schools that can barely find a single kid worth sending to college? Apparently not, because black families are ditching out of all six of those schools about as fast as they can manage.
Since 2002, Carter has seen a 45 percent decline in enrollment. At Lincoln the decline is 41 percent and Roosevelt 40 percent.

No, black families are not satisfied with results in those schools. They are voting with their feet and checkbooks, shipping kids off to private or suburban schools where they will be pushed to be Smart and Smarter, not that other thing the tea party has in mind for them.
In fact the Dumb and Dumber movement is a sub-rosa abandonment of public education, pushed by tricornered hat types like Patrick who don't believe in a civil society, by teachers who have given up, and, as we are seeing here in Dallas, a cadre of school administrators who are making a pretty nice little living off abject failure.

No, minority families won't stick around forever and watch their kids shrivel on the vine. Gradually, as soon as they are able, they will abandon urban public schools entirely. Then Patrick can achieve his own dream -- plywood in the school house door.


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75 comments
bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

Blame it on the Evangelical Republicans.  Public Education is their greatest enemy and they know it, so they undermine it at every opportunity.

Indeed, the party's official line on the matter is "not everyone needs a college education".

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

"In fact the Dumb and Dumber movement is a sub-rosa abandonment of public education, pushed by tricornered hat types like Patrick who don't believe in a civil society, by teachers who have given up, and, as we are seeing here in Dallas, a cadre of school administrators who are making a pretty nice little living off abject failure."

This single sentence shows that this case is not about The Children, but about Jim's imagined enemies and the dark thoughts he projects onto them.

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Since when is education something that other people have to give your children? Mr. Schutze keeps treating this process as if it's the only system whereby children learn. Some of us learned more from our families than any school ever taught us. When parents abdicate their responsibilities as parents, they should expect poor results. When governments facilitate the abdication of these responsibilities with policies that fracture families and reward people for making horrible choices, its citizens should expect equally poor results. Letting the village raise your child is like letting the neighbors feed your dog. It may work great, or your dog may go hungry. And it probably won't learn much, either, except how to mooch off the neighbors.

dtownie
dtownie

@JimSX Lowering standards is definitely not the answer but our obsessive testing environment is  creating perverse incentives to cheat for people who are trying to keep their jobs in a down economy and under duress from district administrators. See this cautionary tale of the state of DC Public Schools today post-Michelle Rhee from NPR & PBS Education reporter John Merrow - http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=6232. Let's hope this isn't a window into our future in Dallas.

fortherealscoop
fortherealscoop

disdblog.com for the facts.

You won't get the real story here.

rke
rke


So you got what you wanted, all that advocacy.   Little late to whine now white boy, at least we got ours.

Americano
Americano

So on this issue society should hold blacks up to the same standard as everyone else?  Furthermore, blacks agree with this and are voting with their feet?  That, my friend, is a Republican, nay, Conservative position.  Watch yourself, you could be accused of racism for that sort of blasphemy.

if6were9
if6were9

Anna needs a column like this, it could be entitled 'Get Out of My Vajayjay' with a shotgun pointing out of her vagina; because this standardized testing fiasco might have undercurrents of vaginas floating beneath its many layers. 

if6were9
if6were9

Democrat.........libtard.........detroit..........Jim, your worst blog post, yet! There! Did I cover all the bases? Hope so.

Daniel
Daniel

A way to screw them? Could you not be a little more ... classy ... than putting something SO UGLY ONLINE?!

manpanties
manpanties

these tests are awful for teachers and students.  there are straight A students at our school who didn't do well on the practice starrh are being told they have to do tutoring and skip recess and specials so they can get their score up.  thats a stupid thing that needs to change.  totally not worth the stupid blue ribbon hanging on the building like some great albatross.

LordNotAgain
LordNotAgain

Lost your reporter's skills? If you want to drive around the neighborhoods feeding into Lincoln, Madison, and South Dallas, apartments and homes have been bulldozed. The population is gone, and so are the students.

And once again, you forget that magnet and Early College buses pick up children in these neighborhoods and take them to extremely high achieving schools every day.

We afford these motivated learners that choice, the same as we provide choices for the students who wish to be on Mrs.Willard's state championship basketball teams.

Plenty of students graduate from these South Dallas schools and go on to colleges and universities. Many white, middle class kids don't do well on the SAT test. They also go on to colleges and universities. The college ready numbers are simply proxies.

Madison's college ready scores from the TAKS are in line with the state averages. You "forgot" that and want to return to the SAT. Scoring 999 would knock kids out of the college ready line. You don't understand statistics, you have no credibility on this issue, but you think repetition on your part is validity.

If we removed the top performers in Plano, Coppell, and Irving and put them in concentrated form at magnets and Early Colleges, their neighborhood SAT scores would plummet.

You have no understanding of these scores or the AEIS data. You are trying to make a case that kids in extreme poverty with their top academic achievers gone to magnets should score as well as middle class kids across the state.

That is ridiculous. Some part of you knows that, but you just shriek louder.

Screaming louder doesn't change the bias of the SAT or bring kids back from the magnets to their neighborhood schools.

Are you suggesting we close the magnets? Our top scoring kids are concentrated at the magnet schools.

Are you arguing they should not have that choice?

observist
observist topcommenter

If teachers are the problem in under-performing schools, it could be easily proven.  Take all the teachers from the best-performing comprehensive HS and have them trade places with the teachers at the worst-performing comprehensive HS.  If  performance is a strictly a result of teaching, after four years the  (formerly) best-performing school would be the worst performing and the formerly worst-performing would be the best.  i.e. the performance would follow the teachers, not stay with the school.  

Personally, I think the results would not follow the teachers, but rather stick with the school and the demographics of its students.


bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

"Testing kids and making them know all this stuff..." 

Testing kids does not make them know this stuff, Jim. TEACHING kids makes them know this stuff. 

By teaching to the test -- which you and I and everyone else knows exactly what's happening -- we've practically guaranteed that most kids will never know this stuff. 

titusgroan
titusgroan

On the other hand, this is all predicated on the assumption that of course everyone wants to go to college and should go to college.  Why?  Sure they've shipped manufacturing jobs overseas but there's not a call center in India that can do jack about your plumbing or HVAC.  Insisting all kids follow a college-prep curriculum is as paternalistic and unrealistic as insisting they can't.  Offer real choices, and (gasp!) let the kids decide.

Tom434
Tom434

The drumbeat has been steady for the last few years that standardized tests are bad bad bad.  Teachers teach to the test and ignore everything else, it appears the DISD teachers forgot to teach to the test.  Now the leg wants to cut back on standardized tests and that's  bad.  Can't win on this issue.

observist
observist topcommenter

@manpanties  There may be some smart kids that have a problem with test taking, but generally test performance is highly correlated with academic achievement.  The notion of straight-A students performing poorly on tests is exactly the motivation for having standardized tests - to make sure straight A's actually mean a kid is learning something.

if6were9
if6were9

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz And your point is what, exactly? I like to cross-dress.......does that now put both, Mr.Patrick and myself, in the same league? I pray your answer is that of no. ps love the avatar of the spaing kitty :)

observist
observist topcommenter

@LordNotAgain"If we removed the top performers in Plano, Coppell, and Irving and put them in concentrated form at magnets and Early Colleges, their neighborhood SAT scores would plummet."   

The bad school are not bad solely because the best students have been skimmed off by the magnets.  If you measured the average test scores of the bottom 25% (or bottom 200 students if you want to get pedantic about it)  of the class in Madison vs. the bottom 25% or 200 at Plano, Coppell or Irving, I think you'd find a huge discrepancy in favor of the suburban schools.  

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@LordNotAgain 

Sure. Send those TAKS scores to Ann Arbor and Cambridge. Good luck with that.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@observist Exactly! I've had a teacher in a South Dallas school tell she's had young students (first grade) who literally do not know their own names, didn't know they had names. Can these kids be taught? Certainly. Is testing and penalizing the teachers who have to deal with these demographics the way to teach them? 

LordNotAgain
LordNotAgain

@observist 

We have proof of that in DISD. Teachers move to magnet schools and all of sudden become expert teachers based on SAT, AP, and ACT scores.

Jim has his head stuck in a bucket and is screaming louder and louder to himself.

klreeves
klreeves

@bmarvel STAAR tests are intended to be pegged at a level that makes it harder to teach to the test.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@titusgroan Teaching literature, history, science, math is NOT "college prep," Groan. It's life prep, stuff every plumber and computer geek and shoe salesman and butcher and baker needs to be a oitizen in a democracy.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

@observist @manpanties If test taking is so correlated with academic achievement, then why do the untested masses of private school kids do so well?

You're a shill for Pearson.  Rich kids get recess.  Poor kids get Pearson.  Poor kids get their diplomas withheld because they "fail" Pearson tests.  

These tests aren't basic skills tests.  These tests are intense and the only way to get low-income, below-level kids to pass them is to cram them instead of teaching them.

Every comment you make on this topic ignores these realities.  

Visit http://www.tamsatx.org and http://www.disdblog.com/2013/04/11/even-texas-politicians-have-had-enough-of-sandy-kress-by-jason-stanford/#comments.

This movement is picking up steam to PROTECT poor kids from working in Pearson sweatshops and then being denied a diploma.

manpanties
manpanties

@observist @manpanties these students are already taking tests that result in their A's.  tests that are sent home and that parents can actually see and help explain and help with.  with the staar, parents aren't allowed to know what is being tested or how they can help.  its a secretive dog and pony show.  a kids ability to sit still for hours is what is actually being tested as far as I can tell.  

 if we don't trust the lessons that gets these student their A's, then change the lessons.  don't add a layer of testing that does nothing to contribute to the actual curriculum.  or else stop sending home report cards that trick students and parent into thinking that 6 weeks grades are somehow relevanct.

DarnedItAgain
DarnedItAgain

@observist @manpanties 

The practice STAAR is not a good proxy for learning or mastery. Sorry to bust your bubble, but you apparently have little knowledge of the history of these tests. Outcomes have not correlated to other gold-standard tests such as the ITBS.

In high school, having Pearson make out a content test instead of the teacher means our students in the 99th percentile and those in the 19th percentile take the same exam.

There is no way to make a test that is sufficiently challenging to both groups of students.

Why does the public have such misguided faith in the Pearson generated exams?  Students could take one of the traditional tests used for the past 50 years in education and get a decent assessment of growth.

Instead, this nation is now serving as the cash cow for a corrupt vendor, Pearson, and their lobbyist, Kress.

LordNotAgain
LordNotAgain

@observist @LordNotAgain 

We would also fail to find the disparity in income, but in your eyes, every child is equally prepared to learn, regardless of home or income. Strange, no one but you believes that.

We can make SAT scores plummet by removing the top performers at any school.

What you are seeing at these schools is the removal of the top academic achievers and the loss of populations.

Conrad has the same under enrollment because of knocking down apartments, but you haven't accused them of running off children.


LordNotAgain
LordNotAgain

@JimSX @LordNotAgain 

Our high achieving minority children go to the top schools in the nation once they leave magnets and some comprehensive high schools.

You are making an argument to destroy our magnet programs.


LordNotAgain
LordNotAgain

@bmarvel @observist 

Yes, let's find a way to penalize all teachers who don't have positions at magnets. Let's label all those teachers bad teachers.

That way, lots of great teachers will want to work with severely underserved students. 

Let's make sure the media constantly tells teachers who devote their lives to working with these students that they are not getting the same results as those high income children in Plano, so they have bad, bad teachers.

LordNotAgain
LordNotAgain

@bmarvel @titusgroan 

So you want to take an Algebra II test made by a faulty test producer in order to get your high school degree? How about a physics test?

You haven't sampled these tests. Everyman can be well educated without these tests.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

@Guesty @DISDTeacher @observist @manpanties Guesty--How many kids do you have in private school?  Because trust me, you're wrong about the tests they take and about teachers in private schools teaching to the test.  In fact, you couldn't be more wrong.

ITBS is not a pass/fail test, so that point is wrong, too.  "Something similar off the shelf"?  What does that even mean?  Pearson is off the shelf. 

We only give STAAR tests once a year, so that point is wrong, too.

Most of our high school kids would do fine on basic skills tests.  You're wrong about that, too.

Guesty
Guesty

@DISDTeacher @observist @manpanties Private school kids take standardized tests, they just take different tests.  For example, just to get in, students have to take tests.  All the kids take college entrance exams.  All the kids take pre-college entrance exams (PSAT).  And they spend countless hours in school being "taught to the test" and most spend additional hours outside of school taking test preparation courses.  Standardized tests aren't the boogy man.  

Should Texas get rid of its tests in favor of something simpler and more skills oriented?  Probably. I don't see any reason not to just buy ITBS or something similar off the shelf.   Should they just give it once a year and get it over with?  I say yes.  Would DISD kids do much better on such a test?  Hard to say, but pass rates would still be very, very low.  Most of our high school kids graduate without the basic math, reading, science, or reasoning skills we should expect of high school graduates, and this will show up on any test you give them.  

ItsSoSad
ItsSoSad

@DISDTeacher @observist Don't worry about Jim. He writes this kind of shit in order to get our reactions, then claims that we are obstructionists to education. This is his journalistic game.

And he doesn't remember that Ross Perot Sr. is the "conservative businessman" that started all this customized testing crap. Not a liberal; a rich, white, fat cat that ran a company that somehow ended up SCORING THE TESTS HE RECOMMENDED!

It is encouraging that black families are fleeing the failing black schools, just like everybody else who cares. The ones that are left, DON'T CARE! Let's have Jim go and try to teach THAT group.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

@observist Use ITBS to evaluate me all day long.  No teacher I know is opposed to that metric. 

And you don't know about Pearson and Pearson's STAAR tests?  Please.  Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that?

You know full well these tests are not minimum skills tests; quit trying to spread that lie.

Listen--I'll help you out since you care so much about poor kids being tested that you haven't even bothered to familiarize yourself with Pearson tests:  Go to the Texas Education Agency's website and click around until you find released STAAR questions for the high school tests.  

They aren't "minimum skills."


observist
observist topcommenter

@DISDTeacher@observist@manpanties 

Whose posts are you reading?  I said test performance not test taking is correlated with achievement.

Neither the article nor the comment I replied to mention anything about Pearson, just "testing".  I know nothing about Pearson, so I'm certainly not shilling for them.  I think there should be some form national standardized achievement test.   A high school diploma should mean something more than having shown up 66% of the time for 12 years.  If a kid can't pass a test of minimum skills expected of HS graduates, they shouldn't graduate.  A diploma is given for educational achievement, not as an 18th birthday present.  

That said, I would expect the test to be as valid, accurate and reliable as possible.  I have no knowledge or opinion about this Pearson test.  If it's not valid, accurate and reliable, it sounds like a bad test, and the solution is a better test, not no test.

I also said that I'm ambivalent about using tests to evaluate teacher performance.  Good teachers can a have a huge positive impact on students compared to bad teachers.  And an impoverished, disordered home life can leave kids unreachable even by good teachers.

Like at least one other apparent teacher here, you're too worked up, angry and impatient to notice that not everyone is an entrenched extremist on this issue.  I'm a parent of two school age kids, I have a graduate degree, I grew up in a college town, my politics are slightly left of center, and I pay more attention to the news than most people - i.e. I should probably be part of the teachers' "base" - but my perception is that that the teachers are resisting any kind of objective performance measurement or accountability.  I'm not hearing anything from teachers about better testing, I'm just hearing a lot of shouting and resentment of any testing.

In short, y'all have got a PR problem, and your half-cocked histrionics aren't helping.



observist
observist topcommenter

@DarnedItAgain @observist @manpanties  I don't see anything in the article or the comment that says this is all about STAAR tests as opposed to standardized testing in general.  I'm not well-versed in the merits of every specific test out there, but generally the IBTS, SAT, AP, etc. do a good job of measuring academic achievement*.  I'm certainly not in favor of bad tests, but I am in favor of testing.  I'm ambivalent about evaluating teachers on the basis of test scores.  There are good teachers who would be unfairly punished, but also bad teachers who would be finally exposed.

*I know the SAT is an "aptitude" test not an "achievement" test, but no one is going to do great on the SAT without a roughly commensurate level of achievement.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@LordNotAgain @observist You raise an interesting question.  Irving ISD has Title I schools, how do the scores compare with DISD?  High ESL populations and socio-economic disadvantaged populations in each, so maybe it's as close to an apples to apples comparison as we can get.

observist
observist topcommenter

@LordNotAgain @observist  Slow down, you're all over the place.  I'm not arguing with every point you've made here, just your implication that the low test scores at these schools are due solely to the best students being skimmed off by the magnets.  It's a factor, but there's also the fundamental lack of social capital in these neighborhoods.  I think we're in agreement on this.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

@JimSX @LordNotAgain It isn't their minority status that is holding them back; it is their economic status that is the problem.  Their test scores generally match up with every child in their SES bracket across the nation.  That's sort of a rather large "coincidence" don't you think?

Poor kids need more recess, more field trips, more projects, more silent-reading time, more food they will actually eat, more counseling to become strong learners.  The last thing they need is more testing.

If rich kids are doing well and they are rarely tested, why aren't we taking that tack with poor kids?  Maybe the testing is causing them to fall behind because the test prep for ridiculously tricky tests supplants real teaching and the deep knowledge that is needed for the next school year?

The "rigor" is over the top and is going to result in kids not getting diplomas--except the rich kids in private schools.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

@LordNotAgain @JimSX Contrary to what Hinojosa and his minions would have had you believe, dumping the magnet kids back into their home schools would barely nudge the needle. I don't recall the exact numbers, but if you look at SAT scores from the magnets (typically well over 1200) and the SAT scores from DISD overall (barely over 900) you'll see even with the magnets included in that average it's still abysmal. And only the good students take the SAT. Everybody takes STARR. Yeah, you'd maybe have 2 or 3% more kids passing, but the AU schools would still be AU.


The bottom line is the only way to fix the comprehensives is to fix the comprehensives.

LordNotAgain
LordNotAgain

@JimSX @LordNotAgain 

So this is not a South Dallas issue? My gracious!!! 

We are making progress. So you mean in a city where Early College and magnets do a great job of recruiting high performing minority students, we may be harming the comprehensive high schools?

That may be true.

However, the alternative is the removal of programs for highly motivated kids who don't like rah!rah! sports that is the mainstay of most American high schools.

Are you making a case for the removal of the magnets?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@LordNotAgain @JimSX 

Bullshit. Give me a list of comprehensive high schools doing a great job with minority students, 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Again, I hope you can see from my comments that I am not disagreeing with you.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@LordNotAgainIf If you've read any of my comments, Against, you will see I am no fan of the test. I am a big fan of teaching. Too many folks -- and far too many politicians and education administrators -- confuse the two.

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