States And Talent, Less NAEP Means More NAEP? Transparency Means Better Finance? Oakland Charters, Names At Yale, Tenure And Free Speech, Prince And Students!

Christine Campbell on principals and how states think about talent in education.  Phillip Burgoyne-Allen argues for a bit less NAEP, which could mean more NAEP:

If we didn’t have the data above from 2005, 2009, and 2013 – meaning these NAEP tests were only administered every four years – would we really be missing out on much? As the graph below shows, we’d still have the same trend lines and the same idea of how math and reading performance looked over the past decade. The fact is, taking these tests every two years just isn’t very productive.

In Oakland the League of Women voters honors a charter school supporting parent advocacy organization with its Making Democracy Work award.  Either they didn’t get the memo or it’s a bold kids-first call. I think the latter.

Accountability for doing your job may make you more likely to go to work. Marguerite Roza says you can’t turn back the clock on transparency’s impact on school finance.

Noah Feldman defends a quite undesirable Florida professor fired for what looks like some off-the-wall views about the Sandy Hook shootings. Echoes of Ward Churchill. A lot going on here. The university did fire the professor but not, officially anyway, for his views but rather for paperwork issues. That seems, as Feldman points out, a troubling backdoor way to do this.

It’s certainly not cut and dry, but what about the front door? It seems central to free inquiry that you should be able to say what you want in your areas of expertise and research no matter how shocking or offensive it might be to many or to some or just a few (especially a powerful few). But it’s unclear why academic freedom should in practice be some sort of get out of jail free card to just say whatever the hell you want about anything you want? You teach rhetoric and composition, for instance, is running around saying that Israel and the U.S. were behind the 9-11 attacks integral to your academic work? Maybe so, yes, but it’s certainly not cut and dry.

I’m a strong supporter of free speech rights and protecting professors from political pressure is vital – especially in today’s climate (in higher ed tenure has other benefits, too). But, it’s worth at least asking if there are any reasonable lines here? Feldman says that when you’re teaching incorrect facts that’s one line. But the obvious question of whose facts takes you down a troublesome path pretty fast. And this is an especially complicated question when, as in this case, you’re dealing with a discipline that covers a lot of ground and issues – he was a professor of communications. A field like rhetoric or law presents the same challenge. Whether you can cloak yourself in an official state role to say anything you want about anything or whether your absolute protections should be related to your field of academic work seems like a something at least worth discussing?

In other words, I tend to agree with Feldman but the case would be stronger if higher education leaders made it with more nuance than just saying free speech and academic freedom. There is a “why” question that’s not unreasonable to ask and ought to be answered around an expansive approach here.

Elsewhere, try to figure this one out: Despite protests Yale is keeping a building named for notorious slavery advocate because that helps everyone remember or something but is also dropping a term with an etymology that long predates slavery. Critics say it’s donor pressure.

When Prince rocked LA – but just for special need students.

Elon Musk is going to Mars.

4 thoughts on “States And Talent, Less NAEP Means More NAEP? Transparency Means Better Finance? Oakland Charters, Names At Yale, Tenure And Free Speech, Prince And Students!

  1. sandy kress

    If Philip Burgoyne-Allen would like to see the many incredibly useful
    ways to explore NAEP data in incredible valuable ways, let’s set up a 1/2 hour call. I’ve been living with these data for almost 25 years, and I must say that a serious reduction in the frequency in the NAEP is one of the worst ideas I’ve read in a long time. While a 2 year change in data is, yes, typically not significant, it would be terrible to miss shifts within a 10 year period. The recent 4 year drop, for example, in 8th grade math was, quite obviously, worth knowing and on a timely basis.

    Further, being able to see no increase whatsoever in the RTT states since that program began was very important, though perhaps not yet dispositive as to any value in that program.

    One idea, Philip, is to turn from looking at aggregated data and instead disaggregate the data in the results by subgroup. Another is to develop and compare trajectories over time for such subgroups by states. There’s gold in them thar hills, Philip, and you’re missing it.

    As to any effect of this on “curriculum narrowing,” there is, according to federal data, no curriculum narrowing. So, we need to stop saying there is and attributing causes to things that actually don’t happen.

    Finally, I would say that the foolish decision to suspend funding the long term trend data makes this idea even more foolhardy and dangerous.

    In any event, happy to talk it out.

  2. Richard Innes

    I strongly agree with Sandy Kress on this one.

    Having to wait for years to get any sort of usable trend data from NAEP is indeed one of the worst ideas floating around. It takes nearly a decade to get useful trend information when NAEP runs on a 4-year cycle.

    Thanks to the NAEP’s current 2-year cycle and the fact that Kentucky already has four years of Common Core under its belt, we can start doing some serious analysis of this reform now, not another four years from now. NAEP already provides some evidence that Kentucky’s CCSS-aligned KPREP assessment is starting to inflate. If we were on a 4-year cycle, we wouldn’t know anything.

  3. Phillip Burgoyne-Allen

    The main argument of my piece is about how reducing the focus on math and reading tests would free up resources specifically for LTT assessments, and other subjects like civics. So I agree that suspending LTT funding is foolish. Seeing the next LTT assessment be delayed 4 years (so now 12 years from the previous one) due to budget constraints is deeply concerning.

    I’d be interested to see what federal data you are referring to on curriculum narrowing. But assessing reading and math every 2 years, while assessing civics every 12 years (for 12th graders), is certainly a narrowing of what we focus on and thus care about. Giving our high school seniors a national civics test once every 3 presidential terms, in my mind, signals an abandonment of our duty to raise informed citizens.

    And if NAEP tested math and reading only every 4 years, you would still see the 4 year drop in 8th grade math, as well as other shifts that occur over a decade-long period, even among subgroups.

    For example, black 4th grade students had a score of 224 on the math assessment in 2015, 2013, and 2011. Before that, they scored 222 in both 2009 and 2007. That’s only up 2 points from their 2005 score of 220. These biennial changes are so slight that I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing LTT and assessments in other subjects, rather than simply testing in math and reading less frequently.

  4. Sandy Kress

    The numbers over the past 4 years are flat because achievement is flat! That is something that needs to be known. Check the data from 1999 to 2008 on the LTT. Or the main NAEP from the late 90s to 2007. Different picture. The 90s, in contrast, were flat. I am not trying to make causal statements, but making a decision to test less often because the last few years have been flat doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Also, state trajectories are frequently different. We’ve seen this with Texas, North Carolina, and Massachusetts in the past. We saw it in Florida. We saw it more recently in Tennessee. We’ve seen states that were supposedly hot, and achievement was stagnant. These patterns are important.

    There are course taking and instructional time data the NCES collects. Either look for it, or let’s talk.

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