Study Bites Man?

Today must have been an especially busy news day because so far there is surprisingly little interest in a new CEP analysis showing some good news for the No Child Left Behind policy…  Is it too cynical to think it would be bigger news if it went the other way?  And hard to make the case that CEP is in the tank for the last administration, in fact the opposite case has been made…  Ed Week does pick it up here.

16 Replies to “Study Bites Man?”

  1. Big deal- I’ve got friends in education who say they are encouraged to get the kids to cheat on these tests in order for the school to meet their benchmarks. They will actually show the kids the test first and coach them in the correct answers and then hand them the real test. Fed Gov should have no place in education.

  2. “…Fed Gov should have no place in education.”

    Take the Fed’s Dime, follow the Fed’s Rules.
    You don’t want the Rules, give back the Dime.

    Problem Solved!

  3. Problem is.. the Fed Gov won’t take back the dime even if you wanted to divest your state or locality of federal funds. Look at the states and businesses that wanted to give back some of the bail out money to keep the Feds out of their business- the gov. wouldn’t let them.

    I pay my taxes, which goes to the substandard education of the masses, but have to scrape together my pennies this time each year to buy my kid’s schoolbooks and pay their homeschool fees. Some say you should get a tax break for homeschooling, but I don’t want the gov to have anything to hold over me.

  4. So what poisonivy is saying is that there is a way to get rid of underperforming teachers, since I would assume that cheating on these tests by showing them to kids is at least a misdemeanor if not a felony. Certainly it ought to be a firing offense at minimum.

    So who do you call to turn in some of these cheating rascals?

  5. Well, explain to me why this is necessarily a problem. When I was in nursing school, guess what, we took a full curriculum, but we were completely focused on the state licensing board tests. We saw sample questions, we did practice exams. You know what? We learned the useful material in the process.

    Then, when I was in law school, guess what? The entire 4 years (I went part-time) was directed toward the bar exam. We took practice tests, we went through hundreds of review questions, the rounded and comprehensive curriculum covered the waterfront, but make no mistake, they “taught to the test”. And you know what? Those practice questions and practice exams taught us the core important material. We simply wouldn’t have paid the same attention to actually learning without it.

    Now, think about a NCLB test. What is important? Reading and writing and ‘rithmetic, seems to me. No matter how you show sample questions to kids, they have to read the questions in order to pass- and most kids wat to pass. You can show them sample math problems, they still have to do something- no kid is going to memorize an answer key- “a,d,c,b,b,a,b,d,c,c,”, he is going to have to remember the nature of a question and have to work something out in some way. And then you’ve got him.

    All the whining about the substance of the NCLB principles, it seems to me, is the product of an unholy alliance between the teacher unions, who don’t want accountability, and the super-right, who don’t want government schools to exist (they should, but not non-competitively, as they do now).

    If the goal is better performance, Bush got it right- first set up standards, then force people to meet them.

  6. Yes, yes, yes. Talk to teachers a little longer who claim they have destroyed their teaching by ‘teaching to the test” and you hear of their quite original and subjective idea of what is “important” to tell the students (not uncommonly a political agenda, but that’s not the only approach).

    Ane I agree – if a teacher says they helped the children cheat they have so little integrity that I’d just as soon they weren’t at the front of my children’s classrooms even if they knew shit – but this is also likely to imply they don’t.

  7. I assume that Poisonivy’s unethical friends also coached their students to cheat on the tests before No Child Left Behind because testing has been high stakes for many years. Since the potential for cheating on norm referenced tests has been around for many decades and the cited improvement arrived with NCLB, it seems NCLB really does help students – despite the quality of teachers they sometimes must endure. Some teachers really do prefer to cheat then teach. The underqualified cheating teachers that Poisonivy associates with may actually end up accidentally teaching students more by coaching to the test.
    I remember dissecting a ‘study’ written by an ‘educator’ that claimed that a) tests are bad because they curtail the vivid instruction available to students and confine them to learning only that which is on the test and b) students do poorly on the tests because the tests do not cover material actually taught in the class room. I put ‘study’ and ‘educator’ in quotes because the document violated the most basic principles of objective research and the author was ideologically driven to make absurd assertions.

  8. Kurmudge is right. I taught accounting. All the textbooks used old CPA exams for their problem material for students to solve. The books used for CPA exam preparation were totally made up of questions from previous years’ exams. That’s how you learn!!

  9. ” . . . they are encouraged to get the kids to cheat on these tests in order for the school to meet their benchmarks . . . . Fed Gov should have no place in education.”
    – – – – –

    No, your friends have no place in education. NCLB enrages the education establishment because it removes from teachers the complete discretion as to what they teach our children. When society assigns to teachers the task of teaching certain skills and fact sets and processes, it removes the freedom and ability of those teachers to instead decide that every child must be taught how unjust our society is, how unimportant effort and achievement are, and how self-pride is a vice.

    No, to be forced instead to teach children how to add fractions, or how to structure a thought into a sentence, makes teachers into technicians, and they’d rather be “thought leaders.”

  10. I agree that cheating teachers and administrators need to be fired, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    I still ascertain that the Federal Government’s involvement in education is unconstitutional and their compulsion to micromanage us all is a trespass on our liberty. If you would compare the typical school requirements and benchmarks of 100 years ago, you can see how much, or how little, we require out of a solid public school education now.

    I agree that learning toward a test has some educational value; I don’t disagree. I was a Chem Eng major and that was how I got through it, too. We called all the old tests and homework “files” and was sort of a duty to preserve them to hand them down to the next class. I had some old tests from 30 years before!

    I wish that focusing on the standards that are being tested would keep those “thought leaders” as bobby b described from indoctrinating the kiddos with liberal tripe. But having had a kid in public school, I know that they still manage to work it in. What really made me get over public school was when they asked my 8 yo what kind of plastic surgery she would choose to have done in an essay question. The teacher and the principal both blew me off and I said to myself, life is too short to deal with this crap!

    That launched us into our homeschooling odyssey where we have met more friends than I ever thought possible, half of which are former schoolteachers! lol. Since that time we’ve been reading the classics, discovering history together, learning Latin, and going on the coolest trips with all of our friends. I’ve seen my daughter go from not having many friends in public school (because they’re not aloud to speak to one another – too busy studying for NCLB) to having a bunch of friends that she can hang out with. When I get stuck with a subject I’m not familiar with, I have a strong network of experts- my schoolteacher friends I mentioned- to help us out.

    You can see from the census records that literacy rates have fallen precipitously the more that government tries to control education.

    Summary: Being able to score well on a test just proves that you can jump through hoops, not that you have a well-trained mind.

  11. I’m not in education. But I think there’s a lot of whining.

    I went to a top 10 public high school in California. Most of my classmates were into sports, surfing, flirtation, beauty, or kid hi-jinks, and then as at most a second measure…school.

    And this was a top 10 public high school.

    I later taught SATs, include to poor rural whites and urban blacks. I had a black student, great kid…blew away any of us at my public school…dad was a janitor, kid a track runner who got up early Saturdays to help his Dad work…the kid had a 94 average at his school. SAT prep? He was in the low 800’s out of 1600 in those days.

    He had no idea how far he was from good scores, because his school was so slack he aced all their weak material.

    So what we’re talking about is remedial stuff. Remedial in the sense that huge swathes of America have not had the education bug: so they don’t have it to pass on to their kids.

    Look at the military. They use harsh drilling to make up for years of educational and cultural slackness. And it works, by god.

    So if we are honest with oursleves we say, yep, we blew it as a culture. And this generation is going to pay the price. Teachers are going to drill the hell out of students to raise our average.

    The next generation, if we succeed, should have no problem. Because like the semi-interested kids in my wealthy blase So Cal town, they’d have enough of a base just by their home level to pass this stuff. Then you can talk about preferences. Until then, you’ve got to nail the basics.

    This doesn’t mean we need to go back to England of the 1800’s and the switch. And it doesn’t mean that plenty of low performers won’t do great and become wealthy as adults. Or that anybody is worthless. It just means that we are making a national commitment to raise our average level of information and analytical ability.

  12. As a teacher n China I have to say Government run tests arethe best way to raise communists all they are taught for here is fill in the bubble tests if you ask them to write what they think they ask why.

    So maybe the teachers who are letting their kids cheat at fill in the bubble test are to busy trying to teach their kids life skills.

    Democracy requires a real and deverse education not just one national test unless you want voting to be like that to. Everyone fills in the bubble that the Government said is right and bam we get the leaders they thing we wanted them to pick. Well thats how standard testing works here its simple brain control its great glad out government does it to its great.

  13. Government has no place in education just like Unions have no place in education. Yet here we are….Unions dictating how bad teachers still get to teach. Killing voucher legislation. Pretty soon there will be Union sponsored legislation killing home schooling. Don’t think it could happen? Consider this: The Obama administration has already rewritten bankruptcy law with full support of all the unions. Socialism at it’s best.

  14. Has anyone actually looked at the questions on these tests? They ask things like, ‘What counting number comes right after 539?’ or ‘Which digit of this number is in the hundreds place? 5,769’. and teachers complain that they have to teach to the test. Yes teachers, unfortunately the government is forcing you to teach kids how to count. The other questions are similar. I can imagine some lib primary ed teacher “can you believe they are making me teach my students how to read!? How will I ever fit in the lesson I had planned explaining how everyone is special? I won’t even have time to teach kids that it’s OK to be gay, and we definitely won’t have time to practice the new song I wrote about how great Obama is! If only I didn’t have to teach to the test, I wouldn’t have to waste my student’s time teaching them how to interpret numbers or do simple arithmetic. Man, I HATE George W. Bush!”

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