The continuing devaluation of education in the US

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Broomstick » 2017-11-14 01:12pm

ray245 wrote:
2017-11-14 12:02pm
There is a stigma against people who are older in colleges.
There's a stigma against people who are older in the workplace, too. And your point is...? We are talking about changing the system and society.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by ray245 » 2017-11-14 01:41pm

Broomstick wrote:
2017-11-14 01:12pm
There's a stigma against people who are older in the workplace, too. And your point is...? We are talking about changing the system and society.
I'm saying part of the reason people felt compelled to go to college as soon as possible has been influenced by the fear that going to college at an older age means you are intellectually inferior to your peers by potential employers.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-15 06:29pm

ray245 wrote:
2017-11-14 01:41pm
Broomstick wrote:
2017-11-14 01:12pm
There's a stigma against people who are older in the workplace, too. And your point is...? We are talking about changing the system and society.
I'm saying part of the reason people felt compelled to go to college as soon as possible has been influenced by the fear that going to college at an older age means you are intellectually inferior to your peers by potential employers.
Since most employers expect you to have a college degree and five to ten years of work experience, having gone to college ten years later is not really setting you back in respect to others meeting this base requirement.

Also, it usually means that you are having an easier time in college for being more mature and coincidentally, chosing a degree you know you like and need, based on your life experience. Unlike a hormone riddled teenager having to make a decision about his future life on a whim.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Gandalf » 2017-11-15 07:46pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2017-11-14 12:17pm
While I can't speak authoritatively... no, not really. Colleges in the US don't really care that much as long as you have enough academic credentials to get in and have some way of putting forth money. The credentials, if you didn't graduate high school, can generally be acquired by testing, said tests aren't that uncommon; and the money... there's any number of organizations only too happy to lend you money at exorbitant rates, you can use a credit card, you can save up for most of your adult life and pay for it that way, whatever.

But age? While my experience is now over 10 years behind me now, even then they didn't care at my school. I had several classes with some students in their 30s and 40s. Part of the deal there is that most of these older students have their own living and meal arrangements; they aren't involved socially with the younger generation at college. They go there pretty much solely for academic reasons, and when they leave school, they have jobs to go to (or come from, night classes aren't that uncommon). They aren't (usually) going to attempt to awkwardly blend into campus social life with all the young'uns. I can see there being issues with older people trying to *socialize* at college, but if they're only there for their education, then it's generally not particularly an issue.
I can assure you that there is a bit of a stigma, at least here, because of the stereotype of the dreaded mature age student, which is unfortunately all too real. Imagine someone who comes into tutorials, insists on answering every question put to the class, and then decides to question everyone and everything based on their own (irrelevant) life experiences or having engaged with coffee table literature or a History Channel doco. When trying to teach a class, or run a discussion, it's quite infuriating.

It's not all older students, but it's enough that every other tutor I've come across knows exactly what I mean.
ray245 wrote:
2017-11-14 01:41pm
I'm saying part of the reason people felt compelled to go to college as soon as possible has been influenced by the fear that going to college at an older age means you are intellectually inferior to your peers by potential employers.
Indeed. A friend of mine who works recruitment once told me that they prefer younger people because it's generally easier to get them to do things like stay back late, or relocate, while working for less money.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-11-16 04:28pm

Gandalf wrote:
2017-11-15 07:46pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2017-11-14 12:17pm
While I can't speak authoritatively... no, not really. Colleges in the US don't really care that much as long as you have enough academic credentials to get in and have some way of putting forth money. The credentials, if you didn't graduate high school, can generally be acquired by testing, said tests aren't that uncommon; and the money... there's any number of organizations only too happy to lend you money at exorbitant rates, you can use a credit card, you can save up for most of your adult life and pay for it that way, whatever.

But age? While my experience is now over 10 years behind me now, even then they didn't care at my school. I had several classes with some students in their 30s and 40s. Part of the deal there is that most of these older students have their own living and meal arrangements; they aren't involved socially with the younger generation at college. They go there pretty much solely for academic reasons, and when they leave school, they have jobs to go to (or come from, night classes aren't that uncommon). They aren't (usually) going to attempt to awkwardly blend into campus social life with all the young'uns. I can see there being issues with older people trying to *socialize* at college, but if they're only there for their education, then it's generally not particularly an issue.
I can assure you that there is a bit of a stigma, at least here, because of the stereotype of the dreaded mature age student, which is unfortunately all too real. Imagine someone who comes into tutorials, insists on answering every question put to the class, and then decides to question everyone and everything based on their own (irrelevant) life experiences or having engaged with coffee table literature or a History Channel doco. When trying to teach a class, or run a discussion, it's quite infuriating.

It's not all older students, but it's enough that every other tutor I've come across knows exactly what I mean.
I cannot say for your personal experiences and I only went through it as a student rather than an educator. Certainly having a broader range of life experience probably influences how people approach their education if they take it up later in life, yes, and I have no doubt that it makes some of them MORE difficult to engage on a teacher-student level. Is this the majority, or is it a minority that becomes the stereotype?
ray245 wrote:
2017-11-14 01:41pm
I'm saying part of the reason people felt compelled to go to college as soon as possible has been influenced by the fear that going to college at an older age means you are intellectually inferior to your peers by potential employers.
Indeed. A friend of mine who works recruitment once told me that they prefer younger people because it's generally easier to get them to do things like stay back late, or relocate, while working for less money.
Conversely, as time goes on and the value of a college education drops, employers may be more inclined to go for the person with a longer history of work experience and references that they can call up to ask 'is this person a good employee' rather than the recent college graduate who's got a freshly minted B.S. in Toilet Paper. But certainly the benefits of getting someone younger who they can work harder are there, I can see that older people might be less interested in accommodating bollocks like that.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Lonestar » 2017-11-16 06:37pm

ray245 wrote:
2017-11-14 01:41pm


I'm saying part of the reason people felt compelled to go to college as soon as possible has been influenced by the fear that going to college at an older age means you are intellectually inferior to your peers by potential employers.
Not if you're already gainfully employed.

Man if you're making hiring decisions based on "he got his undergraduate degree in his mid 30s" you need to re-assess yourself. I wouldn't let you on the hiring committee.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Gandalf » 2017-11-16 07:44pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2017-11-16 04:28pm
I cannot say for your personal experiences and I only went through it as a student rather than an educator. Certainly having a broader range of life experience probably influences how people approach their education if they take it up later in life, yes, and I have no doubt that it makes some of them MORE difficult to engage on a teacher-student level. Is this the majority, or is it a minority that becomes the stereotype?
Based on nought but my own experiences, I'd say it's a slim majority which makes it terrible for the rest. Mature age students tend to do the work, and put in the effort, and I'm always happy to set aside some time to help them get into the academic swing of things for skills they might not have used in a while. That tends to be minor and we have a huge infrastructure designed to help them out. Everyone wins.

The issue comes when people don't seem to understand that their lived experiences don't necessarily make them experts, especially as one goes into theoretical concepts. It's the same thing you see in online conversations where people insist that their age and experience means that everyone should shut up and let them have the floor.
Conversely, as time goes on and the value of a college education drops, employers may be more inclined to go for the person with a longer history of work experience and references that they can call up to ask 'is this person a good employee' rather than the recent college graduate who's got a freshly minted B.S. in Toilet Paper. But certainly the benefits of getting someone younger who they can work harder are there, I can see that older people might be less interested in accommodating bollocks like that.
Or one just starts focusing on the good universities. So while everyone may have a degree, one from Oxbridge looks a lot better than one from Gudger College. Whether Gudger and work history are equal to new Oxbridge will vary across the universe.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by PriestAtopthePyramid » 2017-11-20 10:06am

Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-11-12 11:05am
Broomstick wrote:
2017-11-12 09:50am
Educators not being given the resources to do their jobs.

Educators being forced to teach kids to pass specific tests rather than learn how to think.

Failure to enforce truancy laws and attendance requirements.

Parents that don't give a fuck.

Parents that demand Timmy and Tiffany be given the diploma even if they didn't meet the requirements.
All of the above, yes. In addition to all these things, we do have an actual problem with the diploma being given out too easily... but it also applies to students whose grades are authorized, whose grade change paperwork is filled out to the satisfaction of the grimmest of auditors, and whose attendance is at most marginally peccable.
These just seem like standard excuses for educators, though. Several of these are explicitly "blame the parents" passes at responsibility - I get it, but the goal should obviously be to figure out a communal way to get parents to invest in their kids. (See below).

Some of the remainder are plainly not applicable to the circumstances of the OP: had the educators been "forced to teach kids to pass specific tests," for example, then why would there have been an issue whereby the students could not test as proficient? The thread started by citing
Project Baltimore analyzed 2017 state test scores released this fall. We paged through 16,000 lines of data and uncovered this: Of Baltimore City’s 39 High Schools, 13 had zero students proficient in math.
Digging further, we found another six high schools where one percent tested proficient. Add it up – in half the high schools in Baltimore City, 3804 students took the state test, 14 were proficient in math.
Assuming that proficiency is evaluated using a standardized test, then doesn't this indicate that students are insufficiently prepared for this test? We could talk about whether or not this is a "good" method of educating students, but the issue that the thread complains of seems to be that they weren't proficient in the skills required to pass the proficiency test. Other poor educational outcomes seemed secondary, to me.

The fact that they were given their diplomas strikes me as being a separate problem. I could be mistaken, but didn't the title of the thread refer to the fact that education in the US was being devalued? So it seems like the problem that the title describes is that the value of a diploma has been degraded to the point that people are receiving them despite lacking the capabilities that the diploma is meant to certify.
The pressure to make sure 100% or as close to it as possible of Americans get a high school diploma is papering over the fact that some fraction of the population has an IQ of 80, a work ethic that just plain doesn't activate in institutional or bureaucratic settings, or both. Combine this with the desire to keep the students in high school because if we don't they become near-feral children and get raised by Johnny the Hypersexual Gangster who's marginally older than themselves, because basically all poor and middle-class children have only working parents...
Well, what is the right answer, here? Later in the post, you describe some pretty terrible communal results from taking the opposite course and not acting like a diploma mill. I can't really argue with that, but are there studies on this? Do we actually know if it's better for these students to be graduated despite not being proficient than it would be to deny them diplomas and either drop them out of high school or force them to continue without giving them a diploma? What about for society as a whole, given that there are also costs associated with the loss of prestige for students who are proficient and would be given a diploma regardless? I'm genuinely curious as to what the "right" outcome - both for people who fall into this category and for the rest of society. And in some of these schools it seems to happen very often.
Project Baltimore analyzed 2017 state test scores released this fall. We paged through 16,000 lines of data and uncovered this: Of Baltimore City’s 39 High Schools, 13 had zero students proficient in math.
Digging further, we found another six high schools where one percent tested proficient. Add it up – in half the high schools in Baltimore City, 3804 students took the state test, 14 were proficient in math.
I'm pretty sure that's "proficient" on the national-level PARCC exam. A lot of people with high school diplomas in America, including a lot of grownups who went on to be successful adults, would have gotten "basics" on that test.

It's gotten to the point where "proficient" on the PARCC exams is taken as a priori evidence of 'college readiness,' more or less... which correspondingly means there's no real concept of "knows enough to graduate from high school but not enough to get into college." Which used to be a category that included the bulk of the American population.
So you think the standards are too high? There might be some validity to that given that (virtually) no one is passing these tests. (See below).
How can 70% be graduating from BCPS, when 50% of the student body of BCPS can't even meet the state math testing requirements? :wtf:
The district may have a remedial alternative to the tests; many do or did and have or had them approved at the state level. Something like "complete a summer school course" or "do a big packet of work under supervision of a teacher who gets paid extra to do special tutoring."
That makes sense: or they could be passing a "re-test" or something similar. I have no idea how these proficiency tests are supposed to work in Maryland/Baltimore.
The American education system is built around graduation rates, test scores, and the threat to crush your school with the foot of a bureaucratic Godzilla if you don't provide good numbers on those metrics. This is great if you want the maximum number of kids to have diplomas. It is bad if you want almost any other conceivable thing.
What do you think the incentives should look like, then? I'm not totally clear on how it works at all, and obviously not familiar with these specific schools, but generally schools are measured on things like truancy rates, test scores, graduation rates. So how should they be measured to produce good students?
At the same time, those perverse incentives aren't going away any time soon. I wonder what shocking exposes these same local news providers would make if the school districts in question started flunking out 20% of their student bodies or repeatedly holding them back in the 8th or 9th grade until they either dropped out or shaped up to national average standards. Or whether society in the area would just fall apart under a tidal wave of hooligans. Because that's what it would look like if the schools actually did fiercely enforce "dammit, we want diplomas to be worth something and we want every student to have all their i's dotted and their t's crossed."
Well, again I could be wrong, but I think that that's part of the issue that the main post complained of: the diploma is now worthless because you have "a tidal wave of hooligans" who are currently getting diplomas. Presumably, this reduces the value of that diploma to the people who have legitimately earned it.
Educators being forced to teach kids to pass specific tests rather than learn how to think.
How are you supposed to evaluate learning if you don't do standardized tests periodically? While I agree that the frequency of them have become absurd, they are needed for identifying problem spots and measuring performance.
There's a big gap between "we don't DO standardized tests" and the current situation with respect to standardized tests. A healthy approach exists somewhere within that gap.[/quote]

Completely agree. Maybe part of it may be the lack of distinction with the exams. Given that you have a standardized test, "Proficient" and "Not Proficient" seem like they're fairly poor methods of evaluating the degree of proficiency that students display. Surely a standardized test in math should be able to separate someone who is not proficient at basic arithmetic from one who isn't proficient in trigonometry from someone who is fully capable of (say) integrating by parts, and it could actually help in assessing where the students should be placed in order to best continue with their education. (Of course, maybe the tests already do this and it's just being buried by the fact that "non-proficient" is papering over these gradations).
Failure to enforce truancy laws and attendance requirements.

Parents that don't give a fuck.

Parents that demand Timmy and Tiffany be given the diploma even if they didn't meet the requirements.
These three are probably the biggest factors. It doesn't matter if you have the Budget of God and Teachers from Heaven if the students don't give a fuck and don't want to learn.
It's entirely possible. I wonder if there are ways to encourage parents to get their kids properly educated, since it's almost certainly one of the primary issues, here. According to an earlier post, these districts are fairly well funded. If this is the problem, maybe they should try and spread the wealth and pay parents to educate their kids appropriately? Maybe that would be better than throwing the funding at the schools, given that the current strategy doesn't appear to be working if the (admittedly sensationalist) story can be believed at all.
Or the parents don't give a fuck, or the parents only care about the outcome (Timmy need diploma RAARGH), or the parents come from this bizarre anti-paperwork parallel universe where just getting a damn form filled out becomes a painful adventure, and have inculcated their students in same.
Yeah, the parents you're portraying are really short-term thinkers, here. "Little Timmy needs a diploma... which we'll just conveniently remember when it comes time to graduate and not at any time during the preceding 17+ years of his life." Granted I get it: it's a lot easier to spot that issue and act on it when the milestone is about to be not-reached, but maybe that's where the "fund the parents" should take over.

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-20 09:47pm

PriestAtopthePyramid wrote:
2017-11-20 10:06am
Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-11-12 11:05am
Broomstick wrote:
2017-11-12 09:50am
Educators not being given the resources to do their jobs.

Educators being forced to teach kids to pass specific tests rather than learn how to think.

Failure to enforce truancy laws and attendance requirements.

Parents that don't give a fuck.

Parents that demand Timmy and Tiffany be given the diploma even if they didn't meet the requirements.
All of the above, yes. In addition to all these things, we do have an actual problem with the diploma being given out too easily... but it also applies to students whose grades are authorized, whose grade change paperwork is filled out to the satisfaction of the grimmest of auditors, and whose attendance is at most marginally peccable.
These just seem like standard excuses for educators, though. Several of these are explicitly "blame the parents" passes at responsibility - I get it, but the goal should obviously be to figure out a communal way to get parents to invest in their kids. (See below).
Hint: "the parents aren't doing their share" is a standard educator excuse for why kids don't learn more for the same reasons "that damn artillery keeps shelling us" is a standard soldier excuse for why they don't capture more ground on the battlefield. It's not standard because every teacher spontaneously makes the exact same false excuses for failure, which when you think about it seems unlikely anyway. It's standard because it's omnipresent and true. Student outcomes really DO depend on a huge range of things that are very strongly correlated with parental life competence, parenting skill, parental ability to help their children versus harming their children, and so on.

Now, I totally agree "the goal should obviously be to figure out a communal way to get parents to invest in their kids," but that is waaaay above the pay grade of public school teachers and probably above the pay grade of public school bureaucracy. If your prescription for curing a disease is "we need to reform society to fix this," that's totally fine, but don't blame the local pharmacist if he can't fill the prescription out.
Some of the remainder are plainly not applicable to the circumstances of the OP: had the educators been "forced to teach kids to pass specific tests," for example, then why would there have been an issue whereby the students could not test as proficient?
One answer to this question is that focusing on specific, arbitrary curriculum requirements in the short term can undermine their mastery of skills they need to stay on grade level in the long term. Memorizing canned procedures and canned information may be a good way to pass poorly designed tests at Grade X, while gradually undermining the study habits and critical thinking skills that would enable students to master content at the high school level at Grade X+5. Or, the tests may have gotten significantly more rigorous over the past five years (anecdotally, they have), resulting in an apparent 'epidemic' of students failing to perform satisfactorily, because we cranked up the definition of 'satisfactory.'

Which is not to say that we're wrong to raise our standards, but the blunt reality is that when you raise your standards you either:
1) Take a hopefully temporary hit to your pass rate, or
2) Kick out some of the most un-helpable students to maintain your pass rate.

The latter can't happen in the public schools, not really, so the former does. Surprise, surprise.
Assuming that proficiency is evaluated using a standardized test, then doesn't this indicate that students are insufficiently prepared for this test? We could talk about whether or not this is a "good" method of educating students, but the issue that the thread complains of seems to be that they weren't proficient in the skills required to pass the proficiency test. Other poor educational outcomes seemed secondary, to me.

The fact that they were given their diplomas strikes me as being a separate problem. I could be mistaken, but didn't the title of the thread refer to the fact that education in the US was being devalued? So it seems like the problem that the title describes is that the value of a diploma has been degraded to the point that people are receiving them despite lacking the capabilities that the diploma is meant to certify.
I don't disagree with any of this. However, it's hard to talk specifically about why students perform poorly on a rigorous standardized test, without talking about the reasons in general why their performance is poor on everything else.
The pressure to make sure 100% or as close to it as possible of Americans get a high school diploma is papering over the fact that some fraction of the population has an IQ of 80, a work ethic that just plain doesn't activate in institutional or bureaucratic settings, or both. Combine this with the desire to keep the students in high school because if we don't they become near-feral children and get raised by Johnny the Hypersexual Gangster who's marginally older than themselves, because basically all poor and middle-class children have only working parents...
Well, what is the right answer, here? Later in the post, you describe some pretty terrible communal results from taking the opposite course and not acting like a diploma mill.
I don't know. I think we as a society could cope with those results if we resolved to do so. We managed it back in the '60s and earlier. The problem is that we'd have to commit to changing a LOT of things, not just the schools. For example, instituting a basic minimum income guarantee would help a lot because then we wouldn't have to panic over "but kids who don't get a diploma are almost unemployable and get outcompeted for jobs by the people WITH diplomas!" But that's a decision that is totally outside the domain of the public schools, even if it would do a huge amount to support the public schools.

(Incidentally, it would probably also indirectly support the public schools by increasing the number of people willing or able to volunteer to help out with schools, because schools are a major target of volunteerism, and volunteerism is going to go up a lot if people aren't exhausting themselves working at marginally productive jobs...)

I can't really argue with that, but are there studies on this? Do we actually know if it's better for these students to be graduated despite not being proficient than it would be to deny them diplomas and either drop them out of high school or force them to continue without giving them a diploma? What about for society as a whole, given that there are also costs associated with the loss of prestige for students who are proficient and would be given a diploma regardless? I'm genuinely curious as to what the "right" outcome - both for people who fall into this category and for the rest of society. And in some of these schools it seems to happen very often.
Project Baltimore analyzed 2017 state test scores released this fall. We paged through 16,000 lines of data and uncovered this: Of Baltimore City’s 39 High Schools, 13 had zero students proficient in math.
Digging further, we found another six high schools where one percent tested proficient. Add it up – in half the high schools in Baltimore City, 3804 students took the state test, 14 were proficient in math.
I'm pretty sure that's "proficient" on the national-level PARCC exam. A lot of people with high school diplomas in America, including a lot of grownups who went on to be successful adults, would have gotten "basics" on that test.

It's gotten to the point where "proficient" on the PARCC exams is taken as a priori evidence of 'college readiness,' more or less... which correspondingly means there's no real concept of "knows enough to graduate from high school but not enough to get into college." Which used to be a category that included the bulk of the American population.
So you think the standards are too high? There might be some validity to that given that (virtually) no one is passing these tests. (See below).
I think the standards are high. Whether they are too high depends on what we want from the test. If we want an excuse to shriek at every school whose students do not pass the test, then yes, the standards are too high.

If, by contrast, we want a way to measure which students are realio-trulio 100% ready for college or white-collar careers... then no, the standards are not too high.

The catch is that our society seems to have multiple personality disorder on this issue. One minute our standard is "all students should pass some reasonable minimum standard of education." The next, it's "and the standard should be something that indicates students are ready for college," when realistically no more than about 1/2 to 2/3 of the 18-year-old population is EVER going to be ready for college unless we radically reform our society and/or genetically engineer everyone to be 20 IQ points smarter.

So we fall prey into the 'Lake Wobegon' trap of expecting all our students to be above average, then blame the school districts unlucky enough to be saddled with the students who are not, in point of fact, above average.
The American education system is built around graduation rates, test scores, and the threat to crush your school with the foot of a bureaucratic Godzilla if you don't provide good numbers on those metrics. This is great if you want the maximum number of kids to have diplomas. It is bad if you want almost any other conceivable thing.
What do you think the incentives should look like, then? I'm not totally clear on how it works at all, and obviously not familiar with these specific schools, but generally schools are measured on things like truancy rates, test scores, graduation rates. So how should they be measured to produce good students?
Measuring on test scores isn't a bad thing, but the measurements should be based on "are you teaching these students one year worth of grade level knowledge in one year of instruction?" There should be more of an emphasis on tracking and providing challenging content to students who are below grade level (i.e. high school students who need remedial pre-algebra, or who need an English class pitched at a 6th grade level to teach them how to write a coherent paragraph). These students are not necessarily dumb or incapable of hard work. But the hard work it would benefit them to do is totally different from the hard work that would benefit students that are fully on grade level. The reality is, teachers can't profitably teach both groups in the same classroom, while having both groups learn and grow and the myth that we can is causing a lot of damage.

Because it means that either we have a huge number of students just getting totally left behind every year forever, or we have our promising students not developing up to potential so that even our best kids can't pass the really hard tests, so that instead of half the class being a mile behind grade level, the whole class is half a mile behind grade level. Both outcomes are disastrous when something like a PARCC assessment is handed out.

You can't give an Algebra 1 teacher an incoming freshman population that is 50% or more NOT on grade level and prepared to start taking algebra, then judge them on how many of the students know all of Algebra 1 at year's end. It's grossly unfair, on a "castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful" level of unfairness.

And yet, that is what many public schools are forced to do.
Completely agree. Maybe part of it may be the lack of distinction with the exams. Given that you have a standardized test, "Proficient" and "Not Proficient" seem like they're fairly poor methods of evaluating the degree of proficiency that students display. Surely a standardized test in math should be able to separate someone who is not proficient at basic arithmetic from one who isn't proficient in trigonometry from someone who is fully capable of (say) integrating by parts, and it could actually help in assessing where the students should be placed in order to best continue with their education. (Of course, maybe the tests already do this and it's just being buried by the fact that "non-proficient" is papering over these gradations).
The tests actually have the wherewithal to do this; it's not a problem with the tests. It's a problem with the reporters who wrote the article not having a clear idea how to interpret the data, or with the data not being reported with proper granularity.
It's entirely possible. I wonder if there are ways to encourage parents to get their kids properly educated, since it's almost certainly one of the primary issues, here. According to an earlier post, these districts are fairly well funded. If this is the problem, maybe they should try and spread the wealth and pay parents to educate their kids appropriately? Maybe that would be better than throwing the funding at the schools, given that the current strategy doesn't appear to be working if the (admittedly sensationalist) story can be believed at all.
Eh... honestly, a big part of the problem isn't parents who actually don't care. It's parents who don't know how, or whose life situation prevents them from being fully involved so that by default their kid gets raised not by a parent but by the TV, Facebook, and Johnny the Hypersexualized Gangster.

Or worse yet, the parents themselves are Johnny the Hypersexualized Gangster and the kind of girl who loves him. People like that will fuck up their kids* even if they THINK they care about the kid's life. And if they're at least sort of trying to be present in that life which is admittedly not a given.

*(or just have poor genes that produce children with a lousy 'starting hand' in life, which is hard to distinguish from the other case)
Or the parents don't give a fuck, or the parents only care about the outcome (Timmy need diploma RAARGH), or the parents come from this bizarre anti-paperwork parallel universe where just getting a damn form filled out becomes a painful adventure, and have inculcated their students in same.
Yeah, the parents you're portraying are really short-term thinkers, here. "Little Timmy needs a diploma... which we'll just conveniently remember when it comes time to graduate and not at any time during the preceding 17+ years of his life."
You bet your ass.

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by PriestAtopthePyramid » 2017-11-21 12:07am

Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-11-20 09:47pm
Hint: "the parents aren't doing their share" is a standard educator excuse for why kids don't learn more for the same reasons "that damn artillery keeps shelling us" is a standard soldier excuse for why they don't capture more ground on the battlefield. It's not standard because every teacher spontaneously makes the exact same false excuses for failure, which when you think about it seems unlikely anyway. It's standard because it's omnipresent and true. Student outcomes really DO depend on a huge range of things that are very strongly correlated with parental life competence, parenting skill, parental ability to help their children versus harming their children, and so on.
My only objection here is that some of these are being applied reflexively - even though they bear virtually no resemblance to the specific issues being complained of. You seem to agree with me, for example, that teaching to standardized tests is not the reason why students have failed at this particular standardized test. But you seemed to acquiesce to the excuse after it was first raised sua sponte by someone else. That's what indicated to me that these are just being used as a form of security blanket rather than after thoughtful reflection and application to this scenario. Surely the soldier's excuse of "damn artillery" wouldn't be valid if they were not at all subjected to artillery fire, and so a soldier who cited that as one of the main factors for the failure to capture ground could still be challenged for that citation.
"Now, I totally agree 'the goal should obviously be to figure out a communal way to get parents to invest in their kids,' but that is waaaay above the pay grade of public school teachers and probably above the pay grade of public school bureaucracy. If your prescription for curing a disease is 'we need to reform society to fix this,' that's totally fine, but don't blame the local pharmacist if he can't fill the prescription out."
I don't know that I was and I'm sorry if it came out that way. In fact, the main reason I object to these excuses is because they are often used to prevent any serious analysis of the social problems involved by masking them over at the level of the school or the teacher. I'm trying to see if there's a real social problem here - kinda seems like there is given that virtually no students from these schools are rated proficient in key subjects - and if so then we should try and figure out what the key factors are in order to redress them. No?
One answer to this question is that focusing on specific, arbitrary curriculum requirements in the short term can undermine their mastery of skills they need to stay on grade level in the long term. Memorizing canned procedures and canned information may be a good way to pass poorly designed tests at Grade X, while gradually undermining the study habits and critical thinking skills that would enable students to master content at the high school level at Grade X+5. Or, the tests may have gotten significantly more rigorous over the past five years (anecdotally, they have), resulting in an apparent 'epidemic' of students failing to perform satisfactorily, because we cranked up the definition of 'satisfactory.'

Which is not to say that we're wrong to raise our standards, but the blunt reality is that when you raise your standards you either:
1) Take a hopefully temporary hit to your pass rate, or
2) Kick out some of the most un-helpable students to maintain your pass rate.

The latter can't happen in the public schools, not really, so the former does. Surprise, surprise.
Okay, so maybe the high school isn't to blame, but the elementary school/middle school is? Now we're just at the level of can-kicking since I'm not trying to focus ire on the schools at all - to say nothing of the specific high school/senior graduating class teacher. If the problem is with the kindergarten (which it may well be - or that may be a good place to deal with it), then can't we try and think critically about what the problem is? Is there data around this issue?
I don't disagree with any of this. However, it's hard to talk specifically about why students perform poorly on a rigorous standardized test, without talking about the reasons in general why their performance is poor on everything else.
Is their performance poor on everything else? Do we know that? If so, how does that help the analysis?
I don't know. I think we as a society could cope with those results if we resolved to do so. We managed it back in the '60s and earlier. The problem is that we'd have to commit to changing a LOT of things, not just the schools. For example, instituting a basic minimum income guarantee would help a lot because then we wouldn't have to panic over "but kids who don't get a diploma are almost unemployable and get outcompeted for jobs by the people WITH diplomas!" But that's a decision that is totally outside the domain of the public schools, even if it would do a huge amount to support the public schools.

(Incidentally, it would probably also indirectly support the public schools by increasing the number of people willing or able to volunteer to help out with schools, because schools are a major target of volunteerism, and volunteerism is going to go up a lot if people aren't exhausting themselves working at marginally productive jobs...)
I kinda feel like volunteerism isn't the right way to address the issue. If the problem is the lack of support, then why can't you just pay the parents to show up and help? Saying, "Here's money. We hope hope hope you'll help us photocopy study guides" doesn't seem like an efficient way of getting parents into schools.
I think the standards are high. Whether they are too high depends on what we want from the test. If we want an excuse to shriek at every school whose students do not pass the test, then yes, the standards are too high.

If, by contrast, we want a way to measure which students are realio-trulio 100% ready for college or white-collar careers... then no, the standards are not too high.
Agreed - so we have to do a real analysis on whether it's better to just get these students to repeat/drop-out or whether it's better to just treat high school as a diploma mill. Hence why I'd like to see if there's been any real analysis done on the "right" thing to do.
The catch is that our society seems to have multiple personality disorder on this issue. One minute our standard is "all students should pass some reasonable minimum standard of education." The next, it's "and the standard should be something that indicates students are ready for college," when realistically no more than about 1/2 to 2/3 of the 18-year-old population is EVER going to be ready for college unless we radically reform our society and/or genetically engineer everyone to be 20 IQ points smarter.

So we fall prey into the 'Lake Wobegon' trap of expecting all our students to be above average, then blame the school districts unlucky enough to be saddled with the students who are not, in point of fact, above average.
You seem to have hit the nail on the head. Perhaps the issue is the need for parents to feel that their kids are the special snowflakes who may not know basic arithmetic but will damn sure make something of themselves once they get into Harvard on a basketball scholarship.
Measuring on test scores isn't a bad thing, but the measurements should be based on "are you teaching these students one year worth of grade level knowledge in one year of instruction?" There should be more of an emphasis on tracking and providing challenging content to students who are below grade level (i.e. high school students who need remedial pre-algebra, or who need an English class pitched at a 6th grade level to teach them how to write a coherent paragraph). These students are not necessarily dumb or incapable of hard work. But the hard work it would benefit them to do is totally different from the hard work that would benefit students that are fully on grade level. The reality is, teachers can't profitably teach both groups in the same classroom, while having both groups learn and grow and the myth that we can is causing a lot of damage.
Yeah, and maybe that goes back to the proficiency-test-as-analysis-tool-as-much-as-gatekeeper thought.
Because it means that either we have a huge number of students just getting totally left behind every year forever, or we have our promising students not developing up to potential so that even our best kids can't pass the really hard tests, so that instead of half the class being a mile behind grade level, the whole class is half a mile behind grade level. Both outcomes are disastrous when something like a PARCC assessment is handed out.

You can't give an Algebra 1 teacher an incoming freshman population that is 50% or more NOT on grade level and prepared to start taking algebra, then judge them on how many of the students know all of Algebra 1 at year's end. It's grossly unfair, on a "castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful" level of unfairness.
Totally agree. Are these tests being applied at the level of going against individual teachers? I read the articles of the OP as more damning of the entire educational system, but obviously that was merely my impression of those articles.
The tests actually have the wherewithal to do this; it's not a problem with the tests. It's a problem with the reporters who wrote the article not having a clear idea how to interpret the data, or with the data not being reported with proper granularity.
I see. Then I withdraw that as anything constructive. I assume that the tests actually being used to sort students into appropriate course material, then? I'm surprised that that hasn't been more effective, then, and I may be all out of ideas. Who would have thought that professional educators who dedicate their lives to these issues would have covered the bases that I came up with having read a message board's summary of a newspaper clipping. :?

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-21 01:23am

PriestAtopthePyramid wrote:
2017-11-21 12:07am
Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-11-20 09:47pm
Hint: "the parents aren't doing their share" is a standard educator excuse for why kids don't learn more for the same reasons "that damn artillery keeps shelling us" is a standard soldier excuse for why they don't capture more ground on the battlefield. It's not standard because every teacher spontaneously makes the exact same false excuses for failure, which when you think about it seems unlikely anyway. It's standard because it's omnipresent and true. Student outcomes really DO depend on a huge range of things that are very strongly correlated with parental life competence, parenting skill, parental ability to help their children versus harming their children, and so on.
My only objection here is that some of these are being applied reflexively - even though they bear virtually no resemblance to the specific issues being complained of.
I possess imperfect mental discipline. You are free to point this fact out; I can only acknowledge it.
You seem to agree with me, for example, that teaching to standardized tests is not the reason why students have failed at this particular standardized test. But you seemed to acquiesce to the excuse after it was first raised sua sponte by someone else. That's what indicated to me that these are just being used as a form of security blanket rather than after thoughtful reflection and application to this scenario. Surely the soldier's excuse of "damn artillery" wouldn't be valid if they were not at all subjected to artillery fire, and so a soldier who cited that as one of the main factors for the failure to capture ground could still be challenged for that citation.
I noted second-order effects as well, though. Teaching to today's test and others like it may gradually undermine the long-term intellectual development needed to perform well on another test, five years down the line, for instance.

Furthermore, as noted, I possess imperfect mental discipline. If a soldier is under continuous artillery bombardment, and has a problem that is not directly caused by enemy artillery, it is still possible for him to absent-mindedly or unthinkingly agree that "damn artillery" is one of a list of separate factors causing the problem.

I'm not going to deny the very specific point that prepping students for a single test should not cause them to perform poorly on that specific test. On that, I can only plead imperfect mental discipline.
"Now, I totally agree 'the goal should obviously be to figure out a communal way to get parents to invest in their kids,' but that is waaaay above the pay grade of public school teachers and probably above the pay grade of public school bureaucracy. If your prescription for curing a disease is 'we need to reform society to fix this,' that's totally fine, but don't blame the local pharmacist if he can't fill the prescription out."
I don't know that I was and I'm sorry if it came out that way. In fact, the main reason I object to these excuses is because they are often used to prevent any serious analysis of the social problems involved by masking them over at the level of the school or the teacher. I'm trying to see if there's a real social problem here - kinda seems like there is given that virtually no students from these schools are rated proficient in key subjects - and if so then we should try and figure out what the key factors are in order to redress them. No?
On the contrary, teachers and everyone even vaguely involved with education continuously analyze the social problems involved. No one with enough power to change things listens, insofar as there even is anyone with enough power to change things.

Nothing is, in my honest opinion, being masked or hidden here.
Okay, so maybe the high school isn't to blame, but the elementary school/middle school is? Now we're just at the level of can-kicking since I'm not trying to focus ire on the schools at all - to say nothing of the specific high school/senior graduating class teacher. If the problem is with the kindergarten (which it may well be - or that may be a good place to deal with it), then can't we try and think critically about what the problem is? Is there data around this issue?
There are certainly a lot of data around what kinds of elementary school programs produce good outcomes and which ones don't. That would be the starting point. My general impression is that heavy testing is at best unhelpful at that level. I cannot comment as to what things are most useful, since elementary education is not my specialty.

I honestly don't want to blame the schools at any level here. Insofar as "teaching to the test" is a problem, it's a problem brought on by perverse incentives that the schools are doing their best to respond to correctly and rationally.
I don't disagree with any of this. However, it's hard to talk specifically about why students perform poorly on a rigorous standardized test, without talking about the reasons in general why their performance is poor on everything else.
Is their performance poor on everything else? Do we know that? If so, how does that help the analysis?
In general, poor performance on all these metrics (graduation rate, retention rate, test scores, college admissions performance, etc.) are all correlated. The schools at the bottom on one metric tend to be low on the others, and the ones at the top tend to be high on the others.

This is arguably because, among other things, ALL these metrics are strongly correlated with underlying metrics that are "built into" the school and have nothing to do with the school's instructional policies and organization. Such as socioeconomic status, and probably also other factors like lead exposure among the school's student population.

For example, rich kids tend to do well in school. Poor kids tend to do badly. Schools with poor kids tend to have low test scores AND low graduation rates AND high suspension rates AND this AND that. Schools with rich kids tend to flip that around.

Most other factors that cause kids to do well or poorly on standardized tests will similarly have a "falling meteor shower sinks all boats" dynamic; they're not just blasting the test scores while leaving everything else untouched.
I kinda feel like volunteerism isn't the right way to address the issue. If the problem is the lack of support, then why can't you just pay the parents to show up and help? Saying, "Here's money. We hope hope hope you'll help us photocopy study guides" doesn't seem like an efficient way of getting parents into schools.
Guaranteed minimum income isn't ONLY targeted at educational issues. It would address a very wide variety of separate issues.

ONE of those issues is that, in broad and in general, much of the US population works at jobs they do not care for because they have to, in order to put food on the table. Many of them do not have the time or energy it would take to do other things they might choose to do instead, such as volunteering. One of the things they might choose to do is help out at local schools, so largely by coincidence, a guaranteed minimum income might have a second-order positive effect on schools.

This is purely a side-effect, though, and the primary effect is to relieve the intense pressure to pump credentials into students in hopes of maximizing their employability. And that would help. Since this pumping process is obviously self-defeating for society as a whole (it just leads to credential inflation), but strongly incentivized for any specific person (employers won't ignore your lack of a high school diploma just because you pin a letter about credential inflation to your resume).
Agreed - so we have to do a real analysis on whether it's better to just get these students to repeat/drop-out or whether it's better to just treat high school as a diploma mill. Hence why I'd like to see if there's been any real analysis done on the "right" thing to do.
The subject may be too hard to analyze in formal terms, honestly. It's hard to predict what would happen if we let masses of students drop out of high school, or forced them out ourselves, in an attempt to ensure that the 70% or whatever that graduated were being held to higher standards. It is extra double plus hard to predict what would happen if we combined that with social programs that don't actually exist in the present day.
The catch is that our society seems to have multiple personality disorder on this issue. One minute our standard is "all students should pass some reasonable minimum standard of education." The next, it's "and the standard should be something that indicates students are ready for college," when realistically no more than about 1/2 to 2/3 of the 18-year-old population is EVER going to be ready for college unless we radically reform our society and/or genetically engineer everyone to be 20 IQ points smarter.

So we fall prey into the 'Lake Wobegon' trap of expecting all our students to be above average, then blame the school districts unlucky enough to be saddled with the students who are not, in point of fact, above average.
You seem to have hit the nail on the head. Perhaps the issue is the need for parents to feel that their kids are the special snowflakes who may not know basic arithmetic but will damn sure make something of themselves once they get into Harvard on a basketball scholarship.
That is an issue, but only one of many.

Just as much of a problem are parents who simply do not accept that their child is unfit for public high school due to behavioral issues, or needs some kind of frankly dumbed-down program due to cognitive issues. Parents want to fight for their children, but it's very easy to lose sight of whether you're fighting for the child or for your own image of the child. No one wants to be told that their son with developmental disorders and an IQ of 55 and a habit of randomly assaulting girls in the hallways because he can't cope with the social/psychological pressure of attending a crowded high school... needs to be somewhere else.

And yet, as long as that kid is at the school, resources are tied down that could more profitably be spent on a lot of other things.
Totally agree. Are these tests being applied at the level of going against individual teachers? I read the articles of the OP as more damning of the entire educational system, but obviously that was merely my impression of those articles.
Some systems do hold it against the teachers individually, some don't. But it doesn't really matter because all teachers in the same general area have the same problem. All the local high schools get kids behind grade level, with the exact proportion varying but the overall pattern still being in place. All the schools have this problem of kids who desperately need remediation and repeat courses being shoveled into the same courses as the students who are prepared...

Because it's just "not acceptable" to admit that students at Inner City Municipal High School are in only 20% of cases ready to take Algebra I in the 9th grade, while students at Uberleet Suck My Gated Community High School are in 90% of cases ready. Except that, realistically, the consequence of pouring the ICMHS students into the algebra course are either that the majority of them flunk the course, or that they get a stripped-down, crude, training-wheels version of the course that is utterly incomparable to what the USMGCHS students are getting.
The tests actually have the wherewithal to do this; it's not a problem with the tests. It's a problem with the reporters who wrote the article not having a clear idea how to interpret the data, or with the data not being reported with proper granularity.
I see. Then I withdraw that as anything constructive. I assume that the tests actually being used to sort students into appropriate course material, then? I'm surprised that that hasn't been more effective, then, and I may be all out of ideas.
This has, on the whole, not been tried, in part for reasons given above.

To the best of my knowledge, most developed countries do a lot more with tracking of students into courses whose content suits their current achievement level than the US does. Certainly more than the state of Maryland does.

We COULD do that. Tests exist that would do a fucking excellent job of math placement for students. Colleges have already solved this problem with their placement exams, and I've seen tests so cleverly designed to do the job that they make the typical college placement exam of 10-15 years ago look pathetic by comparison. The Scholastic Math Inventory in particular is a brilliant piece of work.

The problem is that while we have the tools, we don't seem collectively willing to use them in the appropriate manner.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Civil War Man » 2017-11-21 01:32pm

So I'm not speaking as a teacher myself, but as the son of a former teacher, so my experience on this is fairly limited and second-hand, but here are a few observations on why some students might do poorly on a standardized test even when the classes are structured around preparing them for it.

1. The class doesn't adequately prepare them for the test, which can be due to a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to having a poor teacher, poor teaching materials, previous tests not adequately teaching the necessary concepts required to pass the current one, or the student having a learning disability of some type.

2. The student does not perform well in a testing environment. They may grasp the concepts well enough, but then clam up once the test begins. Maybe they're prone to anxiety, or have a hard time concentrating.

3. Fatigue. My mother got out of teaching before the standardized testing really got out of hand, but by all accounts after she left the tests became more numerous, more frequent, and started at a younger and younger age each year. There was an article posted here only a few years back of kids in elementary school having nervous breakdowns because they were so overwhelmed by the testing schedule.

Testing is obviously part of the process, and should be part of the process, but it is harmful to have it be the end-all be-all of it. One thing that my mother would often point out when asked is that, when she assigned project work that encouraged the students to think creatively about the subject matter, the ones who tended to do the best were the ones that were often labeled as "poor" students, like special ed kids or discipline problems. The "good" students tended to put in little to no effort, since these projects tended to either not be graded (since that was not the point of them), or not make up a significant percentage of the final grade.

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-21 04:23pm

Just one question to clarify my curiosity - how many tests are there per subject and per year in highschool - let's say in maths?
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by White Haven » 2017-11-21 06:48pm

Let's not say 'in maths,' shan't we? If we're discussing (among other things) testing fatigue and load on students, breaking a single subject's testing out for discussion somewhat misses the point. If you've ever had a school teacher say something along the lines of 'I only assign an hour of homework' as if each and every student in the classroom doesn't have half a dozen others doing the same thing, you know exactly what I'm referring to.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Batman » 2017-11-21 07:08pm

It's a legitimate question and it's not like he said math is the only subject being tested, he said 'per subject' and just brought up math as an example.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by White Haven » 2017-11-21 07:12pm

And the bloody point I'm making, that seems to have flown over your cowl, is that breaking it down per-subject misses the point entirely.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Batman » 2017-11-21 07:16pm

Except he's not doing that. All he asked for was an example. He never implied he expected OTHER subjects to have more or fewer tests. All he wanted was a sample.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by White Haven » 2017-11-21 07:33pm

And I'm saying that bringing up that number will unintentionally tilt the discussion because it's not just unuseful but actually counterproductive when discussing this topic. And who the fuck are you anyway, his cheerleader?
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by PriestAtopthePyramid » 2017-11-21 07:36pm

And it looks like the answer to his question focusing only on the standardized tests is once in the State of California:

https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/

Presumably the teachers of individual subjects will quiz and test their students periodically throughout the year. Students may also be taking tests like the SAT/ACT (for college admissions), and for specific subject matter mastery (as in the AP college exams).

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Batman » 2017-11-21 08:12pm

White Haven wrote:
2017-11-21 07:33pm
And I'm saying that bringing up that number will unintentionally tilt the discussion because it's not just unuseful but actually counterproductive when discussing this topic.
And I (and, apparently, LaCroix) disagree.
And who the fuck are you anyway, his cheerleader?
I'm the man saying that because you declare something doesn't make it true. The number of tests may turn out to be irrelevant or it may not but you don't get to unilaterally decide it is
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-22 04:02am

White Haven wrote:
2017-11-21 06:48pm
Let's not say 'in maths,' shan't we? If we're discussing (among other things) testing fatigue and load on students, breaking a single subject's testing out for discussion somewhat misses the point. If you've ever had a school teacher say something along the lines of 'I only assign an hour of homework' as if each and every student in the classroom doesn't have half a dozen others doing the same thing, you know exactly what I'm referring to.
Uh, no, because that teacher is then committing the obvious mistake of not multiplying by six or seven or whatever to estimate the student's total workload.

That's not proof that 'breaking a single subject's testing out for discussion somewhat misses the point.' That's proof that if you take a number that is one seventh of a larger total, and forget to multiply by seven, you will underestimate the total. The mistake is the forgetting to multiply.
White Haven wrote:
2017-11-21 07:12pm
And the bloody point I'm making, that seems to have flown over your cowl, is that breaking it down per-subject misses the point entirely.
Uh... no, no it doesn't, because you can then estimate the number of tests taken per year. It's not a perfect estimate, but it's better than nothing.

For example, I could roughly estimate how many math tests are given per year in a certain Maryland school district. I can't estimate how many English or social studies tests are given per year, because I don't know. Estimation is a very common way of arriving at roughly, vaguely correct numbers, and it is usually better than having no numbers at all.

The hard part is that the number of tests varies radically from subject to subject; math gets one of the heaviest testing burdens because it's deemed one of the Two Big Things. The other being, of course, English.
White Haven wrote:
2017-11-21 07:33pm
And I'm saying that bringing up that number will unintentionally tilt the discussion because it's not just unuseful but actually counterproductive when discussing this topic. And who the fuck are you anyway, his cheerleader?
Please, cool your jets.

I don't know what about this issue is triggering you, but seriously, all anyone else is trying to do is get a number estimate, or range of numbers, like "there are between thirty and sixty Big Stupid Tests being administered per year." This is not going to cause everyone to explode and die, it is not going to cause us all to automagically pick a stupid opinion. It is going to be more information than we would otherwise possess. There is no need to fight this thing fiercely.
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LaCroix
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-22 04:48am

Haven - how am we supposed to discuss if the workload is appropriate or not if we don't know the actual numbers? If I know that one subject is having x test per year, and you are supposed to have, say 8-12 classes, of which each most likely test about as often, then I have an actual number.

That's basic fact checking.

I am astonished it's only one mayor test per subject. That sounds like entirely to little to me. I'd been delighted if it was that little. We had 3 or 4 mayor tests (as in 80-90% of your grade is from them) per core subject and year (only 2 for side subjects like biology, chemistry and physics), and zero of those were multiple choice.

Diggin out my test curriculum when I was 14(8th grade), I had:
4xMaths
4xGerman
3xEnglish(first non-native)
2xBiology
2xChemistry
2xHistory&Sociology
2xGeography

Then there were easier tests for these subjects, mostly by project presentation, a paper, or making something:
2xReligion
2xCrafts
2xSports ;)
2xMusic
2xArt

That is not counting about the same amount of small tests/quizzes and papers in-between these mayor tests.

But we never considered this a big workload. And again - none of these were multiple choice.

Looking through my later stuff (9-12th grade), we always had 12 classes, half of them cores, and I usually had like 30-36 mayor tests per year (some of them were 2 periods long - 100minutes). Again, no multiple choice.

In graduation year, it was even worse.

You finished with the regular tests for the year, and got your marks for the year. If you passed, you had 2 months prep time in school, and then wrote an additional test and had an oral exam in each of the 6 cores and one elective covering the whole curriculum, and got your diploma if you passed that (you could repeat failed exams at a later date).

So you could pass highschool, but not get a diploma in our system.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-22 05:09am

LaCroix, the kind of tests you're talking about are very different from the ones we're talking about.

The US has an epidemic of standardized multiple choice tests that are used by state and local governments to collect data on student achievement, but which the teachers are often not allowed to grade students on (because then it wouldn't be fair, you see :rolleyes: ). Sometimes there is one such test per year. Sometimes there are four, one per quarter. Sometimes there are multiple overlapping and interlocking testing regimes in place including college entry tests like the SAT, county tests, and state tests.

Typical geometry students in my district can look forward to at least, oh... eight or nine such tests off the top of my head, for instance. It's enough to leave a lot of the people involved feeling like time is being wasted.

That is before we count any tests designed by the teachers to assess and grade their own students.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Zwinmar » 2017-11-22 09:17am

In college my problem with the one math class I had to take (Survey of Math) was I transpose numbers, i.e. I see and work a problem that I think says 38, it really said 83. As can be well imagined, this made math both extremely difficult and frustrating. I can understand the concepts but when it takes me 15 minutes to do one problem and the homework is effectively 60 problems, yeah, I barely passed that class.

My point is, the school should have picked up on this when I was in elementary school as I did receive additional tutoring just for being able to read an analog clock face.

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-22 10:25am

By this point there's a federal mandate to provide accommodations for cases like yours, and we do test for them as early as practical. It falls under special education. Our detection rate isn't 100%, but the infrastructure is very much there, including at the elementary school level at least in my school district.

I don't know quite how old you are, so I can't easily estimate how much of this was your schools doing a suboptimal job, versus you growing up in the Bad Old Days. Fifty years ago, a student whose brain transposed numbers was probably just going to get written off as stupid, sadly.
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