The continuing devaluation of education in the US

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-22 01:30pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
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.
Wait, what?

That is stupid. Student achievement is already tracked sufficiently by their annual grades. I can see the need for SAT testing, but everything else is micromanagment.

Just so I can comprehend the scope of this problem - you said "typical geometry student" does that mean that you can have 8 such tests during highschool career, or per class? 8 total for all courses or 8 per class?
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-22 02:49pm

Yes, yes it is in fact stupid.

Geometry students in my school districts take at least... let's see, three or four county-mandated unit tests which MIGHT be usable as substitutes for some of the tests a teacher would give, or not, I'm not sure. At least two iterations of a test designed to measure teacher performance on a "before and after" metric that serve no purpose but to measure teacher performance. At least one, I'm pretty sure two, iterations of the Scholastic Math Inventory test, which is a brilliant diagnostic instrument that we don't actually have much opportunity to use the data from. Many of the students will be retaking the county's mandatory Algebra 1 PARCC test because you need it to graduate and only the best students actually pass the test on the first try. And they will mostly be taking least one iteration of the "Pre-SAT," an SAT-like test that is basically "SAT Junior-" but which is not math-specific so I'm not sure how to count it.

Now, I'm not saying it's that bad every year, or in every subject. But that adds up to somewhere between six and ten math-specific tests in that one year, before we even count any large tests created or assigned by the teachers themselves.

That is before we even count large tests associated with English, science, social studies, or electives. I know for a fact that virtually every class has to at least administer the "before and after" teacher performance metric test, I suspect a lot of them have the county-mandated unit tests but am not sure. I know English has some counterpart to the Scholastic Math Inventory.

Some of those tests take up multiple classroom days, too, and since the geometry class only meets every other day, you're easily talking about losing nine out of the ninety instructional days to mandatory testing.

Multiply that out over several grade levels, and a large chunk of the outcome gap that has everyone demanding to know why our students are behind grade level is answered right on the spot... because if they get 90% as much instructional time, at best they learn 90% as much.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-22 05:41pm

So students take between minimum two and up to almost ten extra tests per subject, which take up about 10% of their school time (not counting prep time for these tests), and do not contribute to their grades, at all? In fact, the bare minimum two extras are to grade the teachers?

This is beyond stupid, this advanced stupidity.

In fact, it's so advanced you should need to take a placement test in order to be allowed near it.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Esquire » 2017-11-22 08:19pm

Education policy in the United States is governed by a particularly brutal case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-23 03:16pm

Esquire wrote:
2017-11-22 08:19pm
Education policy in the United States is governed by a particularly brutal case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Yes.*
LaCroix wrote:
2017-11-22 05:41pm
So students take between minimum two and up to almost ten extra tests per subject, which take up about 10% of their school time (not counting prep time for these tests), and do not contribute to their grades, at all? In fact, the bare minimum two extras are to grade the teachers?
Yes.
This is beyond stupid, this advanced stupidity.
Yes.
In fact, it's so advanced you should need to take a placement test in order to be allowed near it.
It's called the Praxis test.

* To add a serious note, the basic approach of the US to standardized testing is very much driven by the Republican administration of Bush the Younger and his party's "No Child Left Behind" law. The "test everyone and blame the schools/teachers if things go badly" institutional mindset is what you get when you tell Republicans it's time for education reform and don't let them use a voucher system whereby the tax dollars that would have gone to send your child to public school can instead be spent on a private school.

The voucher system would have major advantages and disadvantages in itself, but it's not what American education policy in the Oughts (2000-2010) was dominated by. No, that was high-stakes testing.

Obama modified the basic approach but did not eliminate it, and by now most senior figures in education policy have to one extent or another drunk the Kool-Aid, even the 'nice' ones who don't realize they're doing it.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by MKSheppard » 2017-12-05 05:49pm

Continuing this thread general theme:

https://wamu.org/story/17/11/28/really- ... t-college/
Brian Butcher, a history teacher at Ballou High School, sat in the bleachers of the school’s brand new football field last June watching 164 seniors receive diplomas. It was a clear, warm night, and he was surrounded by screaming family and friends snapping photos and cheering.

It was a triumphant moment for the students. For the first time, every Ballou graduate applied and was accepted to college. The school is located in one of D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods; it has struggled academically for years and has had a chronically low graduation rate. In 2016, the school graduated only 57 percent of its seniors according to data from D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), slightly up from 51 percent the year before. For months after June’s commencement, the school received national media attention, including from NPR, celebrating its achievement.

But all the excitement and accomplishment couldn’t shake one question from Butcher’s mind:

How did all these students graduate from high school?

“You saw kids walking across the stage, who, they’re nice young people, but they don’t deserve to be walking across the stage,” Butcher said.

Butcher’s concerns were not unwarranted.

An investigation by WAMU and NPR has found that Ballou High School’s administration graduated dozens of students despite high rates of unexcused absences. WAMU and NPR reviewed hundreds of pages of Ballou’s attendance records, class rosters and emails after a DCPS employee shared the private documents. The documents showed that half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year, unexcused. One in five students was absent more than present — missing more than 90 days of school.

According to DCPS policy, if a student misses a class 30 times, he should fail that course. Research shows that missing 10 percent of school, about two days per month, can negatively affect test scores, reduce academic growth and increase the chances a student will drop out.

When many of these students did attend school, they struggled academically.

“I’ve never seen kids in the 12th grade that couldn’t read and write,” said Butcher, who has more than two decades of teaching experience in low-performing schools from New York City to Florida. But he saw students like that at Ballou — and it wasn’t just one or two.

Another internal email obtained by WAMU and NPR from April shows that two months before graduation, only 57 students were on track to graduate, with dozens of students missing graduation requirements, community service requirements or failing classes needed to graduate. In June, 164 students received diplomas.

“It was smoke and mirrors. That is what it was,” Butcher said.

A pressure to pass students

WAMU and NPR talked to nearly a dozen current and recent Ballou teachers as well as four recent graduates who told the same story: teachers felt pressure from administration to pass chronically absent students, and students knew the school administration would do as much as possible to get them to graduation.

“It’s oppressive to the kids because you’re giving them a false sense of success,” said a current Ballou teacher who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her job.

Another current Ballou teacher, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “To not prepare them is not ethical.”

Morgan Williams, who taught health and physical education at Ballou last year, says the lack of expectations sets students up for future failure.

“If I knew I could skip the whole semester and still pass, why would I try?” Williams said. “They’re not prepared to succeed.”

Williams taught physical education and health for two years at Ballou, which is a graduation requirement. She says her students were often chronically absent, but the gym was always full. Students skipping other classes would congregate there, she says, and her requests for help from administrators and behavioral staff to manage these students were often ignored.

Williams and other teachers interviewed for this story say they often had students on their rosters they barely knew because the students almost never attended class.

Near the end of a term, Williams says students would appear, asking for make-up work like worksheets or a project. She would refuse, saying that there are policies, and if students don’t meet the attendance policy, there’s nothing she could do to help them. Then, she says, an administrator would ask how she could help students pass.

At one point, while she was out on maternity leave, Williams says she received a call from a school official asking her to change a grade for a student she had previously failed.

“[They said]’Just give him a D,’ because they were trying to get him out of there and they knew he wouldn’t do the make-up packet,” Williams said.

Williams says she tried to push back, but she often had 20 to 30 kids in one class. Repeatedly having the same conversation about dozens of students was exhausting. The school also required extensive improvement plans if teachers did fail students, which was an additional burden for a lot of already strained teachers.

Many teachers interviewed say they also were encouraged to follow another policy: give absent or struggling students a 50 percent on assignments they missed or didn’t complete instead of a zero. The argument was, if the student tried to make up the work they missed or failed, it would likely be impossible to pass with a zero on the books. Teachers say that even if students earn less than than 50 percent on an assignment, 50 percent is still the lowest grade a student can receive.

During the last term of senior year, some seniors who weren’t on track to graduate were placed in an accelerated version of the classes they were failing. Those classes, known as credit recovery, were held for a few weeks after school. DCPS policy says students should only take credit recovery once they receive a final failing grade for a course. At Ballou, however, students who were on track to fail were placed in these classes before they should have been allowed. Teachers say this was done to graduate kids. On paper, these students were taking the same class twice — sometimes with two different teachers.

Credit recovery is increasingly used to prevent students from dropping out, but critics argue that credit recovery courses rarely have the same educational value as the original course and are often less rigorous. At Ballou, teachers said, the credit recovery content was not intensive and students rarely showed up for credit recovery classes. According to class rosters, 13 percent of Ballou graduates were enrolled in the same class twice during the last term before graduation. Often, teachers were not alerted that their students were taking credit recovery, and many said they didn’t realize what was happening until they saw students they flunked graduate.

If teachers pushed back against these practices, they say the administration retaliated against them by giving them poor teacher evaluations. Last year, DCPS put school administrators entirely in control of teacher evaluations, including classroom observations, instead of involving a third party. Many teachers said they believe this change gives too much power to administrators. A low evaluation rating two years in a row is grounds for dismissal. Just one bad rating can make it tough to find another job. Teachers said that if they questioned the administration, they were painted as “haters” who don’t care about students.

“If they don’t like you, they’ll just let you go,” said Monica Brokenborough, who taught music at Ballou last year.

She also served as the teacher’s union building representative. The building representative is responsible for handling teacher grievances and ensuring that the school follows the DCPS teacher contract, among other duties. Last year, 26 grievances were filed by teachers at Ballou.

Said one teacher who asked for anonymity to protect her job: “Either you want your professional career on paper to look like you don’t know what you’re doing, or you just skate by, play by the game.”

Playing by the game can have financial benefits. If an evaluation score is high enough to reach the “highly effective” status, teachers and administrators can receive $15,000 to $30,000 in bonuses. D.C. Public Schools wouldn’t disclose which teachers received bonuses, but teachers interviewed said the possibility of such a large bonus increases the pressure on teachers to improve student numbers.

Butcher, Brokenborough and Williams no longer work at Ballou. They received low teacher evaluations after the 2016-17 school year ended and were let go for various reasons. They believe they were unfairly targeted and have filed complaints through the local teachers union. Butcher and Williams found new teaching jobs outside D.C.; Brokenborough is waiting to resolve her grievance with DCPS.

Who is responsible?

Ballou Principal Yetunde Reeves refused to be interviewed for this story, but D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson and Jane Spence, the DCPS Chief of Secondary Schools did.

“It is expected that our students will be here every day,” Spence said. “But we also know that students learn material in lots of different ways. So we’ve started to recognize that students can have mastered material even if they’re not sitting in a physical space.”

At the same time, DCPS is publicly pushing the importance of daily attendance with a citywide initiative called “Every Day Counts!” City leaders have made improving attendance a priority, strengthening its reporting policies to improve accuracy. To be considered in school, students have to be there 80 percent of the day. If they are absent, parents have five days to submit proof of an excused absence, such as a doctor’s note.

Wilson says schools can’t ignore what’s going on in the lives of students. Many students are managing effects of trauma, family responsibilities, a job and, sometimes, all of the above. That can make it extra hard to show up to school every day. Federal data released in October found that 47 percent of DCPS students have experienced some kind of traumatic event.

So how did all these kids miss so many days of school, apply to college and still graduate? When pressed on this question, Chancellor Wilson and Deputy Spence abruptly ended the interview.

After WAMU and NPR reached out to the D.C. mayor’s office for comment, the chancellor and Spence made themselves available for another interview. Ultimately, they stand behind the school’s decision to graduate these students despite missing so much school.

When it comes to DCPS’s grading policy, system leaders are quick to differentiate between a student who is absent from a particular class and a student who misses the full day.

“It is possible for a student to have 30 days when they are absent from school, but that doesn’t constitute 30 days of absences from the course,” Spence said. Still, she says high absenteeism is unacceptable and there’s room for growth.

“Our students need to get here every day and we continue to ask our community and our families to partner with us to get students to school every day,” Spence said.

Spence emphasized that many students are managing real issues that prevent them from getting to class, and that schools need to find other ways to help absent kids succeed. She and Wilson say these policies, such as the make-up work and after-school credit recovery classes, can be part of the solution — if they’re implemented with rigor.

Wilson admits this is not happening everywhere in the system.

“I think the issue we have to fix at several of our schools, just to make sure that kids don’t feel they can miss … however many weeks and come in at the end and say, ‘I’d love to get my make-up work,’ ” Wilson said.

D.C. Council member David Grosso, who chairs the city council’s education committee, said he was unaware that this many chronically absent students graduated from Ballou. The council has focused on improving attendance in city schools over the past few years. Grosso said he plans to follow up with district officials to determine how these students graduated.

Teacher Responses

Ballou teachers acknowledged that students might be facing issues that make it difficult for them to attend school, but some say the school district uses these students’ situations as a crutch to ignore larger unaddressed issues, like in-seat attendance and student behavior. In-seat attendance is the percentage of time a student is actually in class. When it comes to attendance, teachers say many students are in the building, but they just don’t go to class.

“The tardy bell is just a sound effect in that building,” said former choir teacher Monica Brokenborough. “It means nothing.”

Another current Ballou teacher said: “Kids roam the halls with impunity.”

Teachers say they are willing to help students who struggle to balance school and outside responsibilities like a job or childcare, but Brokenborough says some students just simply do not want to attend class and have come to expect make-up work. She says this puts teachers in a tough situation.

“Because if you don’t [give make-up work] and another teacher does, it makes you look like the bad guy,” she said.

Many students have figured out they don’t have to show up everyday.

“These students are smart enough to see enough what goes on,” Brokenborough said. “They go ‘Oh, I ain’t gotta do no work in your class, I can just go over here do a little Powerpoint, pass and graduate.’ Again this isn’t about the teachers. What is that doing to that child? That’s setting that kid up for failure just so you can showboat you got this graduation rate.”

DCPS leaders, including Chancellor Wilson, defend the use of make-up work, arguing they want to give students “multiple opportunities” to show they understand material. The teachers interviewed, however, said they feel the system ultimately reduces academic rigor, serving no one in the end. When these students leave Ballou and go off to college or the workplace, teachers feel they aren’t prepared to work hard.

One current teacher says that as a black teacher teaching predominantly black students, graduating these students is an injustice.

“This is [the] biggest way to keep a community down. To graduate students who aren’t qualified, send them off to college unprepared, so they return to the community to continue the cycle,” the teacher said.

“I came to school when I wanted to.”

Four recent Ballou graduates spoke about their experiences at the school on the condition of anonymity. Three are in college now, including one student who was absent about half the school year.

“I came to school when I wanted to,” said the student, who currently is attending a local four-year university. “I didn’t have to be there, I didn’t want to be there.”

Senior year wasn’t easy for her. She says she wasn’t living at home anymore, and was working at a fast food restaurant to pay rent. That need for an income made school even less appealing.

“I felt at a point around getting toward winter, I ain’t have be there no more,” she said. “I felt like I graduated at that point.”

While she says she got calls and letters from the school about her absences, she wouldn’t show up until they threatened to send her to court for truancy.

“That’s when I was like, ‘Oh, let me go to school,'” she said.

In D.C., students who miss 15 or more days of school without an excuse are supposed to be referred to court services. Last year, Ballou sent 25 seniors to court services for truancy, but according to documents obtained, all but 11 of the 163 graduates should have had court services alerted about their absenteeism.

“Even then, you learn to work the system,” the student said. When the school would threaten truancy court, she says she’d show up for a few hours, do her classwork and leave. She believes it shouldn’t matter if she showed up to class as long as she completed her work. Plus, she says she knew no matter how much school she missed, she wouldn’t fail.

“The thing was, they couldn’t do that to me, and they knew that I knew that,” she said.

According to a Washington Post article in May of this year, 21 teachers, more than a quarter of Ballou’s teaching staff left during last school year, the most teacher resignations of any DCPS high school during the 2016-2017 school year. That included one of this graduate’s teachers — her math teacher left halfway through the year and a substitute took over. After that, she says, she had even less motivation to show up to class.

“What am I going to keep showing up to this for a substitute for? He ain’t gonna teach nothing,” she said.

Another Ballou graduate also says teacher turnover was the biggest problem at the school. Often, teachers would leave without a back-up teacher or substitute in place. He says many substitutes didn’t know how to teach the content, and students lost interest in learning.

“I’m not going to say I always went to class or I was always a good student because I wasn’t,” he said, but he took honors courses and wanted to be at school. He now attends a four-year university outside the Washington area. He knew college would be hard, and he even enrolled in a summer program at his college designed to help low-income, underrepresented students prepare for their first semester. But when he got to college, he said: “I had reality slapped in the face.”

Both students say they are struggling in their college math classes.

With so many teacher vacancies last year, teachers say they don’t understand how some students passed classes they needed to graduate. Additionally, many of the students who were in those classrooms were struggling academically. Last year, 9 percent of students at Ballou passed the English part of the D.C. standardized test known as PARCC. No one passed the math section. The average SAT score last year among Ballou test-takers was 782 out of 1600.

“The elephant in the room is how these kids are getting through middle school and getting through high school,” said a current Ballou teacher speaking anonymously. “That’s passing the buck and totally unacceptable, especially from a leadership standpoint.”

When it came time to apply to college, teachers and students say most Ballou seniors applied to the local community college, part of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Students say many classmates felt that they weren’t ready for a four-year school. Originally, Ballou administration said that students led the initiative to get the entire senior class to apply. But many teachers and some students said students were forced to apply to college. Many were pulled out of class to fill out applications, and they say the administration would tell students they couldn’t participate in after-school events or field trips if they did not apply to college. But some students, including those interviewed for this story, say many students were excited about the college application process.

DCPS won’t know how many Ballou graduates enrolled in college overall until May, a spokesperson says. We know of 183 students accepted to the UDC, but only 16 enrolled this fall.

As the first semester of freshman year winds down, both graduates quoted say they’re trying to stick with it.

“Everybody say you’re supposed to go to college for yourself, but I went to college for my family,” said the Ballou graduate who is attending college locally. “I didn’t go ’cause I wanted to. I don’t want to. I could care less. But I am going to go ahead and do what I have to do because nothing feels better than going home to your family who look up to you. I got parents who look up to me.”

She says she doesn’t feel she was prepared for college, although she places some of that blame on herself.

Teachers at Ballou say pushing kids to see a future for themselves and to work toward that future is valuable. But encouraging them to pursue a future they’re not prepared for and sending them off without skills is irresponsible. Instead, they say the school and school system need to better prepare students for the hurdles they’ll face when they get to college, and better hold students accountable when they don’t meet the requirements.

Seven months from now, Ballou High School will celebrate another graduating class. The current senior class is also working towards a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

WAMU education coverage is supported in part by American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Highlord Laan » 2017-12-05 06:10pm

"It's the teachers union's fault!!!!!111111!!!111"

-standard right wing screeching.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by MKSheppard » 2017-12-05 08:46pm

NPR is right wing?
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-05 09:01pm

No, but then, NPR didn't blame it on the teacher's union. The union is mentioned about twice in the article, and in neither case are any of the problems being blamed on it. From the sound of it, this is mainly coming from administration. Obviously a lot of the individual teachers are complicit, but then, they're also being subjected to coercion and threatened with firing if they step out of line by flunking students who don't show up or don't do the work.

A stronger teacher's union would almost certainly make this situation better rather than worse, because the administration's ability to justify rapidly firing disobedient teachers on the pretext of bad evaluations appears to be a core element of the process.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by mr friendly guy » 2017-12-05 10:39pm

It's a tough situation. If we don't give these kids an education (it's mentioned some could not read or write adequately), society or at least their social group (African Americans) suffer. However some of these kids just did not want to be there( I am not talking about the kids that have to work because they aren't living at home anymore). What are the chances that these kids are just going to disrupt the class for those that want to learn, and that obviously isn't fair.

It's tempting to say well if you don't want to learn then you can deal with the consequences if your actions, but said consequences also continue to the next generation due to poverty.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-06 12:21am

There are ways to address this. The problem is that it is stupidly expensive. Very manpower-intensive, and running a school is overwhelmingly about labor expenses. Urban school districts generally don't have that kind of money, and even if they did, they'd have conservatives scoffing at them and saying "Wow, you're spending twenty thousand per pupil per year or whatever, when our lily-white middle-class suburban districts can produce better outcomes for half that! What kind of fucked up bureaucracy are you running? Let's neuter the teacher's union and get rid of some of these silly special programs, those kids just need some old-fashioned grit and discipline!"

Then they brag about how charter schools and vouchers can produce better outcomes than the public schools in that situation... while leaving out the part where charter schools can kick out unsuitable kids. This is critical. It's very easy to run a cheap school with large classes and less-than-amazing teachers if all your students are well behaved, disciplined kids who do their homework. But the same school with the same teachers and class sizes will turn into Lord of the Flies if you mix in students whose discipline and behavior are mediocre, and other "students" who are in fact violent punks with delusions of thughood and have no ability to bring anything into the classroom except disruption, violence, and probably drugs.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-06 09:40pm

A recent audit was done on my school district for reasons similar to those cited in the original post.

I noted with certain glee that the nastiest thing the audit could find on my school was failure to keep up with 1950s-vintage record-keeping practices: "I'm sorry, we forgot to send copies of our punch-cards to the county microfilm archives because we were too busy tracking the graduating seniors' graduation requirements on Excel spreadsheets." And "I'm sorry, when the district itself told us to do like 200 grade changes because of students completing work for a district program, you forgot to tell us we had to submit paperwork to the district telling it we'd done the grade changes they themselves requested."

Not ONE child from the graduating classes they audited crossed the stage without their i's dotted, their t's crossed, and graduation requirements met.

Officially, administration never pressures teachers to do grade changes. Anecdotally, the official story is in fact true as far as I am aware.

[smirks triumphally]

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-03-01 08:32pm

Continuing this

Link
Fewer high school seniors in the District are expected to receive diplomas in June than in the year before, a sharp reversal for a school system that had celebrated a 20-point increase in its graduation rate since 2011.

Data released Thursday by D.C. Public Schools shows that 42 percent of seniors attending traditional public schools are on track to graduate, while 19 percent are considered “moderately off-track,” meaning they could still earn enough credits for a diploma.

The likely drop in the graduation rate is the latest fallout from an investigation that cast doubt on the validity of diplomas awarded last year. The graduation rate in 2017 was 73 percent, but the probe revealed that one in three graduates received their diplomas in violation of city policy. Those students had walked across graduation stages despite missing too many classes or improperly taking makeup classes.

Even if all of the students regarded as “moderately off-track” receive diplomas, the graduation rate would stand at about 61 percent — 12 points below last year’s.

D.C. graduation rates reflect the percentage of students who receive their diplomas in four years. Twenty-six percent of students who started their freshman year with the class of 2018 have withdrawn or transferred out of the system. The city still needs to determine how many are in each category.

After the investigation into the 2017 graduation rate, the school system promised to stringently enforce long-ignored attendance policies, which state that students should fail a class if they are absent more than 30 times in a school year.

The report portrayed a systemic culture in which teachers felt pressured to award diplomas even if teens failed to meet requirements, all in the name of improving graduation rates.

This is the first year the city has released graduation data months before diplomas are awarded, so it is unclear how the numbers compare to previous years.

For Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), the rates came as no surprise.

She said in an interview Thursday she had expected the decline after the city-commissioned investigation.

“We should have all expected it,” Bowser said. “These are the truest numbers we’ve had related to grades, attendance and graduation.”

Council member David Grosso (I-At Large), who chairs the Education Committee, said the midyear data allows the city to understand how much work needs to be done.

“It’s bad news that there are so many kids struggling,” he said, “but it’s good news that we are being honest about it, and I think there’s some value to that.”

The figures show that a majority of seniors at many comprehensive high schools are not on track to graduate.

At Anacostia High, the school with the smallest percentage, only 19 percent of seniors have passed or are passing the classes required to receive their diplomas.

Twenty-five percent are considered “moderately off-track,” meaning they are failing one or two courses but can earn credits through summer school or credit-recovery programs.

At Ballou High — the school at the epicenter of the district’s graduation scandal — 27 percent of seniors are on track to graduate.

Wilson, the city’s highest-performing comprehensive high school, has 56 percent of students on track to receive their diplomas.

The District’s magnet and application schools show much higher expected graduation rates. At Banneker High, 82 percent of students are passing or have passed all courses required for graduation.

The school system also released data Thursday showing the status of students’ attendance records about three months before graduation.

At Ballou, 14 percent of seniors already have accrued 30 absences in a class, which automatically earns a failing grade — the highest rate of any comprehensive high school. At Anacostia, that figure is 13 percent. These students won’t be able to graduate by the end of the school year.

Nearly every senior at the two schools, according to the data, has met with a counselor or administrator, and most parents have met with a school employee about their children’s graduation status.

Bowser said Thursday that while District schools have burnished their academic and extracurricular programs, students need to show up to reap the benefits — something that is not happening.

Across the District’s high schools, 18 percent of seniors accrued more than 10 absences in a single course during the second quarter, earning them failing grades. Nine percent of seniors have more than 30 absences.

The school system said it released the data to be transparent.

“We want to make sure that every graduate going forward has truly earned their diploma,” said Michelle Lerner, a spokeswoman for the school system. “We’re focused on making sure that the students who have graduated have earned their diploma and the community feels that way as well.”
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Esquire » 2018-03-02 03:09pm

Wait, you mean if we apply massive pressure to a chronically-underfunded system to improve one all-encompassing statistic, it'll stop accurately reflecting what it was supposed to originally? Shocking! Shocking, I say!
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Wild Zontargs » 2018-03-02 10:28pm

Esquire wrote:
2018-03-02 03:09pm
Wait, you mean if we apply massive pressure to a chronically-underfunded system to improve one all-encompassing statistic, it'll stop accurately reflecting what it was supposed to originally? Shocking! Shocking, I say!
Objection: even in inflation-adjusted dollars, education funding has been going up, but outcomes have been flat.

Image

Before you shoot the messenger (Cato), even if you challenge the exact funding increase, the trend still stands
The inflation-adjusted figure Brat uses to describe what he sees as runaway federal spending on education over 30 years is overblown. You can only get near a 375 percent increase if you start in 1970 and end in 2010, when U.S. school funding was nearly doubled with stimulus money and stood at an all-time high of $73.3 billion.

Uncle Sam spent $40.8 billion on public schools last year. When you divide that by enrollment, it comes to $816 a student. Adjusted for inflation, that’s a 117 percent increase in federal spending per student over 30 years ago.

That said, the increase in per-student spending is still significant and Brat has valid point on the test results. Average NAEP scores for 17-year-olds have barely budged during the last 30 years of testing.

So we rate the totality of Brat’s statement Mostly True.
If you say "but that's a national average, what about DC", DC's per-student funding was nearly twice the national average and ranked #3 in spending per student in 2015.

Increased funding isn't a solution on its own, or things would have improved by now. There's something else wrong (and no, I'm not an expert on what it is).
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2018-03-02 11:34pm

One issue you have to consider is, like with higher education, administration and other costs are going up, while things like teacher's salaries and spending on classroom materials etc have staid stagnant or gone dropped. The funding model for education is also pretty bad across the board. Talking about national stats or even city level stats is useless, because schools are funded using catchment area level property taxes. So while DC might have very well funded schools overall, that just means that the wealthy neighborhoods have REALLY nice schools, but the poor areas still have shit.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Bedlam » 2018-03-03 04:16am

I would query from that graph if the scores each year are in fact directly comparable, what is being taught changes each year particularly in Science and maybe maths (not sure about reading). If you took a student from 2006 and made them sit the 1970 test would they actually get exactly the same score or would an average score for 2006 but a high score for 1970?

Another factor would be if the scores are in fact graded against the rest of the class in which case regardless of how much money you pump into a system if everyone in a class are getting about the same attention the overall distribution would be the same i.e. the majority sit around the average with fewer and fewer outliers in either direction as you get further from the average.

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Esquire » 2018-03-03 03:38pm

Firstly, everything Alyrium said.

Secondly, and obviously: increased spending =/= adequate spending. Especially in a case where some of the underlying assumptions of comparing aggregate expenditure across time this way - i.e. that nothing weird has happened between the start and end of the graph period which might affect what counts as 'adequate spending' - are quite clearly violated; see, e.g., here. Also physical infrastructure (school buildings, etc.) is literally falling apart in many places and teachers routinely spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets on basic school supplies. I don't know what's going on either, but an excess of cash is clearly not it.

An alternative formulation: since scores - themselves at best a poor proxy measure for the things we actually care about, do please recall - have held steady while costs increased wildly and quality of life/work/education/life outcomes decreased on a whole slew of measures, that graph tells us that spending hasn't increased anywhere near fast enough.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-03-04 01:29am

Esquire, there's a valid point to be made that we as a society cannot afford to spend infinity dollars on education, so at some point we have to ask "which ways of spending our finite pool of education dollars are, or are not, worth it?"

At one extreme, it's probably worth paying elementary school teachers to teach six and seven-year-old children to read. Or high school social studies teachers to teach basic civics to the average student so they know why Donald Trump isn't supposed to be able to ask the army to swear loyalty oaths to him personally or something. Or high school math teachers to provide AP Computer Science to budding IT nerds.

At the other extreme, it's probably NOT worth paying a full-time paraprofessional to follow around a functionally illiterate and severely mentally disabled student, leading him from class to class in which he predictably blows up at his teachers whenever they tell him to do anything, in a semi-futile attempt to stop him from dealing drugs to other students in his high school, where he remains on account of school bureaucracy making it take well over a year to finally get the kid expelled despite him committing multiple criminal offenses in the interim. That money could probably have been better spent to pay the paraprofessional to do something else if Dumbo the Junior Drug Dealer were out of the picture. Or on something else entirely.
Wild Zontargs wrote:
2018-03-02 10:28pm
Esquire wrote:
2018-03-02 03:09pm
Wait, you mean if we apply massive pressure to a chronically-underfunded system to improve one all-encompassing statistic, it'll stop accurately reflecting what it was supposed to originally? Shocking! Shocking, I say!
Objection: even in inflation-adjusted dollars, education funding has been going up, but outcomes have been flat.
Well, where do you think the money's going? Teacher salaries are flat relative to inflation. School supplies and buildings are not, on the whole, vastly more expensive than they used to be except the category of computers.

My working hypotheses are:

1) A lot of money goes into adding computers whose benefits are largely canceled out by the students' being chronically distracted by cell phones. Technology has given unto education with one hand, and taken away with the other.

2) A lot of money goes into efforts to teach a relatively narrow slice of the student body, including both special education and students with severe behavioral problems (who may or may not be SPED). Some of these students (mainly the SPED ones without serious behavior problems) can be taught relatively efficiently with accomodations to teaching style, but others simply cannot. This results in:
2a) Direct increased manpower requirements due to more paraprofessionals, co-taught classes, and very small intensive sections,
2b) More disciplinary problems indirectly making larger class sizes unsustainable due to disciplinary issues, forcing schools to hire more teachers overall, and
2c) Decreased focus on the median student and decreased "learn or flunk out of school" pressure, resulting in a fixed man-hours-per-student investment of teacher labor resulting in less benefit in educational achievement for the average student, which in turn results in overall test scores staying flat even as the bottom quartile does vastly better.

3) Related to (2), district-level bureaucracy has expanded considerably in a lot of school districts. More effort goes into training and ensuring compliance, and a lot of the training and compliance is measuring how teachers perform in terms of fads that either mean nothing or just restate basic principles the profession has known about for fifty years. Furthermore, this consumes a teacher's time and energy, meaning that a fixed number of man-hours of teacher labor are 'diluted' and, again, result in less educational attainment. SOME of the training and bureaucratic oversight/support is useful, but not all.

4) Standardized testing has become a veritable industry, and private corporations can easily skim hundreds of dollars per student per year to administer standardized tests, many of which are at least partially redundant or serve no purpose that wouldn't be better served by a simpler testing regimen.
Before you shoot the messenger (Cato), even if you challenge the exact funding increase, the trend still stands
The inflation-adjusted figure Brat uses to describe what he sees as runaway federal spending on education over 30 years is overblown. You can only get near a 375 percent increase if you start in 1970 and end in 2010, when U.S. school funding was nearly doubled with stimulus money and stood at an all-time high of $73.3 billion.

Uncle Sam spent $40.8 billion on public schools last year. When you divide that by enrollment, it comes to $816 a student. Adjusted for inflation, that’s a 117 percent increase in federal spending per student over 30 years ago.
Federal spending per student is pocket change compared to total spending on education. A lot of that federal money is going to schools that would otherwise be even more uncompetitive, flailing helplessly to meet increased student needs on a decreasing budget.

So is the problem in your eyes that America is spending too much on K-12 education for too little result? Or that the federal government, specifically is spending too much? The former is an issue we can talk about. The latter is a non-issue, because it basically comes down to which of the three totally different layers of our government handles the money. There's no obvious reason all the money should be handled at the local level, since the main effect of that is to perpetuate economic divisions between counties and school districts that are at best very dubiously in the national interest.
If you say "but that's a national average, what about DC", DC's per-student funding was nearly twice the national average and ranked #3 in spending per student in 2015.
What do you think the money's being spent on, by the way? This is not a trick question.
Bedlam wrote:
2018-03-03 04:16am
I would query from that graph if the scores each year are in fact directly comparable, what is being taught changes each year particularly in Science and maybe maths (not sure about reading). If you took a student from 2006 and made them sit the 1970 test would they actually get exactly the same score or would an average score for 2006 but a high score for 1970?
I think with the NAEP, at least, they're making a good faith effort to normalize for that and ask broadly the same difficulty of questions every year.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Wild Zontargs » 2018-03-04 09:48am

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-03-04 01:29am
What do you think the money's being spent on, by the way? This is not a trick question.
OK, as a sanity check, I've skimmed down to the end of your post before reading it, and I'm answering this bit first:

You're probably spending a good chunk on what would be classified as "bureaucratic inefficiency". A good chunk is probably going to standardized test compliance. Some more on whatever magical computerwhatsit and matching software is in vogue. I'm not sure what the cost breakdown is on busing to centralized schools vs overhead for smaller schools, but I can't imagine the tradeoff is beneficial to students.

Influenced by this guy, probably a good chunk on "edge case" students: special education, behavioral issues, ELL issues (depending on demographics), etc.

Not a lot is going into "pay the teachers more". Inflation-adjusted pay is stagnant.

(In case it wasn't clear, I don't support "cut funding back to '70s levels and leave everything else alone". I also don't think teachers shouldn't be well-paid. However, teacher quality only seems to account for 5-20% of student outcomes, so going to the opposite extreme would hit diminishing returns very quickly.)

*reads*

OK, looks like a fairly good overlap with yours.
So is the problem in your eyes that America is spending too much on K-12 education for too little result? Or that the federal government, specifically is spending too much?
The former. If the spending isn't resulting in better student outcomes, throwing more money at the problem doesn't help anything. My take is "the specific way you're using the money doesn't work, so change the spending instead of just dumping more into a hole in the ground." I don't know what solves this problem.

I know several things that solve half of the problem, but only in isolation. Private schools can cut bureaucratic waste, but only because they're an alternative to the main way of doing things, have a profit motive to do better, and don't have the various levels of government lining up to hand out money. The US college system and healthcare system suggest that, if you privatized all schools, costs would run out of control in short order.

Private schools can have better average outcomes and better dollar-per-GPA ratios, but that's because they can be selective. If they had to retain students with behavioral issues, special needs, etc. they'd probably have the same average outcomes as public schools.

I have a nasty suspicion that most of the stagnating outcomes is because schools have already done all they can. Some students have issues which are outside the scope of what the educational system is able to correct, be they socioeconomic, behavioral, deficits in raw ability, whatever. If that's the case, the best thing schools can do is to educate each student up to the limit of that student's ability, prevent Student A from interfering with Student B's education by sorting classes by {ability, behavior, special needs, etc}, and not throw money at the schools beyond that limit. The "we can't employ that many ditch-diggers, we need rocket surgeons and AI psychologists" issue is beyond their scope of influence, and we shouldn't be expecting them to solve that problem. Any demographic differences between categories of student are an unfortunate political issue, but hamstringing the schools by removing the categories doesn't actually solve anything. Solve the non-school problems using a non-school department. (No, I don't have all the answers. Insert UBI debate here.)
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Bedlam » 2018-03-04 10:17am

Bedlam wrote:
2018-03-03 04:16am
I would query from that graph if the scores each year are in fact directly comparable, what is being taught changes each year particularly in Science and maybe maths (not sure about reading). If you took a student from 2006 and made them sit the 1970 test would they actually get exactly the same score or would an average score for 2006 but a high score for 1970?
I think with the NAEP, at least, they're making a good faith effort to normalize for that and ask broadly the same difficulty of questions every year.[/quote]

From this what is the same difficulty? If back in the 70s the test was devised so that 10% of the class would get 100% scores and about half would get 60% and todays test was set with the same difficulty, then of course there would be no difference in the score. Unless the current class is actually sitting the 1970's test its hard on that scale to say if current classes are better educated or not.

Something similar would be the Flinn effect on IQ tests, scores go up by about 3 points per decade so to keep the average at 100 the overall scoring system is reworked every so often. So going by that the average student now would have am IQ of about 115 by 1970 measurements putting them in about the top 20% so you would expect them to be getting better scores in tests.

I'm not arguing that edicational standards haven't necessarily decreased, just that the graph showing absolutely no change over the last 40 years may not be strickly accurate.

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-03-04 02:01pm

Bedlam wrote:
2018-03-04 10:17am
From this what is the same difficulty? If back in the 70s the test was devised so that 10% of the class would get 100% scores and about half would get 60% and todays test was set with the same difficulty, then of course there would be no difference in the score. Unless the current class is actually sitting the 1970's test its hard on that scale to say if current classes are better educated or not.
I mean that I THINK the test is designed to preserve constant difficulty in absolute terms, not relative terms. Though it'd certainly be an amusing little blockbuster if it turned out that the NAEP does the same thing the IQ test does to renormalize and keep scores constant over time; I've had trouble getting confirmation on that one way or the other.

Wild Zontargs wrote:
2018-03-04 09:48am
OK, as a sanity check, I've skimmed down to the end of your post before reading it, and I'm answering this bit first:

You're probably spending a good chunk on what would be classified as "bureaucratic inefficiency". A good chunk is probably going to standardized test compliance. Some more on whatever magical computerwhatsit and matching software is in vogue. I'm not sure what the cost breakdown is on busing to centralized schools vs overhead for smaller schools, but I can't imagine the tradeoff is beneficial to students.
Depends on the district. Tiny schools have major drawbacks; they cannot offer a meaningful selection of electives (for scheduling reasons as much as anything else), and buses don't cost THAT much to run on a day to day basis. Plus, a fair amount of busing and transportation of students would still be needed in any event, and you really, REALLY don't save very much money by just having buses that don't drive as far when you still need to load half the kids in the county onto buses anyway.
Influenced by this guy, probably a good chunk on "edge case" students: special education, behavioral issues, ELL issues (depending on demographics), etc.
That one knows less than they think.

IDEA is problematic because of a failure to properly define "least restrictive environment" to include practical limitations on what schools can and cannot do. Needs reinterpretation, not abolition.

Educating noncitizens isn't the problem because it doesn't explain why costs are rising per pupil, and most of them are no more or less competent than the students we already have. The only reason to refuse teach them is if we expect to deport them all, which is asinine for reasons that have little to do with education policy and also wildly at odds with the de facto policy of the state even under the Trump administration, which still wants the business benefits of cheap immigrant labor without the 'cost' of seeing brown people with accents on the streets. It may cost more to teach students who speak limited English for the first few years, but it's a good investment on average IF you're not just planning to deport all those kids who grew up in the US because their parents are 'criminals' for having shown up and worked for Americans for ten years under terms indistinguishable from what many of our ancestors worked for after passing through Ellis Island a century and a half ago.

ELL mandates aren't the problem, though they might certainly need to be implemented better in cases like the one being discussed (wherein students who are fluent in spoken English are being classed as ELL because they read and write poorly on tests, a problem that quite a few non-ELL students share).

The two useful suggestions there basically boil down to "reinstate tracking and remedial classes," with which I agree. The community college across the street from where I work isn't too proud to offer pre-algebra classes to students who need them; why should I be?

...

That said- In general, spending on ELL and certain kinds of SPED pays off bigtime, in my opinion. I'm equally certain that spending on behavioral issues doesn't, not unless you put the students in question in a totally different environment that is radically different from the ordinary general high schools in which they misbehave.

Part of the problem is that the schools are being used as a very, very inefficient mechanism for identifying students with psychiatric and developmental disorders the hard way. I think a lot of the trouble could be avoided if we had the kind of society where psychiatric screenings were ubiquitous and therapy and medical treatment for troubled youths was the norm. Unfortunately we are a hell of a long way from that and much of the political spectrum would sneer at us doing that as "wasting money on ne'er-do-wells" or something like that.
(In case it wasn't clear, I don't support "cut funding back to '70s levels and leave everything else alone". I also don't think teachers shouldn't be well-paid. However, teacher quality only seems to account for 5-20% of student outcomes, so going to the opposite extreme would hit diminishing returns very quickly.)
That's because we already try pretty hard to weed out the genuinely incompetent teachers- and yes someone can come up with anecdotes to the contrary of "my eighth grade science teacher was a moron and nobody weeded THEM out," but the plural of anecdote is not 'data.'

When we say "teacher quality only seems to account for 5-20% of student outcomes," we're comparing the best available teachers who are still employed in significant numbers to the worst available ones. Teachers who, through greater skill, were able to pack their bags and head to another district with better pay and benefits are not counted. Conversely, teachers whose skills aren't providing that extra 5-20% get canned or, just as likely, find the profession so frustrating and aversive that they leave altogether, possibly before setting foot inside a classroom more than a handful of times.

It's a bit like the college psych professor who was amazed to find that his undergraduates all had an SAT score range between 1100 and 1300, with almost none above or below that line. Gee, wonder if there's a selection process built into that sampling procedure?

Spending a big pile of money on paying teachers better won't help much simply because the existing teachers are just about the best at their jobs that anyone in their position can reasonably be expected to be. There is no secret army of a million unemployed super-teachers waiting in the wings to take up the profession if only we could pay them ten thousand dollars more per year. Better pay for the districts that pay the least could do a lot to help with retention, which would help certain districts, but that would be a targeted decision made on a district-by-district basis.
*reads*

OK, looks like a fairly good overlap with yours.
Not really. At least half of their list boils down to "I think immigrants are the problem," and by and large they aren't, the problem is at most a local issue with specific districts that have large immigrant population and aren't handling it gracefully.

The useful half boils down to "reinstate tracking, and/or accept that high school is too hard for the roughly something like 30-40% of American students who cannot under any realistic circumstances be truly ready to enter college by their 18th birthday."
The former. If the spending isn't resulting in better student outcomes, throwing more money at the problem doesn't help anything. My take is "the specific way you're using the money doesn't work, so change the spending instead of just dumping more into a hole in the ground." I don't know what solves this problem.
In that case, talking about federal spending as an aggregate amount is a waste of time. The reason to complain about it is ideological (those who want a confederate policy rather than a federal one in American education), not practical ("we don't get enough bang for our buck").

By analogy, opposition to single-payer health care in the US is very explicitly about ideology ("keep the federal government out of my relationship with my doctor, my hospital, my insurer, and my bank") and not about cost (because every developed nation besides us has single-payer and all of them are paying dramatically less money than we do for comparable outcomes).

I'm not even saying you're wrong here, but you're citing evidence that doesn't support what you think it supports. Such evidence undermines your claim to be pragmatism-driven if you aren't willing to divest yourself of it.
I have a nasty suspicion that most of the stagnating outcomes is because schools have already done all they can. Some students have issues which are outside the scope of what the educational system is able to correct, be they socioeconomic, behavioral, deficits in raw ability, whatever. If that's the case, the best thing schools can do is to educate each student up to the limit of that student's ability, prevent Student A from interfering with Student B's education by sorting classes by {ability, behavior, special needs, etc}, and not throw money at the schools beyond that limit. The "we can't employ that many ditch-diggers, we need rocket surgeons and AI psychologists" issue is beyond their scope of influence, and we shouldn't be expecting them to solve that problem. Any demographic differences between categories of student are an unfortunate political issue, but hamstringing the schools by removing the categories doesn't actually solve anything. Solve the non-school problems using a non-school department. (No, I don't have all the answers. Insert UBI debate here.)
I think that in broad this is a healthy approach to the issue- just remember NOT to assume the problem is illegal immigrants or dyslexic kids or some other obvious target, and remember that better schools are in this context going to be largely a side-effect of winning other public policy battles.

For example, winning single-payer health care would do a lot to remedy poor children's untreated psychiatric disorders and reduce the risk of crippling brain problems. Just giving the kids a goddamn multivitamin every day would help! Insofar as we can't do that "because that would be statism" or something, we are kneecapping ourselves.

Similar arguments arise regarding universal basic income and desire to restrict welfare to 'really deserving' people or, in some cases, no people. As long as we give everyone a chance at an education, while adopting this weird "castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful" approach towards the children's home life, nutrition, and mental health... we are kneecapping ourselves.
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Bedlam » 2018-03-04 02:36pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-03-04 02:01pm
Spending a big pile of money on paying teachers better won't help much simply because the existing teachers are just about the best at their jobs that anyone in their position can reasonably be expected to be. There is no secret army of a million unemployed super-teachers waiting in the wings to take up the profession if only we could pay them ten thousand dollars more per year. Better pay for the districts that pay the least could do a lot to help with retention, which would help certain districts, but that would be a targeted decision made on a district-by-district basis.
I certainly wouldn't expect it to make a difference in the short term but I guess the 'invisible hand' style argument would be that a higher salary for teachers would attract a better class of people to train as teachers who would otherwise go on to be scientists or stock brokers or plumbers or something. Of course that relies on people being perfectly rational economic operators who base their life choices on wanting to maximise income and who know their own skills perfectly well. People who are scientists or plumbers might not make good teachers but there are some people who might make excellent teachers who were put off by the salary.

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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-03-04 03:04pm

Bedlam wrote:
2018-03-04 02:36pm
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-03-04 02:01pm
Spending a big pile of money on paying teachers better won't help much simply because the existing teachers are just about the best at their jobs that anyone in their position can reasonably be expected to be. There is no secret army of a million unemployed super-teachers waiting in the wings to take up the profession if only we could pay them ten thousand dollars more per year. Better pay for the districts that pay the least could do a lot to help with retention, which would help certain districts, but that would be a targeted decision made on a district-by-district basis.
I certainly wouldn't expect it to make a difference in the short term but I guess the 'invisible hand' style argument would be that a higher salary for teachers would attract a better class of people to train as teachers who would otherwise go on to be scientists or stock brokers or plumbers or something. Of course that relies on people being perfectly rational economic operators who base their life choices on wanting to maximise income and who know their own skills perfectly well. People who are scientists or plumbers might not make good teachers but there are some people who might make excellent teachers who were put off by the salary.
My gut feeling is... not a lot.

There are already a lot of people in the teaching profession who could almost certainly make more money by switching to another line of work, putting in the same amount of time and effort, and being equally willing to tolerate frustrating and degrading conditions. The nature of the profession is such that a large fraction of the population wouldn't do it for any reasonable sum of money, while another small fraction of the population would do it for free if they didn't have to worry about making money in order to live. There's a non-fungible quality in the pool of teacher candidates that makes them less than fully interchangeable with, say, potential plumbers or lawyers or IT workers.

You might be able to slide the average quality of the workforce around a little by moving the salary slider upwards, but I suspect you'd hit diminishing returns rapidly. You'd probably do better to just hire MORE teachers than to pay a higher salary for the same number of positions. This would make the existing teachers more effective and/or less overworked, probably contributing to higher retention of skilled individuals and allowing individuals of a fixed skill level to 'punch above their weight' more often.
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Alyrium Denryle
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Re: The continuing devaluation of education in the US

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2018-03-04 05:38pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-03-04 03:04pm
Bedlam wrote:
2018-03-04 02:36pm
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-03-04 02:01pm
Spending a big pile of money on paying teachers better won't help much simply because the existing teachers are just about the best at their jobs that anyone in their position can reasonably be expected to be. There is no secret army of a million unemployed super-teachers waiting in the wings to take up the profession if only we could pay them ten thousand dollars more per year. Better pay for the districts that pay the least could do a lot to help with retention, which would help certain districts, but that would be a targeted decision made on a district-by-district basis.
I certainly wouldn't expect it to make a difference in the short term but I guess the 'invisible hand' style argument would be that a higher salary for teachers would attract a better class of people to train as teachers who would otherwise go on to be scientists or stock brokers or plumbers or something. Of course that relies on people being perfectly rational economic operators who base their life choices on wanting to maximise income and who know their own skills perfectly well. People who are scientists or plumbers might not make good teachers but there are some people who might make excellent teachers who were put off by the salary.
My gut feeling is... not a lot.

There are already a lot of people in the teaching profession who could almost certainly make more money by switching to another line of work, putting in the same amount of time and effort, and being equally willing to tolerate frustrating and degrading conditions. The nature of the profession is such that a large fraction of the population wouldn't do it for any reasonable sum of money, while another small fraction of the population would do it for free if they didn't have to worry about making money in order to live. There's a non-fungible quality in the pool of teacher candidates that makes them less than fully interchangeable with, say, potential plumbers or lawyers or IT workers.

You might be able to slide the average quality of the workforce around a little by moving the salary slider upwards, but I suspect you'd hit diminishing returns rapidly. You'd probably do better to just hire MORE teachers than to pay a higher salary for the same number of positions. This would make the existing teachers more effective and/or less overworked, probably contributing to higher retention of skilled individuals and allowing individuals of a fixed skill level to 'punch above their weight' more often.
To springboard off this.

I couldn't do it. When it comes to the actual classroom teaching, I'm actually pretty good at it, provided I'm in a university environment where I don't have to deal with parents and can sometimes say things that might be inappropriate for high school kids (or perceived as such, anyway. Like swearing). When it comes to everything else? Not so much. I get by in most circumstances on pure affability, I don't have much in terms of ability to avoid putting my foot in my mouth, and I have a hard time recognizing distress in people I know well, let alone one of 150 kids over the course of the average day. So all the social-worker-esque things a teacher has to do? I'm gonna be next to useless.
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