Credit: Louis Freedberg/EdSource Today

Students work in a Santa Ana Unified classroom.

(This article has been updated with comment throughout.)

First-year scores on the new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards showed that 34 percent of California’s students met achievement targets in math, and 44 percent met achievement targets in English language arts.

The results, however, also revealed wide disparities in achievement among student groups, with 65 percent of English language learners, 46 percent of African-Americans, 41 percent of low-income students and 39 percent of Hispanic students scoring in the lowest of four achievement levels. This compared with 23 percent of white students and 12 percent of Asian students who scored in the lowest level.

The California Department of Education on Wednesday released the much-anticipated scores for the Smarter Balanced tests, the main component of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress system. Testing results, by district, school and student subgroups, can be found on the CAASPP website. Last spring, 3.2 million students in grades 3 to 8 and grade 11 took the tests.

Smarter Balanced assessments, which are given online, replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, tests, which were last given in 2013. State education officials have warned the public not to compare Smarter Balanced scores with earlier tests, which were based on different academic standards, had different names and numbers of achievement levels, were taken with paper and pencil and were mainly multiple choice.

The Smarter Balanced tests are also adaptive, meaning they change depending on how a student answers a question. If a student answers a question correctly, the next one will be more difficult. If a student answers incorrectly, the next question will be easier.

The new tests required students to explain some of their answers and to complete a complex multi-step task for both math and English language arts. Both tests and the Common Core standards are more rigorous than previous tests and standards, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in announcing the results. “The results show our starting point as a state, a window into where California students are in meeting tougher academic standards that emphasize critical thinking, problem solving and analytical writing,” he said.

Test results from 2003, the baseline year for students taking the STAR tests under the 1997 California academic standards, don’t appear to support Torlakson’s argument that the current tests are harder, however. More students met or exceeded the English language arts test this year than were proficient or advanced in 2003: 44 percent vs. 35 percent then.

State officials said the new scores will establish a baseline against which future results will be measured and are predicting that scores will improve in coming years as students become familiar with online tests and teachers become better trained in teaching the new standards. Parents will receive their children’s individual scores in the mail likely sometime this month. The state’s contractor, Educational Testing Service, has begun sending out individual paper reports to districts, which have 20 days to mail them to parents.

Phil Daro, who ran the California Mathematics Project for the University of California and had a hand in developing the Common Core math standards, joined those who cautioned against reading much into the first year math results. Scores drop whenever there is new content and new kinds of tests, he said. “We have a ways to go in improving instruction, materials and teachers’ knowledge of math,” he said. “Common Core may have been in the news for a while, but not for a while in many classrooms,” he said.

What worries Daro most is the potential impact on students who may have been excelling in math before only to get a low score on the Smarter Balanced test. “I am most afraid that parents will misinterpret the results. We don’t want parents to think kids are bad in math or for kids to get discouraged. That poses the biggest single danger in the shift (to the Common Core).”

Scores fall within one of four achievement levels tied to the Common Core: “standard not met,” “standard nearly met,” “standard met,” and “standard exceeded.” (See what each level means.) With a key exception, California’s overall scores closely followed what Smarter Balanced test developers predicted last fall when they set the achievement level scores, based on a 1,000-point scale. In grade 11, 56 percent of students met or exceeded the standard in English language arts; Smarter Balanced had projected 41 percent. Since most community colleges and the California State University system are using the “standard met” level as an indicator that students are on track for college, the high score awards a tangible benefit.

The Smarter Balanced Tests replaced the state’s Early Assessment Program, a set of tests that measured college readiness based on the previous state standards. About 456,000 juniors statewide took the Smarter Balanced tests in the spring.

About 23 percent of juniors reached Level 4 – standard exceeded – in English, meaning they have already demonstrated “knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers.” These students are now considered ready for college-level coursework and are exempt from having to take English or math placement tests after they gain admission to a California State University campus, or enroll in a state community college.

An additional 33 percent of juniors reached Level 3 – standard met. These students are classified as conditionally ready and will be encouraged to take an approved English or mathematics class in the senior year and earn a grade of C or higher to become exempt from placement tests.

Math was a different story, however, with only 29 percent of 11th graders meeting or exceeding the standard, the benchmark for college readiness, 45 percent not meeting the standard and 25 percent nearly meeting the standard.

These tests are “an important part of our collective success moving forward,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a written statement. “The test results signal the need for teachers, parents and local communities to work together to support students on their path to college and workforce success.”

More analysis is needed to determine if the disparity between performance on 11th grade math and English language arts tests reflected the quality of instruction, a comparably easier English language arts test or challenges in measuring high school math knowledge with one test for all students.

Smarter Balanced critics such as Doug McRae, a retired standardized testing expert, have questioned the methodology – and the lack of transparency in detailing it – that Smarter Balanced used in setting the scores determining the various achievement levels. Standard Balanced partly used results from a student field test of potential test questions last year to set the achievement levels, which McRae called unreliable and improper. The other consortium of states that developed Common Core-aligned tests, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, avoided this method.

Wide disparities

Nearly a quarter of the state’s students are English language learners. Although glossaries – and for Spanish speakers, translations – were available, Smarter Balanced demanded more writing and verbal reasoning skills than past standardized tests.

“If this is a baseline year, then a lot needs to happen,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, executive director of Californians Together, a nonprofit that advocates for English learners and low-income students. She called for a master plan for English learners to identify programs and resources that are effective – a recommendation that Torlakson supports. And she said the state also should do a study to see whether districts actually used the language accommodations for English learners to which they were entitled.

The combined scores for all grades tested reflected the challenges English learners faced in English language arts:

  • Standard not met: 65 percent
  • Standard nearly met: 24 percent
  • Standard met: 9 percent
  • Standard exceeded: 2 percent

The distribution was nearly the same in math.

For the 59 percent of students who are from low-income families, the results in math for all grades tested were:

  • Standard not met: 49 percent
  • Standard nearly met: 30 percent
  • Standard met: 15 percent
  • Standard exceeded: 6 percent

In English language arts, the scores were similar:

  • Standard not met: 41 percent
  • Standard nearly met: 28 percent
  • Standard met: 23 percent
  • Standard exceeded: 8 percent.

The scores were nearly opposite for Asian students on both tests. The results in English language arts for all grades tested were:

  • Standard not met: 12 percent
  • Standard nearly met: 16 percent
  • Standard met: 32 percent
  • Standard exceeded: 40 percent

The scores in math were:

  • Standard not met: 12 percent
  • Standard nearly met: 19 percent
  • Standard met: 25 percent
  • Standard exceeded: 44 percent

All subgroup results and scores by school and district can be found on the CAASPP website and in EdSource’s Smarter Balanced database. 

“The achievement gap is alarming,” said Debra Brown, associate director of education policy at Children Now, an Oakland-based education policy organization. “The silver lining is that Smarter Balanced provides a better measurement of what students know and will provide teachers with a deeper level of information to help them figure out how to change their teaching.

Girls scored significantly higher than boys in English language arts, with 59 percent of all girls tested scoring at or above standard, compared with 48 percent for boys. The gap started in 3rd grade and remained wide though grade 11. Differences in math scores between boys and girls were insignificant.

In some states, those opposed to standardized testing – or the Common Core in particular – encouraged parents to opt out of the Smarter Balanced tests. In Washington state, 11 percent of parents refused to permit their children to take the tests, including half of 11th graders. But in California, less than 1 percent of parents opted out.

The state Department of Education said it does not plan to rank schools by their Smarter Balanced scores or to create similar schools rankings, as it did with the Academic Performance Index. Two years ago, the state suspended the API, which assigned schools and districts a number between 200 and 1,000 based on how they performed on standardized tests.


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  1. Roxana Marachi 11 months ago11 months ago

    "What worries Daro most is the potential impact on students who may have been excelling in math before only to get a low score on the Smarter Balanced test. “I am most afraid that parents will misinterpret the results. We don’t want parents to think kids are bad in math or for kids to get discouraged. That poses the biggest single danger in the shift (to the Common Core).” Below is an Open Letter to the … Read More

    “What worries Daro most is the potential impact on students who may have been excelling in math before only to get a low score on the Smarter Balanced test. “I am most afraid that parents will misinterpret the results. We don’t want parents to think kids are bad in math or for kids to get discouraged. That poses the biggest single danger in the shift (to the Common Core).”

    Below is an Open Letter to the State Board of Education that addresses this issue precisely. The Critical Questions piece, linked within the letter also includes 10 questions posed to the Board of Education in July that have yet to be answered.

    The development/implementation processes of the standards/assessments have fundamentally ignored decades of research in educational psychology and human motivation. Look closely and you’ll see these colossal, glaring blind spots can most easily explain the botched rollouts of nearly every level of education reform. http://eduresearcher.com/2015/09/08/openletter/

  2. Don 11 months ago11 months ago

    John, what is going on with the test participation rates? I checked a few districts and they all seem to have exceedingly low rates, often in the single digits. Is this a reporting error or am I not reading it incorrectly? These numbers can’t be right. For example, only about 8% of African Americans took the test in SFUSD and the same in LAUSD, more or less.

  3. Jim Mordecai 11 months ago11 months ago

    This test affirms zip code enrollment associated with higher test scores. I disagree with the parent concluding that Vergara decision will change higher income enrollments getting higher standardized test scores. I've seen no data from charter schools, or from right to work states, that weakening teacher union seniority rights results in higher test scores. Assertion without facts is only a naked assertion. Fact is the zip codes of the students that … Read More

    This test affirms zip code enrollment associated with higher test scores. I disagree with the parent concluding that Vergara decision will change higher income enrollments getting higher standardized test scores. I’ve seen no data from charter schools, or from right to work states, that weakening teacher union seniority rights results in higher test scores. Assertion without facts is only a naked assertion. Fact is the zip codes of the students that are associated with differing test results. Why would giving administrators the power to end seniority if it hasn’t worked to increase test scores in existing situations were teachers have been at will employees?

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

      Data indicate the opposite — states with no or weak unions correlate with lower achievement, while the highest-achieving states have strong union laws.

  4. JMK 11 months ago11 months ago

    I think the reporters are missing a key piece of the story for juniors. As noted, 56% of juniors qualified at the "on track for college" standard (exceeds or meets) in English. That is significantly more than projected, yes. But it is also *far more* than qualified in previous years. In 2014, just 28% of all juniors qualified as "on track for college" in ELA. So thousands more students won't have to take remedial tests … Read More

    I think the reporters are missing a key piece of the story for juniors. As noted, 56% of juniors qualified at the “on track for college” standard (exceeds or meets) in English. That is significantly more than projected, yes. But it is also *far more* than qualified in previous years. In 2014, just 28% of all juniors qualified as “on track for college” in ELA. So thousands more students won’t have to take remedial tests for English.

    In math, it’s not a “different story”. It’s “a slightly better story”. In 2014, just 23% of juniors met the standard. This year, it’s 29%–the same as it was in 2013.

    The Smarter Balanced tests did not reveal anything new about our high school students. Nothing that we didn’t already know by the EAP. And it’s very unlikely we’re ever going to get substantially more than 30% overall of our students ready for college math. It’s an incredibly tough standard. If we get to 40%, it’d be cause for mass euphoria. Given that it was a new test, this is a very good result for the juniors

    I see absolutely no value in compiling results. It tells us nothing to glom together 3-8 results, and probably decreases our overall knowledge level to lump these in with high schoolers.

    Replies

    • navigio 11 months ago11 months ago

      Great point. Note also that these performance levels for 11th graders are now the EAP results. Probably why so few opted out. That probably means those results are directly comparable, unlike the claim of others not being.

  5. Chris Stampolis 11 months ago11 months ago

    Welcome back everyone to test score discussions. Hmm. My first review of the data shows little change from the previous CST results. Schools including Milliken, Faria and Bullis have greater than 90 percent met or exceeded standard. Scott Lane has less than 10 percent met or exceeded standard. Bracher has about 50 percent met or exceeded standard. I look forward to folks creating overlays of how schools performed with the last … Read More

    Welcome back everyone to test score discussions. Hmm. My first review of the data shows little change from the previous CST results. Schools including Milliken, Faria and Bullis have greater than 90 percent met or exceeded standard. Scott Lane has less than 10 percent met or exceeded standard. Bracher has about 50 percent met or exceeded standard.

    I look forward to folks creating overlays of how schools performed with the last CST scores compared to how they performed on the SBAC scores. I predict the Title One schools that scored well on the CSTs will continue to score near the top of other Title One schools on the SBACs. Few schools that were low-performers on the CSTs will jump to top of cohort under SBAC, though the schools that do jump should be applauded for success.

    There is no new achievement gap here. The SBAC tests reveal the same spread California saw during the final CST testing period with the same groupings: Asian-Americans in the highest “met or exceeded” percentages, “white” with the next highest, then a big gap, then Latino, then African-American. And these sets of scores are for both English-language assessment and for mathematics assessment.

    The big questions remain: What to do? When to do it? Who will have the courage to allocate sufficient funding from local districts’ budgets to address the needs of the groups that score below “met or exceeded standard”? I believe in turning the budgets upside down and shaking out coin and strategies to solve the real problems. When will leaders like Torlakson state the details of what needs to be done to assist students to close the “achievement gaps”? He commented that comparing the previous CST tests to the SBAC tests is like comparing apples to watermelons. Well, Tom, they both are edible, easily digestible-fruit that also are used to make juice. They both have seeds. So not that different. Just like CST and SBAC results.

    Chris Stampolis
    Governing Board Member, Santa Clara Unified School District
    Member, Democratic National Committee
    PO Box 270, Santa Clara, CA 95052
    408-771-6858 * stampolis@aol.com

    P.S. – “Met or exceeded standard” is just a new way of saying “Proficient or advanced.” No big changes. Same, unanswered challenges.

    Replies

    • Math4Fun 11 months ago11 months ago

      Chris, comparing the SBAC and the CST score is like comparing apples to oranges. The CST gave the students the answers in a multiple choice format, and some questions could be answered correctly by eliminating obvious wrong answers. This means that the students could answer without having to know the concept the question was testing for. The SBAC is trying to get the students to think and actually use the concepts they learned … Read More

      Chris, comparing the SBAC and the CST score is like comparing apples to oranges. The CST gave the students the answers in a multiple choice format, and some questions could be answered correctly by eliminating obvious wrong answers. This means that the students could answer without having to know the concept the question was testing for. The SBAC is trying to get the students to think and actually use the concepts they learned to answer the question.

      Also, the CST has been around for many years and is more mature, while the SBAC is new and it will take time to work out all the bugs in the system.

  6. Richard Moore 11 months ago11 months ago

    So far yours is the only article I’ve seen that doesn’t illustrate itself with students staring at screens. I look forward to the reports in the future tellling us how CC$$ has completely changed education and that all students are above average.

  7. Rick Pratt 11 months ago11 months ago

    John writes: "Test results from 2003, the baseline year for students taking the STAR tests under the 1997 California academic standards, don’t appear to support Torlakson’s argument that the current tests are harder, however. More students met or exceeded the English language arts test this year than were proficient or advanced in 2003: 44 percent vs. 35 percent then." If students performed better this year than in 2003, what is the basis for automatically … Read More

    John writes: “Test results from 2003, the baseline year for students taking the STAR tests under the 1997 California academic standards, don’t appear to support Torlakson’s argument that the current tests are harder, however. More students met or exceeded the English language arts test this year than were proficient or advanced in 2003: 44 percent vs. 35 percent then.” If students performed better this year than in 2003, what is the basis for automatically concluding that the test must be easier, rather than allowing for the possibility that students may be performing better?

    Replies

    • Doug McRae 11 months ago11 months ago

      Rick -- Statewide, CA does not have approved common core textbooks/instructional materials yet -- recommendations for books/materials are still being brewed by the IQC, with action by State Board several months away, with local district adoptions and subsequent teacher training to follow requiring several more years. If grade 11 E/LA results are interpreted as students performing better, then it ain't because common core instruction has been implemented statewide for this one isolated grade level and … Read More

      Rick — Statewide, CA does not have approved common core textbooks/instructional materials yet — recommendations for books/materials are still being brewed by the IQC, with action by State Board several months away, with local district adoptions and subsequent teacher training to follow requiring several more years. If grade 11 E/LA results are interpreted as students performing better, then it ain’t because common core instruction has been implemented statewide for this one isolated grade level and content area. Rather the logical deduction is that the 56% Met & Above reflects easier standards, or easier tests, or some sort of test development or scoring anomaly — pick your poison. The 56% stands out like a flashing red outlier without, to date, an explanation.

      • Don 11 months ago11 months ago

        Doug, well stated, per normal. That's the $64K question that none of the reporters bothered to specifically question, but which John alluded to. Since drop out rates have fallen, I assume it isn't due to a higher performing pool of test participants. On another note, did you see the test participation rates? I looked up a few district subgroups numbers including my own by ethnicity and disadvantaged ethnicity and they were all … Read More

        Doug, well stated, per normal. That’s the $64K question that none of the reporters bothered to specifically question, but which John alluded to. Since drop out rates have fallen, I assume it isn’t due to a higher performing pool of test participants.

        On another note, did you see the test participation rates? I looked up a few district subgroups numbers including my own by ethnicity and disadvantaged ethnicity and they were all exceedingly low. Am I reading this incorrectly?

        • Doug McRae 11 months ago11 months ago

          Don — Without checking, I recollect the percents you refer to are # subgroup students participating divided by total enrollment, not enrollment by subgroup. I recollect STAR reporting doing the same thing . . . . the same total enrollment number by grade is used as the denominator for all subgroup #s participating. So, its not a participation percent within subgroup calculation.

          • Don 11 months ago11 months ago

            But the total to the right is also a single digit number.

          • Don 11 months ago11 months ago

            Doug, the number of students reported to have taken the test is a corresponding low score consistent with the low percentage numbers. How can only 360 out of 4,387 3rd graders take the test? Here's an example for SFUSD by ethnicity for African Americans: ( you have to correct for the columns) Overall Achievement 3rd Grade 4th Grade 5th Grade 6th Grade 7th Grade 8th Grade 11th Grade All Number of Students Enrolled 4,387 4,368 4,232 3,474 3,461 3,534 3,783 27,239 Number of Students Tested 360 336 304 230 294 256 169 1,949 Percent of Enrolled Students Tested 8.2 % 7.7 % 7.2 % 6.6 % 8.5 % 7.2 % 4.5 % 7.2 … Read More

            Doug, the number of students reported to have taken the test is a corresponding low score consistent with the low percentage numbers. How can only 360 out of 4,387 3rd graders take the test?

            Here’s an example for SFUSD by ethnicity for African Americans:
            ( you have to correct for the columns)

            Overall Achievement
            3rd Grade 4th Grade 5th Grade 6th Grade 7th Grade 8th Grade 11th Grade All
            Number of Students Enrolled 4,387 4,368 4,232 3,474 3,461 3,534 3,783 27,239
            Number of Students Tested 360 336 304 230 294 256 169 1,949
            Percent of Enrolled Students Tested 8.2 % 7.7 % 7.2 % 6.6 % 8.5 % 7.2 % 4.5 % 7.2 %
            Number of Students With Scores 360 336 304 230 288 251 169 1,938

      • el 11 months ago11 months ago

        It can also be that kids are just generally more academically capable and have a better base for answering questions on material they weren't explicitly taught than they did in 2003. That could be because schools are better; it could also be that parents everywhere are emphasizing education more, or it could even be because the internet is so freaking awesome that kids spend a lot more time reading and following their interests than they … Read More

        It can also be that kids are just generally more academically capable and have a better base for answering questions on material they weren’t explicitly taught than they did in 2003.

        That could be because schools are better; it could also be that parents everywhere are emphasizing education more, or it could even be because the internet is so freaking awesome that kids spend a lot more time reading and following their interests than they could in 2003. Our current kids are the first cohort to grow up in a world where there was more content and information available in a computer than in a library and that could be making a difference all by itself.

        Kids have much more opportunity to get their own education despite the adults in their lives than ever before. Not all kids, and that’s its own tragedy. But more kids have more opportunity. It is only getting better.

        We know Sesame Street benefitted a lot of kids academically; this group of kids has Mythbusters and legos that come with computer programmable motors. People who make things and know things have always been heroes to this group.

        That said, I think schools are better too. They are definitely better than when I was a child in the 1970s and 1980s, and I think in general (despite rather than because of external forces) teachers are bringing in better content and are much better at being able to meet the needs of all kids than they could in the 1990s, when those 2003 test takers were educated. Class size reduction started in 1996; the kids we are testing now have all benefitted from it starting in kindergarten.

        If you want to know if the tests or standards are “easier” compared to the 2003 set, you’d have to administer the same tests to the same cohort. You can’t just assume it. 12 years apart, the kids are completely different.

  8. el 11 months ago11 months ago

    I hypothesize if we had adults take these tests,in all their computer-y glory, that we would have an interesting comparison benchmark. I don't think decisionmakers can have an informed opinion about what those scores mean without doing so; the new test is too alien compared to what we experienced as kids. If I am releasing a software product, it's my job to go out of my way to test and develop the interface to make it … Read More

    I hypothesize if we had adults take these tests,in all their computer-y glory, that we would have an interesting comparison benchmark. I don’t think decisionmakers can have an informed opinion about what those scores mean without doing so; the new test is too alien compared to what we experienced as kids.

    If I am releasing a software product, it’s my job to go out of my way to test and develop the interface to make it as unambiguous, inviting, and easy to use as possible. If I do not, people will not use my product or service. However, these standardized exams have a culture of being ambiguous and confusing to try to stack-rank students, to sift out the ones best able to get the right answer despite obscuration and misdirection. I have concerns, from what I have seen, that this culture has extended not only to the problems (itself something that should be examined) but also to the design of the interface and the answering systems. IE, you are being tested not only on your ability to divide decimal numbers, but also on your ability to drag things around a screen and understand where they should be dragged and what answer you’ve actually logged, when maybe the less sexy but more pedagogically sound choice is just to have a box where you type the number that was your answer.

    I think the public needs to see and experience what our hundreds of millions of dollars is actually measuring and compare it to their own skillsets, so they have an accurate understanding of what it is we are asking of our kids.

    Replies

    • Manuel 11 months ago11 months ago

      el, your comment is very much on the mark.

      alas, I doubt that the Usual Suspects will let the public peek behind the curtain.

    • Doug McRae 11 months ago11 months ago

      EL -- So, how does your rationale explain the differences between CA's grade 11 performance E/LA and Math results? I don't see how the factors you cite would apply to E/LA but not Math. That being said, I would agree the only way to get direct comparison information between old and new is to give both tests to the same cohort. But that study does not demand full tests given to a full cohort -- rather, … Read More

      EL — So, how does your rationale explain the differences between CA’s grade 11 performance E/LA and Math results? I don’t see how the factors you cite would apply to E/LA but not Math.

      That being said, I would agree the only way to get direct comparison information between old and new is to give both tests to the same cohort. But that study does not demand full tests given to a full cohort — rather, to get equivalency information for the limited purpose of comparing old to new for aggregates the first year the new tests are given, embedding small samples of old test questions within item-tryouts studies (2014 for SBAC) using matrix samples for the item-tryouts can generate sufficient information for decent equivalency estimates between old and new tests. As indicated in John’s post, however, for robust cut score setting with accurate data for percents for each achievement category, we need administration to all students with final versions of the new tests (in other words, the first year of full administration). Smarter Balanced did not do that. My best guess (not knowing the full story since neither SBAC nor CDE have released detailed info on how the cut scores were actually set) is that for grade 11 the SBAC cut scores grossly underestimated E/LA likely percents for Met & Above and overestimated Math likely percents to a lesser degree. It was like throwing darts as a target with a 2-ft diameter; E/LA’s dart was 3 ft below the target center, while Math’s was 1-2 ft above the target, generating inaccurate info for both content areas. But, there is a solution (tongue-in-cheek coming here) — create a total E/LA plus Math score, and with one foot in the fire and the other in the ice bucket, on average the total cut score is reasonably accurate!! Problem is, that solution doesn’t satisfy the need for accurate valid reliable fair E/LA or Math scores for individual kids . . . . and as a result the 2015 SBAC data for grade 11 are significantly flawed for all kids, both E/LA and Math.

      • Doug McRae 11 months ago11 months ago

        Oops, this reply belongs two places up the chain.

      • el 11 months ago11 months ago

        Yeah, I just don’t know. And to confound this all further, the 11th graders are the only ones with ‘skin in the game’ on these tests, since a good score is used for placement at CSU via EAP.

        Lots and lots of moving parts.

  9. Parent 11 months ago11 months ago

    Wealthier kids get the better teachers. Poor kids get junk. Another affirmation of the Vergara v. California verdict.

    I would hope that the CTA and the CFT drop their opposition and work with lawmakers to put students first and earn the trust and respect that teachers in Finland enjoy.

    But I doubt it.

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 11 months ago11 months ago

      As Paul says, test scores are a proxy for wealth. The correlation holds true worldwide. (Yes, there are outliers -- individuals, demographic subgroups groups and schools -- but overall on average, this is the case. Worldwide. No miracle fixes have been found.) That's why the savvy referred to California's former accountability system, the API, as the "affluent parent index" (officially "academic performance index). Impoverished kids overwhelmingly tend, overall on average, to struggle academically and face other … Read More

      As Paul says, test scores are a proxy for wealth. The correlation holds true worldwide. (Yes, there are outliers — individuals, demographic subgroups groups and schools — but overall on average, this is the case. Worldwide. No miracle fixes have been found.) That’s why the savvy referred to California’s former accountability system, the API, as the “affluent parent index” (officially “academic performance index).

      Impoverished kids overwhelmingly tend, overall on average, to struggle academically and face other challenges, such as much rates of illness, disability, truancy/absence and mobility (moving a lot).

      What that means is that a teacher who’s a “good teacher” with high-income kids is likely to be an “ineffective teacher” with a high-poverty class. So the notion that poor kids are getting the “bad teachers” is confounded by that reality, and confident proclamations that there’s been some magical way to control for that don’t hold up to scrutiny. As the wife of a longtime urban-public-school sub, I can tell you that my husband has seen that regularly — great teacher one day in one school, struggling teacher the next day in another school.

      Vergara is based on a false story: that the problems of impoverished students are caused by “bad teachers” who can’t be fired. The real story is that high-poverty schools can’t KEEP teachers, not that they can’t get rid of “bad teachers.” A segment of the “reform” world has long acknowledged that reality, because it was the basis for the creation of Teach for America; other segments of the “reform” world tell a story that conflicts with that, the one on which Vergara is based.

      • SD Parent 11 months ago11 months ago

        I'd really like to see a good study that links test scores to wealth but controls for the educational levels attained by the parents. There is a strong correlation between wealth and educational level. The highest paying jobs generally go to those with advanced degrees (e.g. doctors, lawyers, CEO's) and bachelor's degrees in STEM (e.g. engineers) and business (e.g. sales). Attaining these careers requires a focus on education and soft skills like … Read More

        I’d really like to see a good study that links test scores to wealth but controls for the educational levels attained by the parents. There is a strong correlation between wealth and educational level. The highest paying jobs generally go to those with advanced degrees (e.g. doctors, lawyers, CEO’s) and bachelor’s degrees in STEM (e.g. engineers) and business (e.g. sales). Attaining these careers requires a focus on education and soft skills like tenacity, good communication and critical thinking. Children who grow up in those home environments don’t just have more opportunities afforded by greater wealth; they also would be exposed directly and indirectly to the focus on education and soft skills that helped their parents succeed.
        I would think that the success of the children of Asian immigrants would support the notion that it is the focus on education and soft skills rather than wealth that drives “success” (as measured by test scores and later careers, which generally translate into future wealth).

        • el 11 months ago11 months ago

          Your statement that education correlates to income is loosely true but it is not as strong a coupling as you suggest - for example, there are lots of STEM PhDs in academic laboratories barely making ends meet, and a lot of plumbers doing very well for themselves. There is also the matter of confusing income and wealth. It is possible to be both low income and still fairly wealthy, both personally and in a more general … Read More

          Your statement that education correlates to income is loosely true but it is not as strong a coupling as you suggest – for example, there are lots of STEM PhDs in academic laboratories barely making ends meet, and a lot of plumbers doing very well for themselves.

          There is also the matter of confusing income and wealth. It is possible to be both low income and still fairly wealthy, both personally and in a more general sense. If I make $30k but my parents and grandparents own their homes and have comfortable savings, I’m in a much better place than if I make $30k and my parents are struggling to get by and depending on ME to help THEM and perhaps my siblings as well.

          My guess is that either parental education OR wealth is extremely helpful to student success. Education brings homework help, books, library access, and also, – very importantly – networking to other educated people and to possibilities. Wealth brings personal security, the ability to make mistakes, the ability to go past rough spots, vacation time and time in general to spend with your kids when needed, the ability to follow up on interests, oh and not incidentally – networking. As the meme going around my facebook last week says, money may not buy happiness, but it does buy art supplies. This is not a small thing.

          But sure, there are kids out there who are low income because both parents are in graduate school, and I think it’s correct to believe that those kids are much better off than the kids of people with equivalent incomes who are cobbling together two jobs at Walmart and Subway with constantly changing shifts.

          I also suspect that both are more step functions than continuous. That is, the difference between your parents having a master’s degree and a Ph.D. is probably not important, and the difference between $100k and $400k of income isn’t important. It makes a difference to have enough money and/or education to feel secure in your present and your future, and to meet your current needs.

      • Tom 11 months ago11 months ago

        I disagree with that simple "wealth" explanation. Sure wealth helps because parents are more able to subsidize the miserably low level of funding for public schools in CA, but how does it explain low-income, minority student success in places like Harlem and Washington DC? Would argue that school choice helps these kids. Money does not solve all social ills particularly with immigrant kids with english-language issues and single parent families. Besides, the … Read More

        I disagree with that simple “wealth” explanation. Sure wealth helps because parents are more able to subsidize the miserably low level of funding for public schools in CA, but how does it explain low-income, minority student success in places like Harlem and Washington DC? Would argue that school choice helps these kids. Money does not solve all social ills particularly with immigrant kids with english-language issues and single parent families. Besides, the government is now putting priority for spending on 1) transportation, and 2) health care.

        • Manuel 11 months ago11 months ago

          Tom, please cite the specific cases you are referring to.

          AFAIK, the only “success” in the places you mention are highly suspect (for instance, Canada claimed to have closed a school “because its performance was not good enough;” that means he put the onus on the students not on his vaunted methods).

          • Tom 11 months ago11 months ago

            Manual, There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today, Saturday 9/12, discussing the education struggles in the LA area at low-income, minority, ELS schools and how going going Charter has raised student performance. Also talks about the battles with the union establishment who want nobody to upset their monopoly despite the negative impacts to learning. Ravani is clearly in this camp. The featured crusader is Alfonso Flores, a decorated … Read More

            Manual, There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today, Saturday 9/12, discussing the education struggles in the LA area at low-income, minority, ELS schools and how going going Charter has raised student performance. Also talks about the battles with the union establishment who want nobody to upset their monopoly despite the negative impacts to learning. Ravani is clearly in this camp. The featured crusader is Alfonso Flores, a decorated Green Beret, who says “Poverty is not an issue.” Hope you can get your hands on it. Per Edsource Policy, won’t attach a link.

            • navigio 10 months ago10 months ago

              Would you expect anything else from the wsj?

            • Tom 10 months ago10 months ago

              You might want to keep an open mind and read the story despite where it was published.

            • navigio 10 months ago10 months ago

              I read it. My comment came after having given it a chance.

            • Tom 10 months ago10 months ago

              That’s interesting – can you elaborate on where you saw shortcomings in the article?

            • TheMorrigan 10 months ago10 months ago

              My take on its shortcomings: 1) He "boils" down the argument to make it either/or and makes a false choice in the process: You are either with unionized teachers (implied: not helping minority children learn) or with minority children helping them attend charters (implied: only place where they can learn). We have a potential hero in waiting here, so listen up. I am a lukewarm charter advocate but I know that it certainly doesn't work that … Read More

              My take on its shortcomings:

              1) He “boils” down the argument to make it either/or and makes a false choice in the process: You are either with unionized teachers (implied: not helping minority children learn) or with minority children helping them attend charters (implied: only place where they can learn). We have a potential hero in waiting here, so listen up.

              I am a lukewarm charter advocate but I know that it certainly doesn’t work that way. But this is an editorial so we have to give the writer some leeway. We ultimately find out that in his own writing what it “boils down to” isn’t so either/or when we shift through the backstory and the union opposition (isn’t the district opposed to the charter as well?). So, I suppose, the author kinda recognizes this problem but chose this frame anyway. It suggests that this writer’s goal is not to persuade or convince but to feed and empathize with the base.

              2) The author deliberately left some relevant information out. It should have issues of transparency; allowing all parents (current and future) to have a voice in the current, ongoing, and future choice of the school; and allowing the community to decide how it wants to move forward. However, he leaves these problems out of his piece.

              Is it balanced? Is it fair? No more than Fox News or MSNBC is.

            • Don 10 months ago10 months ago

              It doesn't boil down to unions trying to stop minorities from attending charters. It boils down to unions trying to stop anyone from attending charters. So in that sense the author is engaging in a bit of race-baiting by portraying it as a race issue when this is an economic one. At their core, charters in general and the parent trigger specifically represent a challenge to the union status quo and the hegemony its enjoys, … Read More

              It doesn’t boil down to unions trying to stop minorities from attending charters. It boils down to unions trying to stop anyone from attending charters. So in that sense the author is engaging in a bit of race-baiting by portraying it as a race issue when this is an economic one. At their core, charters in general and the parent trigger specifically represent a challenge to the union status quo and the hegemony its enjoys, particularly if the Trigger were to become a commonplace tool of charter conversion. That’s why it must be stopped at all costs. The success of charters would compound were Triggers to be successful, even within the current annual limits set. It would nullify union power in school decision-making and reduce the size of union membership and the dues generated.

              TheMorrigan is bogged down in the author’s biases. She may have mischaracterized charter conversion as an issue of race where it simply has racial components. But Alphoso Flores does not. He sees it as a parent/community vs. union/district battle, just as he should.

            • TheMorrigan 10 months ago10 months ago

              Don, It is rather tough not to get bogged down when I am addressing Tom's specific question. Tom's question was what were the "shortcomings of the article," not the topic itself, nor Flores himself, nor any other related but different point. You work with what you are supposed to work with when someone asks a question. You don't get sidetracked on your own bandwagon. Bias is not the problem. I explicitly mentioned that in my previous … Read More

              Don,

              It is rather tough not to get bogged down when I am addressing Tom’s specific question. Tom’s question was what were the “shortcomings of the article,” not the topic itself, nor Flores himself, nor any other related but different point. You work with what you are supposed to work with when someone asks a question. You don’t get sidetracked on your own bandwagon.

              Bias is not the problem. I explicitly mentioned that in my previous post. All editorials have bias. The author simply has a very superficial understanding of the issue at hand. The article does a great job with heroification, but a terrible job explaining what had happened, what is happening, and what could happen. There’s a lot to imply here and a lot of assumption. I guess I could say it fails addressing what Tom wanted it to address, but it is, nevertheless, a nice puff piece for Flores.

            • navigio 10 months ago10 months ago

              Personally, I think the bias aspect does matter in this instance for two reasons: one was that Tom presented the piece as an 'article', from which could be concluded that going charter raises performance and that poverty is not an issue in public education (why I pointed out its apparent alignment with wsj). second is that the piece is not just a normal opinion piece, but is constructed as a narrative of some 'third party … Read More

              Personally, I think the bias aspect does matter in this instance for two reasons: one was that Tom presented the piece as an ‘article’, from which could be concluded that going charter raises performance and that poverty is not an issue in public education (why I pointed out its apparent alignment with wsj). second is that the piece is not just a normal opinion piece, but is constructed as a narrative of some ‘third party conflict’. IMHO, this presents a false sense of objectivity, and makes highlighting any bias more important. To be sure, this is a common method in today’s ‘journalism’, but doesnt mean it shouldnt be called out.

              Regarding Tom’s question, I appreciate you asking.

              Since I went to it expecting an article, but found an editorial, most of my initial concern was with the wording the piece uses that construct the base set of propositions for its narrative:
              ‘broken public schools’
              ‘bad school’
              ‘horrible school’
              ‘worst school’
              ‘teachers unions’ vs ‘parents who are trying to fix CA’s broken public school’s
              ‘unionized teachers keeping kids out of school’
              ‘grass roots insurgency’ vs ‘union-controlled regime’
              ‘anchor baby’
              ‘Teacher’s unions and their allies blame poverty for bad schools’
              etc.

              The first half of the piece is steeped in this stuff. Again, opinion piece, fine, but if that’s really all that is, then we can also just dismiss the story about Flores as made up too.. ?

              I do agree with the over-simplification of all this stuff. I am not surprised that exists; no mainstream media outlet accurately portray’s education issues, but if we’re looking to make actual conclusions from this piece, then those things do matter.

              In the first year of Flores’ school, its true it did well. in fact exceedingly well: 954 API. Of course there is failure to mention that that was only 2 second grade classrooms(16 students per class?). As the school grew, its results dropped. 100 points in the first year, another 60 or the next. Im sure he did a great job, and I’m sure it’s actually much easier to ‘engage parents’ (his given reason for why scores were so high) when there were only a couple dozen families to talk to, but I also think it’s unfair to use the claims presented in the piece as even remotely an example of ‘evidence’ that ‘going charter raises student performance’, unless maybe we’re willing to fund schools in such a way that we could have such class and school sizes (let me know when that bandwagon rumbles by and I’ll gladly hop on..), though I expect those initial results had more to do with who those students were than anything.

              I wish he had provided more specifics about the issues highlighted at Normandie. The fact that they didnt makes, those claims suspect, especially given other omissions.

              The rest of it I actually have less problem with. Quotes from Flores directly we can at least inspect those, and there is no doubt that behavior on both ‘sides’ has been despicable in some cases. In that sense, the one aspect of the piece that does work is how it’s set to a war metaphor. But in war and in battles, participants do anything it takes to persevere. Anything. But if anything, that fact tends to diminish the egregiousness of everyone’s actions, not just those of one ‘side’. Of course no one who’s ‘trying to rally the troops’ would ever admit that.

            • el 10 months ago10 months ago

              I don't understand the attraction of a Parent Trigger that totally takes the governance of the school out of the community or the parents attending the school. If a Parent Trigger was set up instead so that it made essentially that school into its own district with its own elected board, I'd support that no problem. But, the mechanism as built is a petition with no public discussion on the permanent charter choice and no … Read More

              I don’t understand the attraction of a Parent Trigger that totally takes the governance of the school out of the community or the parents attending the school. If a Parent Trigger was set up instead so that it made essentially that school into its own district with its own elected board, I’d support that no problem. But, the mechanism as built is a petition with no public discussion on the permanent charter choice and no undo feature if the corporate board doesn’t work out or if the parents in the school don’t like the results.

        • Gary Ravani 11 months ago11 months ago

          Tom: Well, you kind of have to disagree with the "wealth" issue, don't you? If as a nation, not just you, come to the conclusion that having one of the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world is a moral, economic, and educational crisis then you (and all the others) would have to acknowledge that something needs to be done about it. And that would mean reducing poverty for children which means reducing poverty for … Read More

          Tom:

          Well, you kind of have to disagree with the “wealth” issue, don’t you? If as a nation, not just you, come to the conclusion that having one of the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world is a moral, economic, and educational crisis then you (and all the others) would have to acknowledge that something needs to be done about it. And that would mean reducing poverty for children which means reducing poverty for parents. And that means going to where the money is in this country: the wealthy! And then the dreaded “T” word: Taxes. Oh, the humanity.

          The current administration in Washington is proposing programs to support “free” community college for all. This would be as it was when I attended community college in CA., and most find it a reasonable investment. The opposition party has expressed absolutely no interest in supporting this plan. Can you imagine what the response would be of it was proposed to bring childhood poverty down to say 5% in this country as it is in many “high performing countries?”

          Washington DC is an “outlier” in several ways: 1) it has high numbers of children who qualify for extra funding under various federal title programs; 2) it has incredibly high rates of poverty (accounting for the children who qualify for the government programs) and violence. Most states that have high school spending also have high achieving schools. They also have highly unionized teachers who help drive those spending levels.

          I don’t know what you meant by “Harlem.” The best known program in Harlem is the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) which uses a community based services model at schools as well as a restrictive attendance charter model. It does get millions from the hedge fund guys, but is also recognized as being an academic success.

          BTW: There is considerable evidence that poverty, and its educational and social consequences, drives single parenthood and not the other way around.

          • Tom 11 months ago11 months ago

            Gary, again you are assuming, and confusing, that government programs are the cure for poverty. This is something some politicians use to get votes, and when successful, become wealthy hypocrites. Johnson started the welfare movement and it just has not worked to eliminate poverty, in reality it is worse. The best solution to poverty is jobs, not government handouts. It is interesting what Thomas Sowell noted about African Americans in … Read More

            Gary, again you are assuming, and confusing, that government programs are the cure for poverty. This is something some politicians use to get votes, and when successful, become wealthy hypocrites. Johnson started the welfare movement and it just has not worked to eliminate poverty, in reality it is worse. The best solution to poverty is jobs, not government handouts. It is interesting what Thomas Sowell noted about African Americans in this country who were much better off in the 1920’s than they are today and it is not because prejudice has gotten worse! He blames the worsening conditions on “ghetto culture” changes to African American family values and welfare programs that encourage single parenthood. Single parents statistically make less money, live in worse areas, and of course the kids have a much tougher time in school for those reasons. Teacher would rather not go to work in high crime areas – can you blame them? We are looking and societal problems that manifest themselves in poor academic performance and only an extreme amount of government spending in “sanctuary” schools will help that. Charter schools can work in poor areas because the parents that care are allowed to send their kids there. D.C. had a voucher system, thanks to Michelle Rhee, that proved this. Same with Harlem.

            • Gary Ravani 11 months ago11 months ago

              Tom: It is said that those who want to trust in the "American Dream" should move to Denmark. Or Finland. Not to mention the other the other N European social democracies. All of these countries didn't start with lower levels of childhood poverty, they purposefully enacted government policies to support parents, jobs, the social service safety net, universal healthcare, etc. These countries also have higher national "averages" on international tests. I emphasize national because … Read More

              Tom:

              It is said that those who want to trust in the “American Dream” should move to Denmark. Or Finland. Not to mention the other the other N European social democracies. All of these countries didn’t start with lower levels of childhood poverty, they purposefully enacted government policies to support parents, jobs, the social service safety net, universal healthcare, etc.

              These countries also have higher national “averages” on international tests. I emphasize national because the US has even better international test scores if you only look at US schools in affluent areas. Just like of you look at schools in affluent areas of CA you see higher scores on the current round of SBAC tests. Not a surprise. And there is considerable evidence that current government policies, particularly tax policies, give these kids an advantage. And kids in less affluent communities a disadvantage.

              You want to go into the typical “blame the victim” mode to account for poverty ignoring many other factors like racism. This impacts not just education, but also law enforcement as you may have noticed.

              You appear not to have noticed that I prefaced my comments about the Harlem Children’s Zone, and the charter schools, with “restrictive attendance” policies and millions of dollars extra for student services provided by hedge fund folks who support any initiative that isn’t public. We need millions of extra dollars for all the kids in disadvantaged circumstances to help narrow the achievement gaps. Enlightened reform policies won’t hurt either.

              The evidence is quite clear. If we want to remove disadvantages for the high numbers of students living in poverty in the US, government programs are the only way to do it. Many, looking at the involved populations, don’t want to do it. The hedge fund guys aren’t going to provide millions for all schools with high populations of disadvantaged students. Why that would be almost as “bad” as taxes to support the commons.

              BTW: There’s not much evidence that anything positive was happening in DC schools under Rhee. That’s why she’s not there anymore. There is evidence there was a lot of cheating on test scores.

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              Tom:

              I could go on in more detail; however, it turns out I already did in previous incarnation of Ed Source. You can’t find it on the current search engine, but it is available on the net:

              School performance depends on close attention to social equity
              By Gary Ravani
              (Or, As They Say In Finland: “koulumenestys riippuu huomiota sosiaaliseen pääomaan.”)

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              Tom: For your convenience I have found a link to the article on Finland and real "school" reform. http://toped.svefoundation.org/2010/12/01/school-performance-depends-on-close-attention-to-social-equity/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheEducatedGuess+%28SVEF+Blog+-+Thoughts+On+Public+Education+%28TOP-Ed%29%29 BTW: Your guy Thomas Sowell is attached to the Hoover Institution. Hoover, it must be said to their credit, makes no bones about being a conservative/libertarian, anti-tax, "research" outfit. It's simply amazing how often their "research" ends up supporting the ideology they walked into the "research" projects they engage in. So, I am not impressed with his statements about the … Read More

              Tom:

              For your convenience I have found a link to the article on Finland and real “school” reform.

              http://toped.svefoundation.org/2010/12/01/school-performance-depends-on-close-attention-to-social-equity/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheEducatedGuess+%28SVEF+Blog+-+Thoughts+On+Public+Education+%28TOP-Ed%29%29

              BTW:

              Your guy Thomas Sowell is attached to the Hoover Institution. Hoover, it must be said to their credit, makes no bones about being a conservative/libertarian, anti-tax, “research” outfit. It’s simply amazing how often their “research” ends up supporting the ideology they walked into the “research” projects they engage in. So, I am not impressed with his statements about the plight of the Black population, and particularly, Black kids, in the US even if he is Black also.

              I continue to note (repeatedly) that the conservative/libertarian oriented commentators have offered no explanation (excuse? rationale?) for the US, the wealthiest nation on Earth, to have a child poverty rate the exceeds almost every other industrialized nation.

        • CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

          A few points: It's universally known and accepted that test scores correlate with wealth. Not that someone couldn't try to argue, but the data are clear and overwhelming -- that's just not the hill you would want to die on. Yes, of course there are outliers -- schools, demographic subgroups and of course individual students. But the correlation is overwhelmingly clear. A slight correction for Manuel -- Geoffrey Canada expelled an entire grade at one … Read More

          A few points: It’s universally known and accepted that test scores correlate with wealth. Not that someone couldn’t try to argue, but the data are clear and overwhelming — that’s just not the hill you would want to die on. Yes, of course there are outliers — schools, demographic subgroups and of course individual students. But the correlation is overwhelmingly clear.

          A slight correction for Manuel — Geoffrey Canada expelled an entire grade at one of his schools. It’s described in Paul Tough’s mostly admiring book about the Harlem Children’s Zone. That’s one of the pieces of undeniable information that has caused the charter sector overall to back off on its former insistence that charter schools don’t cherry-pick, and that has put “skimming,” “counseling out” and “backfilling” on the radar in the discussion.
          since
          Don, for all the hoohah and reams of press (in the past) about the parent trigger, since its creation in 2010, it has turned a total of one single school (Desert Trails in Adelanto, Riverside County) into a charter. Reports on the success or failure of that outcome are wildly mixed. One fly in that ointment is that most charter operators don’t want to take over existing struggling schools. Bursts of parent-trigger activity pop up every so often, but it really isn’t a player in the “reform” game anymore. (Plus all the people originally involved have turned on each other and become combatants for reasons that aren’t clear to us unwashed masses.)

      • Don 11 months ago11 months ago

        Caroline, if you want to know what the fixes are you don't ignore the outliers. Why do the outliers outperform? You can say that poverty is the cause and forever it will be for those that believe it. The world is unlikely to be rid of poverty anytime soon and entreaties from Ravani and others to provide more welfare for the poor will not make the recipients of it any more likely to adopt the … Read More

        Caroline, if you want to know what the fixes are you don’t ignore the outliers. Why do the outliers outperform?

        You can say that poverty is the cause and forever it will be for those that believe it. The world is unlikely to be rid of poverty anytime soon and entreaties from Ravani and others to provide more welfare for the poor will not make the recipients of it any more likely to adopt the personal responsibilities that characterize high performing students. As you say correlation is not causation and thank God for that, otherwise no one wold ever rise out of poverty through education.

        • Don 11 months ago11 months ago

          I’d add that your allusion to outliers, as in ethnicities that do well despite being economically disadvantaged, is absurd. How can one infer that whole races or ethnicities are “outliers” in any sense of the word?

          • CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

            Well, I disagree — if poverty overwhelmingly correlates with low achievement, worldwide, but that correlation doesn’t exist with one particular demographic subgroup, that subgroup is an outlier. I can say it because that’s the definition of an outlier.

    • Dawn Urbanek 11 months ago11 months ago

      Parent I have reviewed the data and can say that for Capistrano (a wealthy district) in Math every demographic is performing equally poorly- EAP for Algebra II 3% Ready 18% Conditional and 79% Not ready. As to demographics: English Learners now out perform English only, the economically disadvantaged outperform the not economically disadvantaged, and students with Disabilities outperform students with no reported disabilities. We have closed the GAP in CUSD- everyone is equally poor in … Read More

      Parent I have reviewed the data and can say that for Capistrano (a wealthy district) in Math every demographic is performing equally poorly- EAP for Algebra II 3% Ready 18% Conditional and 79% Not ready. As to demographics: English Learners now out perform English only, the economically disadvantaged outperform the not economically disadvantaged, and students with Disabilities outperform students with no reported disabilities. We have closed the GAP in CUSD- everyone is equally poor in Math. There is no longer any advantage to being wealthy, white or asian or to having well educated parents.

      Source: http://eap2014.ets.org/ViewReport.asp

      English Language Learner: 6% Ready for College
      English Only: 3%

      African American (Non Hispanic) – 0
      American Indian – Not Reported
      Asian – 0
      Filipino – 10%
      Hispanic or Latino – 2%
      Pacific Islander – Not Reported
      White (Non Hispanic) – 3%
      2 or more races – 27%

      Economically Disadvantaged – 5%
      Not Economically Disadvantaged – 2%

      Students With Disabilities – 9%
      Students with No Disabilities – 3%

      Fluent English Proficient and English Only – 9%
      Initially Fluent – English Proficient – 9%
      Reclassified – English Proficient – 9%

    • Gary Ravani 11 months ago11 months ago

      Parent: All teachers in Finland are union members. There are no charter schools in Finland. (I don't even think there are private schools.) Finland has a child poverty rate of around 5% while the US it is around 23%. The evidence shows that kids in poor districts get newer and less experienced teachers and teacher turnover is very high. Vergara will do nothing to deal with any of those issues. CFT and CTA oppose Vergara because of … Read More

      Parent:

      All teachers in Finland are union members. There are no charter schools in Finland. (I don’t even think there are private schools.) Finland has a child poverty rate of around 5% while the US it is around 23%.

      The evidence shows that kids in poor districts get newer and less experienced teachers and teacher turnover is very high. Vergara will do nothing to deal with any of those issues. CFT and CTA oppose Vergara because of those reasons and the fact that billionaire funded Vergara is a distraction from those reasons. It is yet one more distraction from the fact that the US has nearly the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world and CA has some of the highest child poverty rates in this nation.

      • Parent 11 months ago11 months ago

        Do teachers in Finland consider themselves to be in the same profession as unionized American teachers?

        • el 11 months ago11 months ago

          "Parent", you might find this blog, by a Finnish educator, interesting. http://pasisahlberg.com/text/ He talks about certain prerequisites, like that preschool through university, all education is free, and that all kids have full access to health care. All schools are funded evenly regardless of location or wealth. I'd add that Finnish parents have substantial vacation time. Then he says this: Instead, they see teachers teaching and pupils learning as they would in any typical good school in the United … Read More

          “Parent”, you might find this blog, by a Finnish educator, interesting. http://pasisahlberg.com/text/

          He talks about certain prerequisites, like that preschool through university, all education is free, and that all kids have full access to health care. All schools are funded evenly regardless of location or wealth. I’d add that Finnish parents have substantial vacation time.

          Then he says this:

          Instead, they see teachers teaching and pupils learning as they would in any typical good school in the United States. Some observers call this “pedagogical conservatism” or “informal and relaxed” because there does not appear to be much going on in classrooms.

          The irony of Finnish educational success is that it derives heavily from classroom innovation and school improvement research in the United States. Cooperative learning and portfolio assessment are examples of American classroom-based innovations that have been implemented in large scale in the Finnish school system.

          So to answer your question, yes, evidence is that they consider themselves in the same profession. 🙂

          As a parent myself, and at a Title 1 school to boot, I feel fortunate to know and have known many excellent teachers during my child’s schooling. I’m sorry your experience has not been as positive.

          • Parent 11 months ago11 months ago

            That is a pretty good blog. I think the best entry there is “There will never be a Teach for Finland”. “Finns think of teaching as a high-status profession akin to medicine, law, or engineering.” That doesn’t sound like how union teachers are thought of in the USA.

            • Lisa 11 months ago11 months ago

              When I decided to become a teacher, my father, who taught high school for almost 40 years, said, " I thought I taught you better than that." He was referring to the disdain that many parents, teachers and school administrators have for teachers. As a special education teacher, I average a 9 hour workday plus 2-3 hours of take-home paperwork in the form of IEP preparation. My point being that if there were no union … Read More

              When I decided to become a teacher, my father, who taught high school for almost 40 years, said, ” I thought I taught you better than that.” He was referring to the disdain that many parents, teachers and school administrators have for teachers. As a special education teacher, I average a 9 hour workday plus 2-3 hours of take-home paperwork in the form of IEP preparation. My point being that if there were no union at all, I’d be working even longer hours without additional pay to supervise children in extracurricular activities, then be shamed because my lesson plans weren’t elaborately conceived and chided for being nothing more than a baby sitter. The truth now that I have my doctorate is that I make only $250 a year more than I did before I received the doctorate and I am still not well respected by other professionals such as physicians, attorneys and the like. The union is looking out for me and is the ONLY organization who cares about working conditions and respect for teachers. Mine is the only profession where I have to provide my own office supplies and those of my clients ( students) my own supplemental furniture and expected wall decorations and displays, etc. I could go on, but I doubt it would click for you. I work in a district where nearly all of the schools in it are title I. The reason teachers don’t want to work where there is high crime and high poverty are the same reasons you wouldn’t want to work in such a place. These problems are systemic to our society – not problems with educational systems. Walk a day in my shoes…

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              From the 2015 Gallup/PDK poll on education: "This year, 51% of Americans gave schools in their own community a grade of either A or B; only 4% gave their schools a failing grade. What’s most interesting is how consistent these grades have been during the last 10 years. Since 2005, the percentage range of A’s and B’s has gone as low as 45% and as high as 53%. In fact, the variance in the grades has … Read More

              From the 2015 Gallup/PDK poll on education:

              “This year, 51% of Americans gave schools in their own community a grade of either A or B; only 4% gave their schools a failing grade. What’s most interesting is how consistent these grades have been during the last 10 years. Since 2005, the percentage range of A’s and B’s has gone as low as 45% and as high as 53%. In fact, the variance in the grades has not changed much even over the last 25 years. This is a remarkable finding when you consider the multitude of reports questioning the quality of American education.”

              You might say opinions on the professionalism of teachers, if outside the profession, is “in the mind of the beholder.” If 51% are giving their local schools an A or B that is a direct reflection of what they think of the teachers. A very small group feel differently, so trying to draw distinctions between public attitudes towards teachers in Finland and the US is probably a pretty aimless pursuit. What may be different can be found in the last sentence (above) and that is the public’s perceptions are “remarkable” considering the beating teachers and their unions take in the media, from draconian efforts of billionaires, and the always present “schools suck industry.”

              Pasi Sahlberg, whom it appears you’ve just discovered, is quite upfront about the critical role teachers’ unions play in Finland. They are critical to enacting any kind of meaningful reform because the unions are the ear, as well as the voice, of teachers. There are numerous places in the US where districts and unions collaborate, in the Finnish model, much to the advantage of the students. (See my article on “Reforms That Work” for specific examples.) Pasi is also quite upfront about the essential changes Finland made in order to close their achievement gaps and improve learning which coincides with high performance on international tests. Finland chose to emphasize economic equity, supporting Finnish families and children, and the high achievement followed along like a puppy. This meant dynamic government spending to create a seamless social services network, an idea that in this country drives conservatives and libertarians to feel faint. Somehow in the US, school age children, sans government supports, are supposed to improve marriage rates on their own, invest in the stock market to improve their economic standing, open 401K account so they won’t need pensions, Social Security, or Medicare (all scary socialist concepts), and perhaps buy a condo on Maui so they can escape poverty ravished neighborhoods. So we have choices ahead of us, we can choose real reforms that work like Finland and various communities in the US have embraced, or we can continue to rant and wag our fingers at the poor while spouting cliches from old Ayn Rand fantasies. Like I said: choices.

        • CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

          Parent, I understand that teachers in Finland are unionized and do consider themselves to be in the same profession as unionized American teachers. Their jobs can be quite different because Finland has very little child poverty and a strong social safety net. And unlike American teachers, they are respected and not disdained, ignored, blamed, disparaged, etc. Finland's top education official, Pasi Sahlberg, often speaks out on American education issues; his views are in sync with … Read More

          Parent, I understand that teachers in Finland are unionized and do consider themselves to be in the same profession as unionized American teachers. Their jobs can be quite different because Finland has very little child poverty and a strong social safety net. And unlike American teachers, they are respected and not disdained, ignored, blamed, disparaged, etc. Finland’s top education official, Pasi Sahlberg, often speaks out on American education issues; his views are in sync with Diane Ravitch’s and he strongly opposes most of the currently vogueish “reform” policies, strategies and practices. I saw him speak in San Francisco on a program with Ravitch.

          • Parent 10 months ago10 months ago

            Great, I always thought it would be a good idea for teachers from Finland to come to California and start their own charter schools with their own Finnish teachers union. Maybe those would be charter schools that your Diane Ravitch friend would support.

            • CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

              Some charter critics oppose the entire concept until it's completely overhauled on the basis that charter schools do harm to district schools. The charter sector used to vehemently deny that, but it really no longer does. Since the hypothetical Finnish teachers would be leaving a nation where their profession is admired and respected, and immigrating to a nation where teachers are widely heaped with contempt and hostility, it's hard to imagine that many would want … Read More

              Some charter critics oppose the entire concept until it’s completely overhauled on the basis that charter schools do harm to district schools. The charter sector used to vehemently deny that, but it really no longer does.

              Since the hypothetical Finnish teachers would be leaving a nation where their profession is admired and respected, and immigrating to a nation where teachers are widely heaped with contempt and hostility, it’s hard to imagine that many would want to come here. Plus they would have to deal with oppressive “reform”-sector policies and practices that are disliked by teachers and are unknown in Finland, plus a lack of resources, a high-poverty school population in a nation with a weak social safety net that places enormous responsibilities on teachers for dealing with the resulting problems, and I could keep going on and on. Gosh, they’d surely be flocking here.

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              Parent: It appears that you have not been paying quite as close attention to the writing of Pasi Sahlberg as you implied. Pasi actually wrote an article, available online of you care to look, about bringing Finnish teachers to America. Here is an excerpt of his writing" "To finish up, let’s do one theoretical experiment. We transport highly trained Finnish teachers to work in, say, Indiana in the United States (and Indiana teachers would go to Finland). After … Read More

              Parent:

              It appears that you have not been paying quite as close attention to the writing of Pasi Sahlberg as you implied.

              Pasi actually wrote an article, available online of you care to look, about bringing Finnish teachers to America. Here is an excerpt of his writing”

              “To finish up, let’s do one theoretical experiment. We transport highly trained Finnish teachers to work in, say, Indiana in the United States (and Indiana teachers would go to Finland). After five years—assuming that the Finnish teachers showed up fluent in English and that education policies in Indiana would continue as planned—we would check whether these teachers have been able to improve test scores in state-mandated student assessments.

              I argue that if there were any gains in student achievement they would be marginal. Why? Education policies in Indiana and many other states in the United States create a context for teaching that limits (Finnish) teachers to use their skills, wisdom and shared knowledge for the good of their students’ learning. Actually, I have met some experienced Finnish-trained teachers in the United States who confirm this hypothesis. Based on what I have heard from them, it is also probable that many of those transported Finnish teachers would be already doing something else than teach by the end of their fifth year – quite like their American peers.

              Conversely, the teachers from Indiana working in Finland—assuming they showed up fluent in Finnish—stand to flourish on account of the freedom to teach without the constraints of standardized curricula and the pressure of standardized testing; strong leadership from principals who know the classroom from years of experience as teachers; a professional culture of collaboration; and support from homes unchallenged by poverty.”

      • Don 11 months ago11 months ago

        Vergara isn't an all-encompassing solution to the teacher quality issue. It might help or it might not, irrespective of how the lawyers on each side of the issue presented the case. It is, in point of fact, a solution to legal question - a challenge to the constitutionality of the employment statutes in question. Brown v. Board,too, was a constitutional challenge. It didn't end segregation per se, only the smaller institutional … Read More

        Vergara isn’t an all-encompassing solution to the teacher quality issue. It might help or it might not, irrespective of how the lawyers on each side of the issue presented the case. It is, in point of fact, a solution to legal question – a challenge to the constitutionality of the employment statutes in question. Brown v. Board,too, was a constitutional challenge. It didn’t end segregation per se, only the smaller institutional component of it. Does that mean Brown V. Board was wrong or unnecessary? No. Rome was not built in a day.

        • navigio 10 months ago10 months ago

          I think Brown was very different. It didn’t end up being about statutes per se (segregation was actually legal at that point), nor even about their side-effects. In fact, it forwent the whole notion of needing to argue side-effects because what it did was change the very definition of equality. Only then did segregation become ‘unconstitutional’.
          V, in contrast, is ‘merely’ about technical definitions and their ostensible side-effects.

  10. Paul Muench 11 months ago11 months ago

    It would be interesting to know if teachers at William Faria elementary in Cupertino changed much in their teaching methods. Almost all students at this school met or exceeded standards, as they did on the prior standards. Or is this result simply a proxy for wealth independent of what teachers do.

  11. Gary Ravani 11 months ago11 months ago

    So what we know, for this first round is that wealthier kids are doing better on state tests than poor kids. Call me Cpt. Renault when I say "I'm shocked!" The majority of CA's second language population is Hispanic, which is a proxy for living in poverty. Asians, though there are significant variation in Asian sub-groups, tend to be the wealthiest ethnic subgroup in the state. According to census officials Asians are the wealthiest immigrant group … Read More

    So what we know, for this first round is that wealthier kids are doing better on state tests than poor kids. Call me Cpt. Renault when I say “I’m shocked!”

    The majority of CA’s second language population is Hispanic, which is a proxy for living in poverty. Asians, though there are significant variation in Asian sub-groups, tend to be the wealthiest ethnic subgroup in the state. According to census officials Asians are the wealthiest immigrant group in the history of the US.

    There are some rather unrealistic expectations that don’t match (as is the normal course of events) what research tells us about second language acquisition, and the years necessary for acquiring academic level language skills, so the implication that CA is somehow behind the curve in education that population are not reality based. No education system of any nation on Earth has huge success with that population.

    Success with the poor and second language population will take time and resources. Maybe the schools will get those, but maybe not. CA does not have a good track record here. There are reforms that can help narrow test measured gaps, but they conflict with what the billionaire class wants to see happen; that is, to undermine teachers’ professional rights and undermine teachers’ unions abilities to campaign for needed resources. So it is all a challenge.

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