Posts Tagged ‘
education statistics ’
The following was emailed to Oregon’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Susan Castillo, on 11/07/2011:
Hi Susan – I know you’ve reviewed the most recent NAEP results as have I. The distribution of reading achievement scores for grades four and eight remained essentially unchanged as they have for roughly the last two decades. How can this be? For the last decade, in particular, on a nationwide basis we have spent billions of dollars trying to improve reading achievement. We have spent lavishly on special education, the latest curriculum programs, response to intervention strategies, early childhood literacy programs, staff development programs, technology-based remedial programs – and yet achievement has not improved. Again, how can this be?
The answer is surprisingly straightforward.
In the NEAP results we are seeing the intersection of two controlling variables, differences in cognitive ability among students and the standardization of access to learning.
If you administered a high quality cognitive ability assessment to the same students who took the NAEP reading exam, you would see that the results map to each other to a very high degree. Lower ability students present lower reading achievement and higher ability students present just the opposite.
But if you also overlaid the time provided for learning to these same students you would find it almost identical for all levels of ability – about 6 hours per day for about 180 days per year.
Ability varies (as it always has), yet instruction time is about the same (as it has been for decades). More than three quarters of the variance in test scores can be explained by these factors alone. (more…)
Last week, Dan Jamison and I were invited to help facilitate the Mid-Valley Boys and Girls Club staff retreat in Lincoln City. This Boys and Girls Club serves kids in the Mid-Willamette Valley area within the Albany, Sweet Home and Lebanon school districts and provides a fun, safe and supervised environment for recreational and educational activities. Dan and I were particularly excited about this retreat because Albany and Lebanon happen to be two of our 18 CLASS districts.
Chalkboard was invited to this retreat to provide the Boys and Girls Club with an introduction to the CLASS Project, share current state and federal education policy issues, and also provide a snapshot of some of Oregon’s student data. And we were happy to join, always wanting to build our outreach and share important education-related information with communities throughout the state. This was also a great opportunity for the Boys and Girls Club staff to gain a better understanding of what’s going on with the students and teachers within their school districts—particularly those involved in CLASS.
It also wasn’t hard to say yes to a day at the coast, in Lincoln City where the retreat was held. The day promised to be full of hard work, creative thinking, and a bit of an ocean breeze. And after teaching for 32 years in Albany and serving as a principal at all three levels in the Greater Albany School District, Dan was excited to engage with the club. He even ran into some of his former students!
Over the last several years, critics of public education in the United States have regularly turned to data provided by the Europe-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) through its student assessment initiative, the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA). (Two other international assessment programs similar to PISA have also been implemented. Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) is administered to a sample of 4th and 8th graders every 4 years, including 2011. Progress in International Reading (PIRLS) is administered to a sample of 4th graders every five years, including 2011. The methodologies employed in all three assessments are similar, so comments I make regarding PISA generally apply to the other assessment programs as well.)
Every three years, PISA administers a common assessment to a sample of 15-year-old students in participating countries. In the most recent 2009 cycle, PISA assessments were administered in 65 countries/economies. Each assessment surveys student achievement in three domains: (1) reading literacy, (2) mathematical literacy, and (3) science literacy, with one of these being the primary focus. For the 2009 cycle, the focus was reading literacy with questions in this domain comprising about 60 percent of the assessment.
From these assessment data, individual country profiles describing student achievement are prepared along with various reports seeking to compare achievement across participating countries/economies. The comparison reports have been popular within the United States as a basis for criticizing public education and justifying the call for education reform. Based on average test scores for 2009, the United States ranked 17th in reading literacy, 30th in mathematics literacy, and 23rd in science literacy. These “low” rankings must signal a problem, right? As we shall see, these ranking may or may not be correct, and even if they are, more analysis is needed to understand their significance. Simple rank order displays rarely reveal much about the complexities of student achievement.
The summer weather has finally arrived in Oregon and summer vacation is in full swing. Some kids are camping, some are at summer camp. Many teachers are taking a much-needed break, while others are enrolled in summer courses.
Summer vacation has been a tradition in the United States since the mid-19th century, but as the students of the United States fall behind in reading, math and science, the trend towards year-round education is gaining momentum. Is it possible that summer vacation is a tradition that is doing more harm than good for our children? Could year-round school be the key to improving our struggling public education system?
Public schools in the United States haven’t always had a long summer vacation; in fact, in the 1800s different areas of our country had different school schedules. In the city schools were open as many as 48 weeks a year while rural areas had a summer and winter term for school and a fall and spring break allowing children to help with planting and harvesting on the family farm. In the 1840s, popular educational reformers like Horace Mann proposed a blending of the two schedules citing the belief that year-round school was over-stimulating to children’s minds, but that 2 semesters wasn’t enough. And so it was. The “traditional” calendar was born: a 9 month school year with a long summer break. (Source)
In a blog post a few weeks ago, Liz Hummer wondered if the world uses too much edu-speak, too much jargon. She pointed out that jargon can remove us from what we are really talking about and it can turn people off from becoming part of the conversation.
She was right. Now, more than ever, Oregonians need to be joining the conversation about how we can improve our public education system, not shying away because they don’t have the facts, they can’t fathom the figures, or they aren’t familiar with the terminology.
In fact, many Oregonians aren’t familiar with the jargon of public education and who can blame them? Too many of us think we don’t have the time or the resources to really understand what a state public education budget of $5.7 billion means for our school district, or what a graduation rate of 66% means for the local economy. Even for data junkies, it can be overwhelming to try and find meaningful information. That’s why Chalkboard created the Open Books Project.
A new report suggests that Oregon could benefit from significantly changing its school and district accountability system. The report, commissioned by the Chalkboard Project, Stand for Children, OBA, and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and prepared by Education First Consulting, recommends that Oregon overhaul the indicators used and reported in its current accountability system to include a richer set of information that suggests how well schools are helping students prepare for college and careers.
The report suggests that states with successful accountability systems communicate results effectively, provide meaningful resources to interpret and use accountability results, and base their systems on rigorous college- and career-ready expectations. The authors of the report synthesized promising practices in state accountability systems and compared those identified promising practices to Oregon’s accountability system.
Additional recommendations for Oregon include revamping and streamlining the state’s reporting system, including considering the reporting timeline, the number of reports, and the usefulness of the data to inform instruction and decisions, and exploring the use of incentives to motivate schools and districts to continually improve or to maintain success. The report also recommends that Oregon improve its measurement and use of student growth scores, and suggests adopting the Colorado Growth Model.
Download the full report. For more about Education First Consulting, see www.educationfirstconsulting.com.
The Chalkboard Project is releasing a new report today on the condition of Oregon’s K-12 education system. The report draws on new statistics and makes the case that we need to ensure 1) our high-need students are receiving an equitable education, 2) all of our students are meeting high standards, 3) our school dollars are being spent wisely, 4) our educators are meaningfully evaluated and supported to do their best work in the classroom, and 5) the early years of a child’s education set the foundation for success.
From the press release:
Chalkboard’s K-12 Conditions Report: Oregon Schools Can Improve
PORTLAND-January 14, 2010- Oregon’s K-12 schools are mediocre and risk getting left behind schools across the country.
The state’s schools could especially improve when it comes to educating students of color and those from low-income families. And all Oregon students, and families, deserve better.
Those are among the stark findings in the non-profit Chalkboard Project’s latest report on the condition of K-12 education in Oregon.
“We are quickly approaching a crisis point for our state’s schools and students,” says Chalkboard Project President Sue Hildick. “As Oregon enters another difficult budget year, we must look closely at how we are spending our education dollars and whether or not we are getting the results we need. We know we have hard-working, committed educators, great schools doing amazing things for students, and engaged families who want to see their students do well, but as a state we have to ensure that ALL students have the opportunity to succeed in a global environment.”
A primary goal for the Chalkboard Project is to help push Oregon’s schools into the top 10 among all states. Chalkboard’s K-12 Condition Report for 2010 underlines the areas where the state needs to focus its efforts in order to move towards that goal of excellence.
In the early 2000s, Oregon was in the top tier among all states in its eighth-grade reading and math scores. By 2009, Oregon’s eighth-grade scores had fallen to the middle of the pack. In the early 2000s, Oregon was in the middle of the pack among all states in its fourth-grade reading and math scores. By 2009, the state’s fourth-grade scores had fallen to the bottom tier of states. Oregon’s scores are not getting worse; other states are improving more quickly.
Chalkboard’s Condition Report notes other challenges:
· About 45 percent of Oregon K-12 students were part of low-income families in 2009, almost twice the percentage of 1998. Yet Oregon schools with the highest proportions of low-income students have less experienced teachers, and lose them more quickly, than other schools.
· High school graduation rates among students of color continue to lag behind those of white students. While 88 percent of white students graduated on time in 2009, only 72 percent of African-American students did.
The K-12 Condition Report also points out practices that we all know can improve the education of our children, including providing the tools and resources teachers need to do their best work in the classroom, strong early childhood education programs, and a commitment by the state to direct funds to programs that shows results. Chalkboard has been an advocate for all of these issues, including lowering K-1 class sizes and providing reading tutors to all K-3 students, as well as piloting new career, evaluation and compensation models for teachers.
“We have seen in districts participating in Chalkboard’s CLASS Project that a commitment to supporting teachers and empowering them to do their best work can have a tremendous impact on student achievement in the classroom as well as on teacher satisfaction and collaboration. We hope that the K-12 Condition Report makes the case that we need to build on such successes, encourage educators to lead the way, and put our education system on a clearer path to excellence,” Hildick says. “Pockets of success cannot overcome funding instability and resistance to change; transformation has to happen at the state level.”
Chalkboard’s K-12 Condition Report is available at: http://www.chalkboardproject.org/images/PDF/Chalkboard_cond_final.pdf.
More information about the CLASS Project is at: http://educators4reform.org
After the LA Times published effectiveness rankings of 4th and 5th grade teachers in the Los Angeles School District earlier this year, there has been much public debate over the use of value-added models (VAM). A VAM is intended to be a statistical analysis of a teacher’s effect on student achievement, taking into account a student’s past performance and expected academic growth. While discussions of VAM are not new to educators or policy wonks, a group from the Brown Center for Education Policy at the Brookings Institute recently released a report on some of the questions and concerns surrounding VAM.
The report, “Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added,” was produced by the Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality. The task group included: Steven Glazerman, Mathematica Policy Research; Susanna Loeb, Stanford University; Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington; Douglas Staiger, Dartmouth University; Stephen Raudenbush, University of Chicago; and Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, The Brookings Institution.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- Whether value-added information should be a component of teacher evaluation is a different question than how teacher evaluations impact human resource policies and decisions.
- Much of the concern with VAM is over the fear that an effective teacher could be misclassified as ineffective; yet, in many other professional fields, we readily accept that evaluations are not 100% fool-proof and that imprecise measures are often used to make “high stakes decisions that place societal or institutional interests above those of individuals.”
- “…the interests of students and the interests of teachers in classification errors are not always congruent…” While there is rightfully concern over effective teachers being misclassified as ineffective, we also need to weigh this against the consequences for students of labeling ineffective teachers as satisfactory.
- “…all decision-making systems have classification error. The goal is to minimize the most costly classification mistakes, not eliminate all of them.”
- Rather than holding an unrealistic standard of perfection for teacher evaluations, we should compare value-added models to other forms of teacher evaluation and classification. (more…)
Our family dinner conversations over the past year have featured an amusing role reversal. “Dad, did you get your homework done? No screen time until you do.” “Good job on your straight A’s, daddy!”
At age 48, my husband is back at school getting his Oregon teaching certificate. Just before he graduated from college in the 1980s, his Myers-Briggs test had predicted, “You are well suited to be a technology project manager, or a high school science teacher.” Check, and now check. Upon certification in 2011, my spouse hopes to land a position in science or math in an Oregon public school. (more…)
Recent figures released by the National Center for Education Statistics list Oregon public schools as having the fourth-largest class size in the country (See Betsy Hammond’s article in the Oregonian). While this is a horrible statistic and certainly a fact that bodes badly for both our teachers and our students, it made me wonder just where we should focus maximum efforts with minimal dollars.
When I was first working for Chalkboard Project at the Oregon legislature, we advocated for reduced class sizes, but only for kindergarten and 1st grade. (more…)