The Atlanta cheating scandal

It’s not the students who cheated in Atlanta.  It’s the teachers.  And the principals:

Prosecutors are weighing whether to file any criminal charges against 178 Atlanta teachers and principals who state investigators said had cheated on standardized tests to inflate student scores.

The cheating in 2009, found in 44 of the 56 Atlanta public schools examined, was prompted primarily by pressure to meet targets in a data-driven environment, a statement released by Governor Nathan Deal’s office said.

“A culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation existed in Atlanta Public Schools, which created a conspiracy of silence,” the state report concluded. The 2009 cheating was said to include teachers erasing incorrect answers on state standardized tests.

Deal’s office said on Wednesday that the decision of whether or not to prosecute would be up to district attorneys in the three Georgia counties where the educators live. . . .

Eighty-two teachers and principals have confessed to the cheating, according to the state report. Deal’s office said six principals refused to answer questions.

“These principals, and 32 more, either were involved with or should have known that there was test cheating in their schools,” the investigation found.

The report concluded that there was a “major failure of leadership throughout Atlanta Public Schools with regard to the ethical administration” of the 2009 standardized exams known as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

Cheating occurred as early as 2001, and warnings several years ago of misconduct were ignored, the report said.

via Prosecutors to review widespread cheating in Atlanta schools | Reuters.

I know what is going to happen:  The educators will blame the standardized testing required by  the “No Child Left Behind” law.  But what they were really doing was masking their own failures to teach their young students how to read and write.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    This is a scary story on multiple levels: First, that there might be social/familial forces at play that are making today’s children less and less educable. Second, that the teachers’ superiors would be unable to recognize that what they were requiring of the teachers was not realistically attainable (or, alternatively, unable to provide such conditions for the teachers as would make the testing goals attainable.). Finally, that the teachers didn’t have the moral fortitude to not cheat. It strikes me that the best response from the teachers would have been to tell the administration “given the present level of resources, these testing goals cannot be achieved,” although I imagine they probably tried this. Not many “good guys” in this news item.

  • Pete

    This is a scary story on multiple levels: First, that there might be social/familial forces at play that are making today’s children less and less educable. Second, that the teachers’ superiors would be unable to recognize that what they were requiring of the teachers was not realistically attainable (or, alternatively, unable to provide such conditions for the teachers as would make the testing goals attainable.). Finally, that the teachers didn’t have the moral fortitude to not cheat. It strikes me that the best response from the teachers would have been to tell the administration “given the present level of resources, these testing goals cannot be achieved,” although I imagine they probably tried this. Not many “good guys” in this news item.

  • Carl Vehse

    It’s just another form of affirmative action.

  • Carl Vehse

    It’s just another form of affirmative action.

  • Dennis Peskey

    My dear departed father told me when your choo-choo goes off the tracks, don’t start your investigation in the caboose. Allow me to unpack this bit of wisdom.

    In 1999, Dr. Beverly Hall was appointed Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. In 2010, she was awarded the AASA (American Assoc. of School Administrators) National Superintendent of the Year award for the impressive gains registered by the Atlanta Public Schools. She departed her position that year to accept a position with the AASA.

    I offer the following snipet from an article posted on the AASA website (http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=17160&terms=beverly+hall):

    “Hall and others in Atlanta refer to their own decade-long drive to reorient their district’s priorities as “flipping the script.” As that phrase implies, anything short of an all-hands effort with sustained backing from district leaders probably won’t work and may even hurt in driving a learning improvement agenda.

    Emerging evidence is showing that the struggle can be worth it over time. Hall, the 2010 National Superintendent of the Year, has credited her district’s restructuring work — coupled with a strong emphasis on greatly improving principal training — with making possible the most impressive NAEP reading-score gains by any urban district from 2002 to 2009, along with growth in its graduation rate from 39 percent to 69 percent during the same period.”

    Now, my dear daddy also taught me when people fail to follow, it’s because leaders fail to lead and this caution: If it looks like it, smells like it and tastes like it – don’t step in it. Apparently, in the previous decade there has been an overabundance of fertilizer spread upon the Atlanta Public School system. Given the obvious “major failure of leadership” coupled with “a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation existed in Atlanta Public Schools” perhaps the award was a bit premature. Even this old country boy knows what direction skubala flows.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    My dear departed father told me when your choo-choo goes off the tracks, don’t start your investigation in the caboose. Allow me to unpack this bit of wisdom.

    In 1999, Dr. Beverly Hall was appointed Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. In 2010, she was awarded the AASA (American Assoc. of School Administrators) National Superintendent of the Year award for the impressive gains registered by the Atlanta Public Schools. She departed her position that year to accept a position with the AASA.

    I offer the following snipet from an article posted on the AASA website (http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=17160&terms=beverly+hall):

    “Hall and others in Atlanta refer to their own decade-long drive to reorient their district’s priorities as “flipping the script.” As that phrase implies, anything short of an all-hands effort with sustained backing from district leaders probably won’t work and may even hurt in driving a learning improvement agenda.

    Emerging evidence is showing that the struggle can be worth it over time. Hall, the 2010 National Superintendent of the Year, has credited her district’s restructuring work — coupled with a strong emphasis on greatly improving principal training — with making possible the most impressive NAEP reading-score gains by any urban district from 2002 to 2009, along with growth in its graduation rate from 39 percent to 69 percent during the same period.”

    Now, my dear daddy also taught me when people fail to follow, it’s because leaders fail to lead and this caution: If it looks like it, smells like it and tastes like it – don’t step in it. Apparently, in the previous decade there has been an overabundance of fertilizer spread upon the Atlanta Public School system. Given the obvious “major failure of leadership” coupled with “a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation existed in Atlanta Public Schools” perhaps the award was a bit premature. Even this old country boy knows what direction skubala flows.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • MarkB

    I guess then that the teachers have failed their students and to hide that they cheated. So who loses? The children directly affected first, the parents, the taxpayers and other children that have not cheated or “helped” with cheating by others.

  • MarkB

    I guess then that the teachers have failed their students and to hide that they cheated. So who loses? The children directly affected first, the parents, the taxpayers and other children that have not cheated or “helped” with cheating by others.

  • Carl Vehse

    Here are some excerpts from Volume 1 of Special Investigation into CRCT Cheating at APS: Overview, Interviews, School summaries:

    Superintendent Beverly Hall and senior staff knew, or should have known, that cheating and other offenses were occurring. Many of the accolades, and much of the praise, received by APS over the last decade were ill-gotten.

    We identified 178 educators as being involved in cheating. Of these, 82 confessed. Thirty-eight of the 178 were principals, from two-thirds of the schools we examined. The 2009 erasure analysis suggests that there were far more educators involved in cheating, and other improper conduct, than we were able to establish sufficiently to identify by name in this report. [p. 2]

    There was a failure of leadership throughout APS with regard to the ethical administration of the 2009 CRCT. There are two main reasons for this failure. Dr. Hall’s insular style and her isolation from the rank-and-file was a major factor. ln addition, Dr. Hall and her top managers refused to accept responsibility for anything other than success. As Dr. Hall’s Chief of Staff, Sharron Pitts, explained to us, “nobody ever wants to take responsibility for anything” in APS.

    Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine oversaw daily classroom instruction, and operated as the de second-in-command. She told us that she should not be held responsible for cheating that took place in APS classrooms under her authority.

    While this may be an appropriate defense to criminal charges, it is an absurd leadership concept. Dr. Hall and her senior cabinet accepted accolades when those below them performed well, but they wanted none of the burdens of failure. [p. 3]

    Some excerpts from Volume 3: Conclusions: Why cheating occurred and cover-up allegations:

    Three primary conditions led to widespread cheating on the 2009 CRCT:

    - The targets set by the district were often unrealistic, especially given their cumulative effect over the years. Additionally, the administration put tmreasonable pressure on teachers and principals to achieve targets;

    - A culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation spread throughout the district; and,

    - Dr. Hall and her administration emphasized test results a.11d public praise to the exclusion of integrity and ethics.

    The unreasonable pressure to meet annual “targets” was the primary motivation for teachers and administrators to cheat on the CRCT in 2009 and previous years. Virtually every teacher who confessed to cheating spoke of the inordinate stress the district placed on meeting targets and the dire consequences for failure. Dr. Hall articulated it asi “No exceptions. Nc excuses.” If principals did not meet targets within three years, she declared, they will be replaced and “I will find someone who will meet targets.” Dr. Hall replaced 90% of the principals during her tenure. Principals told teachers that failure to improve CRCT scores would resultin negative evaluations or job termination. The unambiguous message was to meet targets by any means necessary. [pp. 350-351]

    Dr. Hall stood to financially gain based on whether the district met targets. Over the years, she received tens of thousands of dollars based on the reported CRCT results. [p. 353]

    The monetary bonus for meeting targets provided little incentive to cheat. But fear of termination and public ridicule in faculty and principals meetings drove numerous educators to cross ethical lines. Further, because targets rose annually, teachers found it increasingly difficult to achieve them. After a few years of increases, teachers found the targets unattainable and resorted to cheating. Multiple years of test misconduct in the district compounded the level of cheating that was required annually to not only match the prior year’s false scores but also to surpass them. The gap between where the students were academically and the targets they were trying to reach grew larger. [p. 355]

    Hall, her senior staff, and various superintendents need to do some long hard prison time, but since they’re Holder’s people, they won’t.

  • Carl Vehse

    Here are some excerpts from Volume 1 of Special Investigation into CRCT Cheating at APS: Overview, Interviews, School summaries:

    Superintendent Beverly Hall and senior staff knew, or should have known, that cheating and other offenses were occurring. Many of the accolades, and much of the praise, received by APS over the last decade were ill-gotten.

    We identified 178 educators as being involved in cheating. Of these, 82 confessed. Thirty-eight of the 178 were principals, from two-thirds of the schools we examined. The 2009 erasure analysis suggests that there were far more educators involved in cheating, and other improper conduct, than we were able to establish sufficiently to identify by name in this report. [p. 2]

    There was a failure of leadership throughout APS with regard to the ethical administration of the 2009 CRCT. There are two main reasons for this failure. Dr. Hall’s insular style and her isolation from the rank-and-file was a major factor. ln addition, Dr. Hall and her top managers refused to accept responsibility for anything other than success. As Dr. Hall’s Chief of Staff, Sharron Pitts, explained to us, “nobody ever wants to take responsibility for anything” in APS.

    Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine oversaw daily classroom instruction, and operated as the de second-in-command. She told us that she should not be held responsible for cheating that took place in APS classrooms under her authority.

    While this may be an appropriate defense to criminal charges, it is an absurd leadership concept. Dr. Hall and her senior cabinet accepted accolades when those below them performed well, but they wanted none of the burdens of failure. [p. 3]

    Some excerpts from Volume 3: Conclusions: Why cheating occurred and cover-up allegations:

    Three primary conditions led to widespread cheating on the 2009 CRCT:

    - The targets set by the district were often unrealistic, especially given their cumulative effect over the years. Additionally, the administration put tmreasonable pressure on teachers and principals to achieve targets;

    - A culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation spread throughout the district; and,

    - Dr. Hall and her administration emphasized test results a.11d public praise to the exclusion of integrity and ethics.

    The unreasonable pressure to meet annual “targets” was the primary motivation for teachers and administrators to cheat on the CRCT in 2009 and previous years. Virtually every teacher who confessed to cheating spoke of the inordinate stress the district placed on meeting targets and the dire consequences for failure. Dr. Hall articulated it asi “No exceptions. Nc excuses.” If principals did not meet targets within three years, she declared, they will be replaced and “I will find someone who will meet targets.” Dr. Hall replaced 90% of the principals during her tenure. Principals told teachers that failure to improve CRCT scores would resultin negative evaluations or job termination. The unambiguous message was to meet targets by any means necessary. [pp. 350-351]

    Dr. Hall stood to financially gain based on whether the district met targets. Over the years, she received tens of thousands of dollars based on the reported CRCT results. [p. 353]

    The monetary bonus for meeting targets provided little incentive to cheat. But fear of termination and public ridicule in faculty and principals meetings drove numerous educators to cross ethical lines. Further, because targets rose annually, teachers found it increasingly difficult to achieve them. After a few years of increases, teachers found the targets unattainable and resorted to cheating. Multiple years of test misconduct in the district compounded the level of cheating that was required annually to not only match the prior year’s false scores but also to surpass them. The gap between where the students were academically and the targets they were trying to reach grew larger. [p. 355]

    Hall, her senior staff, and various superintendents need to do some long hard prison time, but since they’re Holder’s people, they won’t.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Teacher’s unions…you gotta love ‘em.

    (what am I sayin’? NO YOU DON’T!)

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Teacher’s unions…you gotta love ‘em.

    (what am I sayin’? NO YOU DON’T!)

  • SKPeterson

    This reminds me of the “No Bobby Left Behind” episode of King of the Hill where the principal improves his school’s test scores by having several students classified as “special needs” thereby exempting them from any testing.

  • SKPeterson

    This reminds me of the “No Bobby Left Behind” episode of King of the Hill where the principal improves his school’s test scores by having several students classified as “special needs” thereby exempting them from any testing.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I love “King of the Hill”

  • Steve Billingsley

    I love “King of the Hill”

  • DonS

    Every time you see a teacher’s union ad claiming that it’s for the children, think of this episode. And do everything in your power to ensure that we parents always have the right to direct the education of our children so that we will have the opportunity to remove our kids from a bad public school.

    Also, it’s never about spending more money, as the unions and administrators would have you believe. It’s about spending the available money properly — ensuring that good and caring teachers and administrators are recruited, rewarded, and retained, that bad teachers and administrators can be promptly removed, and that the schools are accountable to the local community, not the federal or state education bureaucracy. Eliminate mandated politically correct curriculum, ensure that the basics are taught and reinforced, and eliminate these national diagnostic testing protocols and the funding that goes with them, which just lead to this temptation to cheat.

  • DonS

    Every time you see a teacher’s union ad claiming that it’s for the children, think of this episode. And do everything in your power to ensure that we parents always have the right to direct the education of our children so that we will have the opportunity to remove our kids from a bad public school.

    Also, it’s never about spending more money, as the unions and administrators would have you believe. It’s about spending the available money properly — ensuring that good and caring teachers and administrators are recruited, rewarded, and retained, that bad teachers and administrators can be promptly removed, and that the schools are accountable to the local community, not the federal or state education bureaucracy. Eliminate mandated politically correct curriculum, ensure that the basics are taught and reinforced, and eliminate these national diagnostic testing protocols and the funding that goes with them, which just lead to this temptation to cheat.

  • helen

    Taking the credit (and bonus) at the top and the blame at the bottom can happen without teachers’ unions.
    When I considered going back to teaching, after my children were out of school, I took a course for “retreads” in a nearby school district.
    I soon discovered that the classroom teacher was expected to be responsible for all the problems we sent to the Principal in my first life as a teacher.
    [My daughter told me, "You will not like it. You will expect students to want to learn, and most of them won't."] Between one thing and the other, I understood why so many teachers were getting out at minimum retirement age.

    SK, it doesn’t help that so many “special needs” children have been put back into the regular classroom. Even with a personal aide, they can disrupt the class. So thirty students lose to give one a “normal” education!

  • helen

    Taking the credit (and bonus) at the top and the blame at the bottom can happen without teachers’ unions.
    When I considered going back to teaching, after my children were out of school, I took a course for “retreads” in a nearby school district.
    I soon discovered that the classroom teacher was expected to be responsible for all the problems we sent to the Principal in my first life as a teacher.
    [My daughter told me, "You will not like it. You will expect students to want to learn, and most of them won't."] Between one thing and the other, I understood why so many teachers were getting out at minimum retirement age.

    SK, it doesn’t help that so many “special needs” children have been put back into the regular classroom. Even with a personal aide, they can disrupt the class. So thirty students lose to give one a “normal” education!

  • John C

    Don, I don’t know how to say this kindly but I disagree with just about everything you have written.
    I often do.

  • John C

    Don, I don’t know how to say this kindly but I disagree with just about everything you have written.
    I often do.

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Out here in CA the LA Unified School district spends $24,000 dollars a year for each student. Private Schools in the area run at $8,000 to $12,000 a year with elite school charging $15,000 per year.
    This tells me that money isn’t the problem.

    Also note that LAUSD has it’s very own police department.

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Out here in CA the LA Unified School district spends $24,000 dollars a year for each student. Private Schools in the area run at $8,000 to $12,000 a year with elite school charging $15,000 per year.
    This tells me that money isn’t the problem.

    Also note that LAUSD has it’s very own police department.

  • DonS

    John C: You said it kindly enough, and there is nothing wrong with doing so. The purpose of a discussion is to find points of agreement and disagreement on a particular issue, consider the viewpoints of those who disagree, and any new issues or points you may not previously have thought of, and evaluate whether one’s own thinking should be modified or reinforced based on that discussion.

    So, what, specifically, do you disagree with, John? That parents have the right to remove their child from a bad public school? That the reason these teachers and administrators cheated was to improve their school and district-wide test scores so that they could obtain additional funding? That the cheating was for the purpose of enriching the teachers and administrators, and protecting their jobs, and actually harmed the children? That being accountable to the parents and local community will benefit schools more than accountability to federal and state bureaucrats, whose only nexus to that particular school is a report of test scores that may be bogus? That mandating politically correct curriculum, such as the brand new California law requiring that the accomplishments of homosexuals and transgenders be included in the curriculum, detract from teaching basic educational subjects, because there are only so many hours in the teaching day? (By the way, how do we know who was gay 100 years ago, or even 30 years ago? Maybe we’re already doing this, without singling them out for their private sexual practices?)

    Which of them, John? Or, I guess, all of them, given your comment? Explain, if you would.

  • DonS

    John C: You said it kindly enough, and there is nothing wrong with doing so. The purpose of a discussion is to find points of agreement and disagreement on a particular issue, consider the viewpoints of those who disagree, and any new issues or points you may not previously have thought of, and evaluate whether one’s own thinking should be modified or reinforced based on that discussion.

    So, what, specifically, do you disagree with, John? That parents have the right to remove their child from a bad public school? That the reason these teachers and administrators cheated was to improve their school and district-wide test scores so that they could obtain additional funding? That the cheating was for the purpose of enriching the teachers and administrators, and protecting their jobs, and actually harmed the children? That being accountable to the parents and local community will benefit schools more than accountability to federal and state bureaucrats, whose only nexus to that particular school is a report of test scores that may be bogus? That mandating politically correct curriculum, such as the brand new California law requiring that the accomplishments of homosexuals and transgenders be included in the curriculum, detract from teaching basic educational subjects, because there are only so many hours in the teaching day? (By the way, how do we know who was gay 100 years ago, or even 30 years ago? Maybe we’re already doing this, without singling them out for their private sexual practices?)

    Which of them, John? Or, I guess, all of them, given your comment? Explain, if you would.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Speaking as a quality engineer by trade, it seems to me that what’s being learned here is what any ISO coordinator learns very quickly; if at all possible, you do NOT allow people to audit their own work. The temptation to cheat is just too great.

    In the same way, people around me know to watch out for the “turnaround artist,” which is what Dr. Hall is. More or less, for a short period of time, a turnaround artist can threaten people into “doing something,” and the “beauty” of the arrangement is that once the turnaround is “successful,” the turnaround artist goes on to bigger and better things and isn’t around when it becomes apparent what “doing something” meant.

    (or they get fired, but with a huge golden parachute)

    Of course, the person who wrote most of “Most Children Left Behind”, Teddy Kennedy, never worked an honest day in his life, so he can be excused for not knowing these things.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Speaking as a quality engineer by trade, it seems to me that what’s being learned here is what any ISO coordinator learns very quickly; if at all possible, you do NOT allow people to audit their own work. The temptation to cheat is just too great.

    In the same way, people around me know to watch out for the “turnaround artist,” which is what Dr. Hall is. More or less, for a short period of time, a turnaround artist can threaten people into “doing something,” and the “beauty” of the arrangement is that once the turnaround is “successful,” the turnaround artist goes on to bigger and better things and isn’t around when it becomes apparent what “doing something” meant.

    (or they get fired, but with a huge golden parachute)

    Of course, the person who wrote most of “Most Children Left Behind”, Teddy Kennedy, never worked an honest day in his life, so he can be excused for not knowing these things.

  • Jonathan

    I’m sorry for these kids, their teachers, their parents, their communities. I hope none read most of the comments here, though I suspect many already know the contempt the religious right has for their jobs, race, unions.

    I can’t and don’t defend the cheating. But public schooling isn’t a sin; it can be a very difficult place to learn and teach. Any one who can afford Christian academies and colleges, and homeschooling, for his kids should read about problems in our public schools with a heavy heart, not with pompous glee.

  • Jonathan

    I’m sorry for these kids, their teachers, their parents, their communities. I hope none read most of the comments here, though I suspect many already know the contempt the religious right has for their jobs, race, unions.

    I can’t and don’t defend the cheating. But public schooling isn’t a sin; it can be a very difficult place to learn and teach. Any one who can afford Christian academies and colleges, and homeschooling, for his kids should read about problems in our public schools with a heavy heart, not with pompous glee.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Jonathan, nobody here showed any contempt for anyone’s job or race, and if the NEA defends this kind of thing or tries to deflect responsibility, they deserve every bit of contempt they get for it.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Jonathan, nobody here showed any contempt for anyone’s job or race, and if the NEA defends this kind of thing or tries to deflect responsibility, they deserve every bit of contempt they get for it.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 15: First, what’s race got to do with it? Second, it’s not just the teachers, or the NEA. It’s also the administration, school boards, and most of all and the state and federal education bureaucracies that have brought this kind of madness to our formerly very good local public education system.

    You should feel sorry for the kids, parents, and communities. The kids are the losing pawns in this grand experiment with bureaucratized, centralized public education. The parents and community have lost the right and ability to have influence over the education of their children through their loss of local control.

    It’s very sad.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 15: First, what’s race got to do with it? Second, it’s not just the teachers, or the NEA. It’s also the administration, school boards, and most of all and the state and federal education bureaucracies that have brought this kind of madness to our formerly very good local public education system.

    You should feel sorry for the kids, parents, and communities. The kids are the losing pawns in this grand experiment with bureaucratized, centralized public education. The parents and community have lost the right and ability to have influence over the education of their children through their loss of local control.

    It’s very sad.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Any one who can afford Christian academies and colleges, and homeschooling, for his kids should read about problems in our public schools with a heavy heart, not with pompous glee.

    No one here has pompous glee. More like disgusted at the deplorable dishonesty and abuse of students and public trust. We would be happy for these kids to be able to get vouchers to go to Christian academies.

    Those of us who can afford to pay for private schools are also paying high taxes to support the public schools. We relieve the system of teaching our kids and pay for other people’s kids. We are being scammed.

    Anyway, really they need to look at other assessments, like NAEP, to see what actual achievement may be.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Any one who can afford Christian academies and colleges, and homeschooling, for his kids should read about problems in our public schools with a heavy heart, not with pompous glee.

    No one here has pompous glee. More like disgusted at the deplorable dishonesty and abuse of students and public trust. We would be happy for these kids to be able to get vouchers to go to Christian academies.

    Those of us who can afford to pay for private schools are also paying high taxes to support the public schools. We relieve the system of teaching our kids and pay for other people’s kids. We are being scammed.

    Anyway, really they need to look at other assessments, like NAEP, to see what actual achievement may be.

  • John C

    Don, you did not provide evidence for you assertion that public education is failing.
    You suggest the ‘basics’ are not being taught but you do not cite any evidence.
    You suggest that good and caring teachers are not being recruited, retained or rewarded but once again where is the evidence.
    You assert that a school board of butchers, bakers and candle stick makers is superior to a central authority but it remains unclear why this is so. ( the New South Wales Education Department is one of the biggest government departments in the world. It seems to function relatively efficiently)
    There’s plenty of research going on in education, Don. Go and have a look at it.

  • John C

    Don, you did not provide evidence for you assertion that public education is failing.
    You suggest the ‘basics’ are not being taught but you do not cite any evidence.
    You suggest that good and caring teachers are not being recruited, retained or rewarded but once again where is the evidence.
    You assert that a school board of butchers, bakers and candle stick makers is superior to a central authority but it remains unclear why this is so. ( the New South Wales Education Department is one of the biggest government departments in the world. It seems to function relatively efficiently)
    There’s plenty of research going on in education, Don. Go and have a look at it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It seems New South Wales has noticed that the
    population has a strong influence on performance.

    How might the students of New South Wales perform in the Atlanta public schools? Probably the same as they do in NSW.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It seems New South Wales has noticed that the
    population has a strong influence on performance.

    How might the students of New South Wales perform in the Atlanta public schools? Probably the same as they do in NSW.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Don, you did not provide evidence for you assertion that public education is failing.”

    It is failing to eliminate the achievement gap.

    Given the amount of data collected and the amount of effort expended to address it across many diverse programs, it appears unlikely that any amount of effort within a school’s walls can mitigate against it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Don, you did not provide evidence for you assertion that public education is failing.”

    It is failing to eliminate the achievement gap.

    Given the amount of data collected and the amount of effort expended to address it across many diverse programs, it appears unlikely that any amount of effort within a school’s walls can mitigate against it.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    John, if you can’t find evidence that government education is failing, I would have to assume that you’re not reading the papers. One point of reference is that the average graduate of Chicago Public (government) schools reads at a sixth grade level, and 40% do not graduate at all. I would presume that the situation is similar in Atlanta and most other large cities. Large portions of people coming out of secondary schools cannot read and write well enough to fill out an employment education.

    So if you’re not convinced that government education is failing, again, you’re not reading the papers.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    John, if you can’t find evidence that government education is failing, I would have to assume that you’re not reading the papers. One point of reference is that the average graduate of Chicago Public (government) schools reads at a sixth grade level, and 40% do not graduate at all. I would presume that the situation is similar in Atlanta and most other large cities. Large portions of people coming out of secondary schools cannot read and write well enough to fill out an employment education.

    So if you’re not convinced that government education is failing, again, you’re not reading the papers.

  • Carl Vehse

    Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall earned $344,331 in 2009, and received a performance bonus of $78,100.

    Given the damage Hall did to a decade of Atlanta school children, for which Atlanta and the nation will suffer for a generation, this woman (and her cohorts) should spend the rest of her days in prison, preferably in solitary confinement.

  • Carl Vehse

    Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall earned $344,331 in 2009, and received a performance bonus of $78,100.

    Given the damage Hall did to a decade of Atlanta school children, for which Atlanta and the nation will suffer for a generation, this woman (and her cohorts) should spend the rest of her days in prison, preferably in solitary confinement.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 22

    Teachers are failing to educate because they haven’t broken the barriers that the public irrationally demands they overcome. They have failed to produce students that are all above average. They have not been able to create a score distribution which is outside the normal range.

    We could make the same complaints about research scientists who have yet to eliminate mortality.

    I agree that spending more money will not increase student achievement. However, we need to have programs to educate or train the 50% of people who are below average. We need vocational ed and job placement services especially for those who will never pass these arbitrary tests.

    We tell students the inane and cruel lie that they can be whatever they want. This is not true and leads to far more problems than helping students transition from training to gainful employment.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 22

    Teachers are failing to educate because they haven’t broken the barriers that the public irrationally demands they overcome. They have failed to produce students that are all above average. They have not been able to create a score distribution which is outside the normal range.

    We could make the same complaints about research scientists who have yet to eliminate mortality.

    I agree that spending more money will not increase student achievement. However, we need to have programs to educate or train the 50% of people who are below average. We need vocational ed and job placement services especially for those who will never pass these arbitrary tests.

    We tell students the inane and cruel lie that they can be whatever they want. This is not true and leads to far more problems than helping students transition from training to gainful employment.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think I’m with SG (@24) on this one.

    Bubba says (@22) “the average graduate of Chicago Public (government) schools reads at a sixth grade level, and 40% do not graduate at all”, but this makes me wonder: what percentage of students should graduate from high school? I would guess that, if it weren’t compulsory, 60% of the population wouldn’t do that. So is that an improvement? And again, historically, what was the average reading level of an 18-year-old? Was it what we now call “sixth-grade level”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think I’m with SG (@24) on this one.

    Bubba says (@22) “the average graduate of Chicago Public (government) schools reads at a sixth grade level, and 40% do not graduate at all”, but this makes me wonder: what percentage of students should graduate from high school? I would guess that, if it weren’t compulsory, 60% of the population wouldn’t do that. So is that an improvement? And again, historically, what was the average reading level of an 18-year-old? Was it what we now call “sixth-grade level”?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Probably the reason these folks got caught was that they increased scores too much. Let’s say eraser happy Miss Smith changed on average three wrong answers per test to right answers. The jump in scores would be huge. However, if she had only changed a more modest average of about one wrong answer to right, the scores would have been better, of course, even significantly, but not stunning. The fact that these ‘educators’ couldn’t figure that out shows they aren’t that sharp. Dramatic changes draw curiosity. If they had not been cheating that would have been welcome. But since they were cheating, well then, no.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Probably the reason these folks got caught was that they increased scores too much. Let’s say eraser happy Miss Smith changed on average three wrong answers per test to right answers. The jump in scores would be huge. However, if she had only changed a more modest average of about one wrong answer to right, the scores would have been better, of course, even significantly, but not stunning. The fact that these ‘educators’ couldn’t figure that out shows they aren’t that sharp. Dramatic changes draw curiosity. If they had not been cheating that would have been welcome. But since they were cheating, well then, no.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD; regarding the average reading level, historically, of an 18 year old, you probably need to be more specific than that. After all, the average 18 year old through the history of the world is illiterate. And the average 10 year old, the average 40 year old, the average 50 year old…..

    But that said, I’d suggest that an adult ought to be able to read significant books like the Bible, and even with the NIV, that’s a 7th grade reading level. About the same reading level is needed to fill out an employment application; filing one’s own taxes is much higher. So I’d argue that most citizens really need to read and write at at least a high school level.

    Along those lines, there are a number of indications that the historic reading level of Americans is at the high school level or above–writings by de Toqueville and others, draft records of the number of draftees rejected for illiteracy, and so on. The trend towards higher illiteracy started in the 1930s, when large numbers of schools replaced phonics based reading instruction with whole language.

    Agreed, by the way, that one of the chief problems of the schools is that they have hundreds of deliverables and no coherent scheme. That said, I don’t see the NEA and AFT pushing a back to basic curriculum and phonics, sadly.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD; regarding the average reading level, historically, of an 18 year old, you probably need to be more specific than that. After all, the average 18 year old through the history of the world is illiterate. And the average 10 year old, the average 40 year old, the average 50 year old…..

    But that said, I’d suggest that an adult ought to be able to read significant books like the Bible, and even with the NIV, that’s a 7th grade reading level. About the same reading level is needed to fill out an employment application; filing one’s own taxes is much higher. So I’d argue that most citizens really need to read and write at at least a high school level.

    Along those lines, there are a number of indications that the historic reading level of Americans is at the high school level or above–writings by de Toqueville and others, draft records of the number of draftees rejected for illiteracy, and so on. The trend towards higher illiteracy started in the 1930s, when large numbers of schools replaced phonics based reading instruction with whole language.

    Agreed, by the way, that one of the chief problems of the schools is that they have hundreds of deliverables and no coherent scheme. That said, I don’t see the NEA and AFT pushing a back to basic curriculum and phonics, sadly.

  • Carl Vehse

    The low academic levels in the Atlanta schools for which Superintendent Hall, her staff, and many principals and teachers gave the appearance of improving by resorting to cheating are probably connected to the discussion and comments in a 2009 Cranach thread, “Education and Fathers.”

  • Carl Vehse

    The low academic levels in the Atlanta schools for which Superintendent Hall, her staff, and many principals and teachers gave the appearance of improving by resorting to cheating are probably connected to the discussion and comments in a 2009 Cranach thread, “Education and Fathers.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@27), you’ve made a number of quasi-specific claims now:

    The average graduate of Chicago Public (government) schools
    reads at a sixth grade level, and 40% do not graduate at all (@22)

    The historic reading level of Americans is at the high school level or above. … The trend towards higher illiteracy started in the 1930s (@27)

    Um, [citation needed].

    But you can answer this without any statistics or studies: what percentage of students should be graduating from our public high schools, and what should their average reading level be?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@27), you’ve made a number of quasi-specific claims now:

    The average graduate of Chicago Public (government) schools
    reads at a sixth grade level, and 40% do not graduate at all (@22)

    The historic reading level of Americans is at the high school level or above. … The trend towards higher illiteracy started in the 1930s (@27)

    Um, [citation needed].

    But you can answer this without any statistics or studies: what percentage of students should be graduating from our public high schools, and what should their average reading level be?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    But that said, I’d suggest that an adult ought to be able to read significant books like the Bible, and even with the NIV, that’s a 7th grade reading level. About the same reading level is needed to fill out an employment application; filing one’s own taxes is much higher. So I’d argue that most citizens really need to read and write at at least a high school level.

    I know this is hard to face, but it really doesn’t help much to define what students need to be able to do if they don’t have the ability to do it.

    Here is a link to a table that shows a standard distribution and the related scores on various popular tests etc. Scroll to bottom.
    http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/iq.htm

    There is no getting around the fact that many many students are not going to be able to meet certain standards. It doesn’t matter that someone else somewhere else is or was able to do it. ‘Should’ and ‘is’ are not related. We have to deal with what we actually have. We can’t social engineer teachers to make students have more ability than God gave them. Further those who are more able have a moral obligation to help these students get vocational training and transition to their jobs.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    But that said, I’d suggest that an adult ought to be able to read significant books like the Bible, and even with the NIV, that’s a 7th grade reading level. About the same reading level is needed to fill out an employment application; filing one’s own taxes is much higher. So I’d argue that most citizens really need to read and write at at least a high school level.

    I know this is hard to face, but it really doesn’t help much to define what students need to be able to do if they don’t have the ability to do it.

    Here is a link to a table that shows a standard distribution and the related scores on various popular tests etc. Scroll to bottom.
    http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/iq.htm

    There is no getting around the fact that many many students are not going to be able to meet certain standards. It doesn’t matter that someone else somewhere else is or was able to do it. ‘Should’ and ‘is’ are not related. We have to deal with what we actually have. We can’t social engineer teachers to make students have more ability than God gave them. Further those who are more able have a moral obligation to help these students get vocational training and transition to their jobs.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Further those who are more able have a moral obligation to help these students get vocational training and transition to their jobs.”

    And what if those students can’t or don’t want to get vocational training and transition to jobs? Can we social engineer them to want such vocational training and to transition to jobs? Can we even social engineer them to learn how to read if they don’t want to? Or can we social engineer those students into a culture in which they then want to?

  • Carl Vehse

    “Further those who are more able have a moral obligation to help these students get vocational training and transition to their jobs.”

    And what if those students can’t or don’t want to get vocational training and transition to jobs? Can we social engineer them to want such vocational training and to transition to jobs? Can we even social engineer them to learn how to read if they don’t want to? Or can we social engineer those students into a culture in which they then want to?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @31

    There is no guarantee that students will be motivated no matter what the curriculum. However, since school districts are willing to spend huge sums trying to teach the bottom 40%-50% Shakespeare, it seems more reasonable to teach them an actual trade that they could at least potentially use get a job, unlike the stuff they teach now that the kids verifiably aren’t learning.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @31

    There is no guarantee that students will be motivated no matter what the curriculum. However, since school districts are willing to spend huge sums trying to teach the bottom 40%-50% Shakespeare, it seems more reasonable to teach them an actual trade that they could at least potentially use get a job, unlike the stuff they teach now that the kids verifiably aren’t learning.

  • DonS

    sg @ 32: Your point is excellent. However, it’s even worse than you say. There would be nothing wrong with exposing average or below average students to Shakespeare. That is classical literature, and everyone should know something about our culture. But, we’ve moved away from teaching our own western European and American culture in the name of multi-culturalism. For example, in California, if the governor signs the bill, our schools will be required to use that Shakespeare time to teach all students about the “contributions of LGBT individuals to our country”. This is, of course, regardless of whether there were any, whether they were more important than the contributions of straight people, or whether we even know which of our historical figures were LGBT. We live in a crazy and increasingly asinine society.

  • DonS

    sg @ 32: Your point is excellent. However, it’s even worse than you say. There would be nothing wrong with exposing average or below average students to Shakespeare. That is classical literature, and everyone should know something about our culture. But, we’ve moved away from teaching our own western European and American culture in the name of multi-culturalism. For example, in California, if the governor signs the bill, our schools will be required to use that Shakespeare time to teach all students about the “contributions of LGBT individuals to our country”. This is, of course, regardless of whether there were any, whether they were more important than the contributions of straight people, or whether we even know which of our historical figures were LGBT. We live in a crazy and increasingly asinine society.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    My disagreement with the curriculum is that there are almost no job skills taught for folks who won’t be white collar workers. I have nothing against cultural ed, yada yada. I am against the near virtual exclusion of job training programs for people who are vulnerable because they don’t know how to figure out what they should do and get it done in an efficient way so they can be productive for their own good, the good of their families and the community. The whole point of having the community collectively provide universal education is for the benefit of the most vulnerable. The rich and the smart are going to find a way to get educated at least enough to get a job because history shows us they pretty much always have.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    My disagreement with the curriculum is that there are almost no job skills taught for folks who won’t be white collar workers. I have nothing against cultural ed, yada yada. I am against the near virtual exclusion of job training programs for people who are vulnerable because they don’t know how to figure out what they should do and get it done in an efficient way so they can be productive for their own good, the good of their families and the community. The whole point of having the community collectively provide universal education is for the benefit of the most vulnerable. The rich and the smart are going to find a way to get educated at least enough to get a job because history shows us they pretty much always have.


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