Monday, June 25, 2007

The State of Education: Lack of Measurement Standards by Akindele Akinyemi


Does the lack of clearly-communicated educational standards for grading Tyrone in math cause his parents to be un-informed about how he is really doing, and therefore there is higher satisfaction of many parents with schools despite low achievement of Tyrone - - which means Tyrone gets pushed less by his parents to achieve - - and, Tyrone's future is at risk?
Research indicates that both the number of courses taken and the level of performance in math impact students' future job prospects and earnings. This is the case for those who enter college and those who enter the job market. Yet, 86 percent of eighth-graders (to copy one example) cannot consistently solve math problems typically taught at the upper elementary school level.
Despite this low achievement, a majority of parents of eighth grade students surveyed for the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) believed that their own child's school was doing a good job of preparing students for further education. 75 percent of parents of the lowest achieving students on the math test believed that their children's schools were doing a good job of preparing students for high school. Parents have to rely primarily on grades to determine how much their children are learning--and according to the grades, their children are doing well.
That was almost 20 years ago. Do you really believe this trend has changed in our city? I do not think so.
The U.S. spends more per student than any other G-8 nation, yet our 13-year-olds came in last on science and math achievement tests given to virtually all students in those countries.
Interestingly, American 9-year-olds outscored their foreign counterparts on science a test given before they are taught this subject in school.
We can see a clear view of what 'society' believes by looking at poll after poll - - a ground-swell (as more become aware of hard data) for significantly higher quality and accountability, than is now the case.
Here is a Question for those who oppose educational choices: How do parents in DPS know if report cards filled with A's & B's mean their children are learning what they should in the eighth grade (for example)? How do parents judge whether their children's eighth grade classes are challenging or mediocre without some clearer achievement standard than now provided? Do others agree with this situation? Are teachers of math given a clear standard that must be met without exception to validate an A grade vs. an F grade, such that parents can tell what is happening? What if anything is being done about it? What should be done? [we all want Tyrone to have a lucky future, but he and his parents are being short-changed without clear, measurable and openly communicated results against true standards of performance that equate anywhere].
HUGE PERCENTAGE OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES NEED REMEDIAL WORK. Additional evidence of poor output quality is the fact that those students who graduate from DPS almost 60% of students need remediation. In Florida a study shows at least 70% of recent high school graduates need remedial courses when they enter community college - - in other words, they need to learn material they should have mastered in public high school - but did not - - costing an extra $59 million per year.
That averages out to two-thirds of high school diplomas are bogus - despite record per student spending! Suppose parents had that data for their own school district while their kids were still in school? But, do they know how to ask the proper question.
LACK OF QUALITY MEASUREMENT & REPORTING OF EACH SCHOOL: We have seen the long-term data showing the dramatic rise in non-teaching employees per 100 students which has exploded inflation-adjusted per student spending. One would expect with all those non-teaching employees there would be plenty of labor to provide to the school board (and parents & taxpayers in the district) annual reports which track the school's various audited quality measurements of the past decades up to today - - and their targets for each of the next 5 years.
How we can look at preserving the Detroit Public School System.
Our present Detroit Public School system, despite escalating spending per student, has seen declining and intolerable educational attainment.

All enterprises work to satisfy their client/customers. The basic incentives, in public education, to improved performance are wrong. The public school client/customer is the educational bureaucracy.

In private schools the client/customer is the parent and this is why private schools out perform public schools. Because public school students are assigned by the school system to their schools their is no competition to satisfy the client/customer, the parent.
Can you see the difference? Ask yourself of those who oppose expanding educational choices in Detroit are they for the educational bureaucracy or are they for the parents?
We know from experience in the private economy that free market competition drives costs down and quality up. We need to create a market driven educational system with the emphasis on improving the quality of education. To accomplish this, parents must have free choice on where to send their children to school including vouchers so that they will have the financial where with all to actually exercise this free choice.
Secondly parents must have available to them, objective data on the quality and performance of all schools so they can make an informed choice.
To accomplish this we need to do the following:
Close down the Federal Dept. of Education and discontinue all federal regulatory involvement in education. Send the money back to the local communities via a tax reduction equivalent to the cost of this department - about $35 billion dollars.

Encourage states to establish free competition in their educational system via the following or some similar system that provides parental choice and competition:

Change all public schools to a paid tuition system instead of free.

Provide tuition vouchers to all students equal to present average cost per student in the local area. Permit all parents to send their children to the school of their choice, private or public, using these vouchers.

The Governors Association should establish an Educational Assessment Board to establish standard Educational Attainment tests for each grade level - one through 12. These tests, administered annually will permit parents to objectively evaluate each schools performance against all others.
Again, these are just recommendations to improve the quality of DPS.

1 comment:

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