Sunday, September 18, 2016

What Should Public Schools Be Doing

Public schools serve many purposes, from helping pass down our common culture (I doubt most people learn the Pledge of Allegiance at home) to reinforcing cultural mores (don't interrupt some who's speaking, don't hit someone else, help others) to, last but not least, teaching academic content.  I'd say that all those things are important, but the last one is the most important and is the justification for spending the billions we do each year on education.

So what do you think of this?
Officially, the “evaluation rubric” adopted by the State Board of Education this month is “an accountability system designed to help all schools continuously improve.”

But by grading schools that serve California’s 6-plus million K-12 students on “10 areas critical to student performance,” the system – whose precise details are yet to emerge – moves away from traditional academic standards into fuzzier areas. And that will likely make it more difficult for parents and the larger public to determine what’s really happening, or not, in the classroom...

Assembly Bill 2548, now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature (unlikely) or veto (more likely) would embrace “multiple measures” but put more emphasis on academic achievement and comply with a new federal school law that requires low-performing schools to be identified.

Brown, taking his cue from Michael Kirst, the state school board’s president, championed an overhaul of school finance that gives districts with large numbers of poor or “English-learner” students extra money to raise their academic performances and close the “achievement gap” to which Weber refers.

Brown and Kirst, however, have been curiously reluctant to adopt tight oversight of how local schools are spending the extra billions and whether they are, in fact, having an academic effect. Brown has cited “subsidiarity” – leaving implementation to local school officials – as his mantra.

Their preferences mesh with those of professional educators and teacher unions, which dislike what they see as the punitive approaches of past state and federal policies.

Without tighter supervision, critics counter, local school officials are under great pressure to spend – or squander – the billions of extra dollars on salary increases and other items that don’t directly benefit what are called “at risk” kids, who are about 60 percent of the state’s students.

There are already indications that the extra money is being siphoned into broader categories of spending and that the “Local Control and Accountability Plans” that districts are adopting to guide spending are wordy, confusing and ineffective.
What are the areas that will be graded?
The accountability system approved by the State Board of Education will rate schools not only on standardized test scores, but also on the progress of English learners, high school graduation rates, college and career readiness and, initially, suspension rates. School districts also will measure campuses for school climate, parent engagement, implementation of state academic standards, services for expelled students and adequate instruction and facilities...

“What we have today is something we haven’t had before ... a mental model,” said board member Patricia Ann Rucker.
Oh, there's something mental here all right.  How do you evaluate schools on career readiness?  What kind of parent engagement will be considered good, and what kind bad?  If no students were suspended, would schools be safer, would academic achievement soar?

This is softheadedness taken to new and dramatic extremes.
The State Board of Education proposal would replace the three-digit API that was suspended in 2013 when the state adopted new standardized tests that adhere to Common Core State Standards. While the score gave communities and education officials an easy way to compare schools, critics said it was too grounded in test scores and ignored other factors that reflect school performance.

Read more here:

Read more here:
Why would you care about any "school performance" except the learning of children?

What must it be like on the logical side of the looking glass?

(I completely altered the last third or so of this post not long after posting it.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of measuring improvement, so those teaching remedial classes aren't punished compared to those teaching AP classes, but I do think there needs to be clear, concrete results to strive for. Vague goals or evaluation measures make only those who can bullshit the best look good instead of actual performers. Also, I like the idea of trying to reduce suspension, but with this approach I'm concerned that they'll avoid giving suspensions when it is needed and the dangerous students will stay a danger.