Monday, March 14, 2005

If I ran my business the way you people run schools.......

We get this line a lot from business people. There are so many differences between the two that it isn't even a useful comparison. It's not business - it's school.

Read The Blueberry Story from a businessman turned public school supporter. This is a brief but excellent story that points out one major difference that is difficult to argue about.


At Monday, March 14, 2005, Blogger Joe Thomas said...


At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Blogger EdWonk said...

And they're kids, not merchandise.

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Along those lines ...

In honor of testing and March Madness . . .No Child Left Behind - The Basketball Version

1. All teams must advance to the Sweet 16, and all will win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.

2. All kids will be expected to have the same basketball skills at the same time and in the same conditions. No exceptions will be made for interest in basketball, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities.


3. Talented players will be asked to practice on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in basketball, have limited athletic ability, or whose parents don't like basketball.

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th games.

5. This will create a New Age of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals. If no child gets ahead, then no child will be left behind.

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Anonymous Diane Ravitch, professor of education at NYU in today's NYT said...

Excerpts from her Op-Ed piece in the 3-15 NY Times...

"EVERYBODY who is anybody seems to have decided that the American high school is responsible for the failings of American students. The Bush administration, many governors and even Bill Gates have now called for radical reforms.

Reflecting this growing consensus that the high school is, in Mr. Gates's words, an "obsolete" institution, the governors of 13 states have pledged an overhaul of the high school system, and more are expected to jump on the bandwagon of reform.

It is true that American student performance is appalling. Only a minority of students - whether in 4th, 8th or 12th grade - reach proficiency as measured by the Education Department's National Assessment of Educational Progress.

On a scale that has three levels - basic, proficient and advanced - most students score at the basic level or even below basic in every subject. American students also perform poorly when compared with their peers in other developed countries on tests of mathematics and science, and many other nations now have a higher proportion of their students completing high school.

While the problems of low achievement and poor high-school graduation rates are clear, however, their solutions are not.

To some extent, the present-day comprehensive high school, in which most American students are enrolled, tries and fails to be all things to all students. It does not adequately challenge high-performing students, who get low scores when compared with their peers in other nations.

It does a poor job preparing average students, nearly half of whom need remedial courses when they enter college. And it loses low-performing students, who are likely to drop out while still lacking the skills they need for gainful employment.

Our officials should be lauded for their concern about high school graduation rates. But the governors should scrutinize with great care the popular reforms of the day before imposing them on their states' schools."

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quoting from above....

It is true that American student performance is appalling. Only a minority of students - whether in 4th, 8th or 12th grade - reach proficiency as measured by the Education Department's National Assessment of Educational Progress.

On a scale that has three levels - basic, proficient and advanced - most students score at the basic level or even below basic in every subject. American students also perform poorly when compared with their peers in other developed countries on tests of mathematics and science, and many other nations now have a higher proportion of their students completing high school.

The facts on Indiana are:

Scored above both national and international averages in the 2003 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS)

In science, Indiana's grade 4 was second highest in the world, only behind Singapore.

No more than 8 states scored significantly higher than Indiana in any category.

Indiana outscored the national average in Grades 4 and 8 in reading and math.

Globally written pieces like that one, kill any intellectual discussion by painting every school
and state with the same brush whether they deserve it or not.

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Blogger Joe Thomas said...

I wonder if those great score in Indiana are in any way related to the fact that you spend twice as much as we do here in Arizona.

Nah... it's probably something else... like having four seasons.

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Anonymous Retired old businessman said...

Those are terrific statistics, so I went to the IN Dept of Education web site to learn more.

I may be reading the info incorrectly, but here's what I found for 2004 ISTEP+ scores:

Grade 4 English/language arts: 27% Did Not Pass.

Grade 4 mathematics: 27% Did Not Pass.

Grade 5 science: 37% Did Not Pass.

Grade 7 English/language arts: 31% Did Not Pass.

Grade 7 mathematics: 26% Did Not Pass.

Grade 9 English/language arts: 30% Did Not Pass.

Grade 9 Mathematics: 29% Did Not Pass.

Grade 10 English/language arts: 29% Did Not Pass.

Grade 10 Mathematics: 33% Did Not Pass.

"Passing scores for the tests (Grades 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10) were recommended by Indiana’s Education Roundtable and adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education."

How does this correlate with the TIMSS data?

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indiana Super

I am not sure how they correlate with TIMSS.

Just remember that pass rates can be set anywhere people want them to be set. Setting pass rates is a political/social issue not just an instructional issue.

People change tests and curriculums so much that it is a wonder that any comparisons can be made.

Try turning those "failure rates" around and see how they sound.

27% did not pass = 73% pass

That's on the first try. At the 10th grade students get to try again before graduation. All but a handful of students in our school end up passing.

At Wednesday, March 16, 2005, Anonymous Old retired guy said...

I don't mean to quibble with you, but aren't the passing scores for each test recommended by an independent Board of 32 members, 17 of which are educators or teacher's union reps?

Honorable Kent Adams
State Senator

Ms. Connie Blackketter
State Board of Education

Ms. Judy Briganti

Mr. Kevin Brinegar
Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Micah Clark
American Family Association of Indiana

Dr. Otto Doering
Purdue University Faculty

Mr. Stephen Ferguson
Executive Vice President,
Cook Group, Inc.

Mr. Jerry Funkhouser
Past President
Indiana Association of School Principals

Dr. Hans Giesecke
Independent Colleges of Indiana

Mr. David Goodrich
President, CEO
Central Indiana Corporate Partnership

Mr. Grant Hawkins
c/o Criminal Court 5, W305

Dr. Adam Herbert
Indiana University

Mr. Patrick Kiely
President, CEO
Indiana Manufacturers’ Association

Ms. Mickey Lentz
Vice President
Office of Catholic Education

Ms. Teresa Lubbers
State Senator

Mr. Robert Marra
Associate Superintendent for Exceptional Children
Department of Education

Dr. Tom McKaig
Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents

Dr. John Moore
President Emeritus
Indiana State University

Mr. John Myrland
Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Benjamin Ramsey
Executive Director
Indiana State Building and Construction Trades Council

Mr. Patrick O'Rourke
President, Hammond Teachers Federation

Mr. Twyman Patterson
Past President, Indiana School Boards Association

Honorable Greg Porter
State Representative

Honorable Earline Rogers
State Senator

Honorable Sue Scholer
State Representative

Mr. Jerry Semler
Chairman American United Life

Mr. David Shane

Mr. Daniel Tanoos
Vigo County School Corporation

Ms. Dianna Wallace
Indiana Commission for Early Learning and School Readiness

Ms. Joyce Wehneman
Indiana Professional Standards Board

Dr. Eugene White
Washington Township Schools

Ms. Mary Williams
Indiana Parent Teacher Association

Don't we rely on their judgment as to what a student should minimally know at each grade? Do you feel they have set the bar too high? Do the scores imply that 20-30% at each grade level gets "social promotions" into the next grade without a passable understanding of the subject matter?

At Wednesday, March 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No - I don't really think the bar is too high. I just am continually surprised that people act angry and disappointed with schools when they see a certain percentage of students below the cut scores.

The actual setting of cut-scores is fairly complex and involves many people. The groups you mention that approve cut scores are still operating on a professional recommendation of other people - usually teachers at that grade level.

My point is that it is still a social/political decision not a scientific one. There is no biological body of science to indicate what students should know about a certain subject, by a certain date. This is dependent on societal norms and these are changing annually. Look at the Post on this website called "Why educators feel burdened" and follow the links. You will see the expectations of society that have made it more difficult for teachers to close the gaps in reading and math.

The difficulty is that students do not grow and develop evenly. They grow mentally and physically in spurts and (some might even say "fits".) :-) Those who have had children can see it before their very eyes.

The idea that every single child should be at a certain place on a curriculum continuum by the same time of a certain standardized test defies human development. Doesn't mean we shouldn't test, it just means we shouldn't be surprised when we realize that not everyone passed the cut score.

Plus, these limited tests do NOT measure human POTENTIAL. There are many highly succesful Americans and entrepreneurs (sp?) who were not great students at school. A standardized test for English and Math is too one dimensional to predict future success.

Why in the world is ANYONE, ....ANYONE, surprised to know that 27% of students didn't pass a certain test given at a certain time. It makes as much sense as saying all basketball players will be 6 feet 2 inches tall by age 16 or they will be failing.

Those that fall in the 27% who didn't meet the cut score are tutored and retaught skills and we try to catch them up. But, when they start school behind they actually have to learn FASTER than the FAST learners in order to catch up. This fact seems lost to everyone but the teachers.

At least at the 10th grade level the students get multiple chances to pass the test so they have a little time to "catch up."

At grades 3-9 they just get a newer, more difficult test the next year.

We can close some of these GAPS. The secret? Take the students from Art, Music, PE, Social Studies and other classes to receive double Reading and double Math and alternative teaching methods.

The problem, most parents don't really want this.

Don't believe me? Watch your local school board squirm when the board room is packed with angry parents over cuts in the fine arts program.

Students will actually be getting less help in core areas AND in the fine arts under the current legislatures philosophy.

At Wednesday, March 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your response makes sense to me...and depresses me.

I'm grateful I've always been able afford to send my kids to private school. As a parent I'm actively involved with the school -- bringing in outside speakers, raising money, helping coach, substitute teaching, etc. It is a deeply engaging, very satisfying experience -- for me and my children.

Sadly, the situation in the public schools sounds completely horrible for everyone -- the teachers, principals, parents, school boards and the students.

From listening to the comments of educators and the angry public, it sounds like neither side understands the other or really wants to.

The public school environment just sounds poisonous.

At Wednesday, March 16, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

It's not poisonous.

Public educators are just demoralized. They have gone from respected and trusted, to feeling abused and neglected.

I've been in the business many years and I can tell you that schools in my area are doing a better job than I have ever seen with tougher students.

I am amazed at the miracles that I see every day.

At Wednesday, March 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the public school environment is anything but poisonous. Consider that every year millions of public high school graduates enter college and the workforce better prepared for life than the previous years' graduates. They go on to become proud members of a society that constantly strives to improve.

The public education system is one in which a child with no other advocates in the world can attend on a daily basis and get a good meal and have an opportunity to get an education which will allow them to compete with anyone in the world.

It's great for students who have parents who advocate for them either in private or public school. But public school teachers stand ready, willing and able to advocate for the kids that no one else cares about.

At Thursday, March 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry you are depressed about how horrible things must be in public schools. I obviously can't speak for all public schools, but I can say that the experience of my children in public school was overwhelmingly positive. They had great academic opportunities as well as extra-curricular programs in music, athletics, drama, language, etc.

Maybe my experience is not universal, but I would wager that it is more the rule than the exception. I'm glad you and your children are having a great experience in a private school, but I wouldn't trade my experience at our local public school.

At Saturday, March 19, 2005, Blogger EdWonk said...

Since I started serving students in the classroom 13 years ago, I've seen a slow but steady deterioration of how teachers are treated by those that set educational policy.

It's been a long time since I've seen (or heard) the words teacher and empowerment used in the same sentence.

In fact, here in my own California school district, I was present when our district's Superintendent said that "professional educators" were principals and above.

He went on to say that teachers were only "service providers."

I (and a number of others) heard this with our own ears.

This hurtful comment has not been forgotten. And neither has the fact that our Superintendent repeated it on several occasions.

Meanwhile, the public seems to regard teachers and teachers highly.

It's an interesting paradox.

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Anonymous Private School Parent said...

I guess this Blog and most of the other education Blogs I read make the public school atmosphere sound just horrible.

I had a good to public school experience, but that was 30 years ago and I've had little interaction with public schools since.

My husband and I made the decision to send our children to private school based on the harsh rhetoric we hear from both sides.

To the interested observer, it seems like teachers are frustrated, school boards are angry, superintendents are demoralized, politicians are furious and many parents are upset.

We just didn't think that sounded like a setting in which we wanted our children to spend 40% of their waking hours.

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

Private School Parent:

On a daily basis I don't see this demoralized attitude displayed to children. Will I say it never has? No, I am sure it has from time to time. But my own children are going to public schools and I feel like they are getting an excellent education from teachers that care deeply about them.

If you hung around the water cooler in any private industry in American that is going through the throes of change, mergers, consolidations and layoffs, you would hear the same things.

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Anonymous Private School Parent said...

I can't imagine how kids could miss the pervasive angst of today's public education, but maybe they are unaware of it.

You're right about industries going through change, but I certainly wouldn't chose to put my kids in that "industry", if I could avoid it.

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