Thursday, December 08, 2005

Indiana gets an A for Science Standards

At a recent meeting in Indianapolis, State Superintendent for Public Instruction, Dr. SueEllen Reed, was overviewing Indiana's academic progress. Governor Mitch Daniels replied that the LA Dodgers had improved too, but they play in a weak division.

Indiana was recently one of 6 states in the US given an "A" rating for it's Science standards.

I was trying to figure out which weak division that is...


At Thursday, December 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you REALLY so ignorant of education issues that you do not know the difference????? Yes, we have some of the best standards in the country. But even the reviewers make clear that standards are only the first step in a long process -- moving next to assessments, then to accountability and ultimately to performance. It is EASY to have the best standards in the country and still have poor performance against the content of those standards. READ THE REPORT IF YOU'RE GOING TO ACTUALLY CITE IT!!!!

Gov Daniel's comments were referring to performance. And the evidence there is clear. The U.S. has some of worst science scores among industrialized countries. (I am sure it will take just moments before you offer some excuse or simply deny these basic, indisputable facts.)

If you don't know the difference between standards, testing, accountability and performance, then you ought forfeit your superintendent license IMMEDIATELY!

At Thursday, December 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calm down and read this...

At Thursday, December 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Annonymous, your post reminds me of a great quote one of my old teachers used quite alot. "You throw a rock into a pack of dogs... and the one that yelps the loudest is the one that got hit."

'Nuf said.

Concerned Parent

At Thursday, December 08, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

While I was typing a response to Anonymous I, other folks made my points. I never mentioned league "standings." If you want to talk about league standings look at the link provided by Anonymous II. It shows that Indiana 4th graders, if they were their own country, would have been third in the world. If the world is a "weak division" what galaxy then is the governor referring to?

The answer is pretty clear. Elements of the governor's party (used to be my party too - along with many of my educator colleagues - till recently ) have a vested interest in denying all progress of Indiana schools.

Maybe because they had no part in helping improve them.

At Thursday, December 08, 2005, Blogger EdWonk said...

It's good to be on the upper end of any grading scale, but I often like to evaluate the evaluator. What are your thoughts about The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in general? (This is the organization that the newspaper article cites)

Earlier today, I used this link over to Fordham (where one can access each state's reports) from our own post.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

It seems a little odd sometimes to see the conservative think tanks like Fordham endorsing more federal control over education while promoting charters and vouchers at the same time. Maybe the agenda is to use more federal control for the purposes of ranking and rating every state to death.

The constitution never mentions education - leaving it to the states as a responsibility. But now some conservatives are trying to use MORE federal control as a means to some end. I guess the point is to force total federal control over education so we can deregulate it with vouchers? (Make sure you ssssquint up one eye when you say that)

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous long tail said...

Thanks, Super, for pointing out the "logic" of Anonymous I who starts out talking about Indiana state standards and then immediately jumps to national levels of performance (without providing any links to back up his or her claim) as a means of bashing Indiana students, staff and yourself.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always appreciate the reasoned thoughtfulness of what appears to be supporters of the Governor.

They always seem to lay out such a well documented case to support their position.

I mean, you have to admit it is hard to argue with 5 question marks and 4 exclamation points.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Data from the TIMSS Benchmarking Study (1999), quoted regularly here and elsewhere:

Countries that outscored Indiana in Math: Singapore, Korea, Chinese Taipai, Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Canada, Slovenia, Russian Federation, Australia, Finland, Czech Republic, Malaysia.

Countries that outscored Indiana in Science: Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Australia, Czech Republic, England, Finland, Slovak Republic, Belgium.

Countries that Indiana outscored in Math: Bulgaria, Latvia, England, New Zealand, Lithuania, Italy, Cyprus, Romania, Moldova, Thailand, Israel, Tunisia, Macedonia, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, Chile, Phillipines, Morocco, South Africa.

Countries that Indiana outscored in Science: Slovenia, Canada, Hong Kong, Russian Federation, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Latvia, Italy, Malaysia, Lituania, Thailand, Romania, Israel, Cyprus, Moldova, Macedonia, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Tunisia, Chile, Phillipines, Morocco, South Africa.

Yes, Indiana scored above the U.S. and International averages -- among those countries that actually participated. But given these lists, is that something to be excited about?

Isn't this precisely the point that the governor was making? That even though we beat the U.S. national average, our "division" is not doing well compared to the entire "league?" And note, a lot of countries, many of which score higher in other camparisons, are not even listed here.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standards: Excellent

Performance on those standards: Well below where they need to be

Unfortunately, the moderator still has not demonstrated that he understands the difference.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

Oh, I think I understand the difference between standards and performance on standards. But maybe you can help me out. Everyone can learn given enough time and practice. :-)

The public school bashers always say performance is "well below where it needs to be."

So tell me, where does Indiana's performance "need to be?" And if it was "where it needs to be" where we would we rank?

Rankings, are useful as a measuring stick on certain narrowly defined measures. But they don't measure well all the things that made America great. Ingenuity, Creativity, Entrepreneurialship....Plus, the difference between the performance of #1 and #5 might be virtually nonexistant in a practical sense such as how the American economy is doing.

All we ever hear is how we are losing our "economic superiority!" We must score better on international test XYZ before the Japanese, whoops the Chinese, whoops India," moves ahead of us on the economic front. The same cry has been going up for many decades. If we keep pushing too many narrow standardized test measurements and overblown NCLB rules down school children's throats - it will eventually come true.

There appears to be a disconnect between our ranking on how well 13 year-olds choose to bubble in answer sheets on a humid afternoon in May - and what America's worldwide economic status is. A disconnect some choose not see.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lies damn lies and standardized test results... the fuel of new politics.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous historian said...

But then again, Super, it is tough to excel without anyone pushing states to challenge themselves and push their own standards higher on a consistent basis. Throughout our nation's history, it has often been the case that a vocal minority has raised awareness and challenged the majority to change. Without those who demand that we be aware of and challenged by countries such as Japan, India and China, there is a real risk of the United States failing to recognize when our standards fall behind those of other countries, thus risking our future economic validity in the world. We can't always rely on the fact that the U.S. has always met every economic challenge that it has faced, or we guarantee ourselves to find the challenge that we can't meet.

Also, I have to question any ranking that relies on a test that is solely defined by the unit that is being ranked. How do I know that us beating Tunisia in math scores really means that Tunisians are less able to perform in the world of work in that area? Also, how do I know the same for Slovenia being ranked ahead of us? In agreement with the Super, let's just continue to push ourselves to continuously raise standards, and live up to our own possibilities as a state and country.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. When the rankings that you quoted helped support your bashing of the governor, they were good reliable rankings. But now that someone has dived a little deeper and given you more information than, apparently, you had considered in the past, now these rankings are flawed?

As for the moderator's question, "where does Indiana need to be." How about you tell us, since you clearly have some strong beliefs on the question. Specifically, which countries that currently rank above us do you think it is "okay" to have that way? Even if these rankings are for raw knowledge and do not include the characteristics that you mention, is it still okay, for example, that Japan, Belgium, Canada and others all do better than us? And if you really belive that, are you willing to come out from your veil to state such things publicly? How about a nice editorial, where all can see and judge, which says, "It's okay that our kids know less about math than Canadians. In fact, here's why..." The people who say it's NOT okay have been quite willing to do so publicly (as did the governor). Are you willing to do the same?

I doubt it.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Water Tower Tim said...

I have always enjoyed this blog. The give and take on educational issues is generally, well, educational, and the Super's humor is appreciated.

I particularly enjoy this discussion. As a layperson, I don't know too much about statistics except that they can be manipulated.

Since the Super is in the educational community, it stands to reason that he would be interested in presenting research or data that will cast students and schools in a positive light.

OTOH, for whatever reason, apparent supporters of Mr. Daniels seem to want to put schools and students in a negative light.

All things being equal, both sides would kind of cancel each other out in terms of their influence. However, in this discussion, there is one major difference. I have no reason to believe, or evidence that anything the Super has said is in anyway less than 100% honest. I trust him.

The Governor, on the other hand has made it plain that he will say whatever suits his agenda, whether it is true or not. He will change positions on time zones and then deny his original statements. He will make misleading statements about school construction. Until the Governor and the rest of his administration decides that honesty is a good policy, I, for one, will take everything he or any of his supporters say with an eighty pound bag of Morton's Pellets.

Advantage to the Super on this one.

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Merry Christmas said...

I think it's a hoot when an anonymous poster challenges someone else to "go public."

Can you say "hypocrite?"

At Friday, December 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some random thoughts:

1) The moderator sets the tone and he is the one who has chosen to have this "dialogue" anonymously. He is quite willing to attack public officials who make their statements openly; but as a public official himself, he hides. Why is that? Does he lack confidence in what he is saying?
2) You don't have to be a "supporter of the governor" to have agreement with some of the things he says; or to disagree with the ad hominem attacks that occur here regularly.
3) If "water tower tim" is willing to believe Super only because he is an educator, I wonder how he judges regular disputes between school district administrators and school union officials.
4) Did "water tower tim" also believe school administrators when they told the public that 91% of Hoosier students graduate? Does he STILL believe that nonsense?
5) When "water tower tim" dismisses the governor's construction data, I wonder what source he considers accurate? The governor used data give to the feds by the Indiana Department of Education. Did Suellen Reed lie to the feds?
6) Why can't education discussions ever stay on topic? Super attacked the governor for being critical of science performance in Indiana. Anonymous provides data on a study mentioned by someone else, and the discussion turns to everything EXCEPT science performance. If Super has evidence to show that Indiana students are doing well, why not just offer it?
7) Educators like Super continue to call NCLB a "federal mandate." But all it says is that a portion of federal money (a TINY percentage of total education spending) must be used on parent-driven tutoring and choice if the public school can't help their students improve. If that's such an onerous mandate, then why don't schools, districts and states just give up the money?
8) Seriously, which countries are okay if they do better than the U.S.? I'd really like to know. So would Super's parents and other constituents, I'm sure.
9) I just love how educators like Super love to tout Indiana's standards, but they adamently oppose any accountability for actually reaching those standards.
10) This is just too easy, like shooting goldfish. It's almost fun. But how sad for the community where Super and his supporters practice this nonsense.

At Saturday, December 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Federal Government provides about six percent of the total dollars going into the funding for public education. THat six percent has bought them 90% of the control. Like drug dealers, they give you a freebie, get you hooked, and then if you do not do what they say, they threaten to take it away. This has more to do with money and power to dictate the behavior of others that any other altruistic reason you can imagine. It boils down to who is going to be able to force their will on the others.

The fact is, education is a state responsibility. Read the 10th amendment. The politicians have usurped state authority, and all the states, except for the folks in Utah, are willing to do is buy into the ideas expressed by that revered Hoosier, Bobby Knight and his statement to Connie Chung..."If rape is inevitable, lay back and enjoy it!"

At Saturday, December 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, school supers and other bureaucrats are so drunk on money that they can't pass up a dime -- even if they think that dime will ultimately cost them a quarter (or more). Money is really all that matters to them.

If school achievement mattered, then they would have adopted the goals of NCLB before the feds mandated them. What is so nuts about requiring schools to make improvement? And if they don't make improvement, then allow someone else (like parents) to direct a small portion of the federal money. That is what all this debate is about; but listening to people like Super would make you think the feds were actually running his district (choosing curriculum, hiring people, writing budgets, building facilities, running the buses). None of that is even touched by NCLB.

Moreover, all NCLB did was to add in a weak accountability system for the performance measures that had been in place for over a decade -- but which few schools followed and the states did not enforce. AND, the accountability is based on standards set individually by each state, using tests chosen by each state.

Totally agree on the notion that education ought to be left to the states. But if the feds are going to dump money into these state and local systems, then there ought to be accountability for some outcomes from that money. And if no outcomes are forthcoming, then the money ought to go away (imagine the screaming then) or be used in another way (the tact of NCLB).

At Saturday, December 10, 2005, Anonymous water tower tim said...

Some random responses:
1. If Anonymous is so confidant in his posts, then he should identify himself.
2. If the Governor or his supporters don't like attacks, ad hominen or otherwise, he shouldn't have run for governor. He was elected as governor, for crying out loud, not king. And if he doesn't like the heat, he can always go to another room where the temperature is more to his liking. Otherwise it's just whining. Besides, he has been known to throw a few logs on the fire from time to time. But don't come to this or any other blog and whine about "attacks" on the governor. You'll get no sympathy from me.
3. I don't know where Anonymous lives, but there must be regular disputes between that Superintendent and school union officials. I don't think that is a big problem in most schools. If there were to be one, I would go to someone that I know I could trust to be honest with me. I definitely would not go to someone who I knew to be less than totally honest.
4. Graduation rates. Yeah, there's an issue that ranks right at the top of my list. That is a topic that is a "made up" issue of concern only to pundits and partisan politicians. The fact that you even bring the issue up tells me a lot about you. Who cares other than to fabricate an issue that you can use to bash schools?
5. You tell me why educational issues can't stay on topic. It seems to me that Republicans everywhere now are "swiftboating" every issue. Is there good news about standard? Attack performance. Good news about performance? Attach the "division." Whatever happens, attack, attack, attack. I guess it worked for Bush, so keep trying, maybe it will work for you.
6. Which countries are better than Indiana or the U.S. in test scores? Granted, that is an important issue, but until my kids can graduate and make a six figure income in taking standardized tests, I will continue to be more concerned that they learn things that will help them be successful in the real world. Test scores measure one thing. There are vast areas that can't be measured by test scores. To place inordinate focus on that one area is shortsighted and could even be counter productive. Besides, something tells me that my kids are being exploited by politicians for political gain. I find that abhorrent.

More later.

At Saturday, December 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfect. Test scores don't matter. Rankings don't matter. Dropouts don't matter. The governor always lies. Republicans always lie. Complete dismissal of the veterans who served honorably on our swiftboats. Anyone who runs for office deserves ad hominem attacks (except, I am sure, when "water tower tim" actually likes the politician!). Call the governor a liar but demonstrate a complete unwillingness to back up the claim with facts. Dismiss those who present facts as the people who "change the subject."

I can't wait to see "more later." For those with a truly open mind, I doubt anything more need be said.

At Saturday, December 10, 2005, Anonymous water tower tim said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And all superintendents and bureaucrats are fat hogs feeding at the federal money trough, drunk on all those dimes.

Some people are interested in debate and discussion. Others are interested in playing rhetorical games where you take someone's statements and exaggerate them and then challenge that person to defend the exaggeration. I'm not really into rhetorical games.

But you're welcome to keep trying.
Not only that, but you get the last word. How's that for sportsmanship?

At Saturday, December 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh bummer. I really was looking forward to more of your non-rhetorical, non-exaggerated comments. Things like: test scores don't matter, the governor always lies, Republicans "swiftboat every issue" and dropout rates are a "made up issue." I'm really sorry to have driven you away with boring discussions of standards vs performance, actual data on student performance, specific requests for clarification of your comments, debunking of NCLB myths, etc, etc.

Maybe our next exchange can go a little better. In the meantime, thanks for that tip about all superintendents being "fat hogs." I really hadn't heard that one until now. And given how you hate rhetoric and exaggeration, I guess I'm left with no choice but to assume it is true.

At Sunday, December 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The epitaph of the baby-boomer generation will be that they did things there way...even though it may run the country into ruin. We see it in national politics with both sides of the two party system using a win at all costs, take no prisoners attitude, and we see it on this blog. If you can't deal with message, you shoot the messenger. People need to grow up and see the bigger picture.

We prepare for battle...wait for the enemy to advance...we look into their eyes, is us!


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