Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Raise Michigan High School Standards" Updated 5/18/05 - New Yale Report - Tossing the Toddlersl

Lately there have been a number of articles about the shape of Michigan schools regarding funding, state scores (MEAP) and standards. One article that has been on my mind is:

Raise high school standards, economy follows, board told
Education is No. 1 concern, Cherry says
April 13, 2005

Michigan needs tougher academic standards for high schools, Lt. Gov. John Cherry told the State Board of Education on Tuesday.

It's part of a strategy to double the number of college graduates in Michigan within the next decade, which Cherry said would help strengthen the state's economy.

"There's not an issue more basic or important to Michigan's future," Cherry said of education change.

Cherry led a commission that late last year issued several recommendations to increase the number of college graduates. Some of those recommendations fall within the scope of the Michigan Department of Education and the state board, he said.

The board could push the Legislature and local school districts to adopt tougher high school graduation standards, including more math and science classes. Cherry also said he is concerned about the number of high school dropouts and a traditional mind-set that sometimes stifles cooperation between K-12 schools, community colleges and universities.

Board members of both political parties appeared receptive to the Democratic lieutenant governor's presentation. The board already has begun work on some of the recommendations proposed by Cherry's commission.

"We're on the same page, I think," said board President Kathleen Straus, a Democrat.

The state Department of Education put together a high school change team in late 2003. The team's report concluded that the current high school structure is not meeting the needs of students, particularly when it comes to inspiring them to develop skills they'll need in the future.
The panel suggested creating small-scale career academies with employer partnerships to help develop a better work force.

Michigan has joined 12 other states in an effort to strengthen curriculum and graduation standards. The goal is for high school graduates to better satisfy needs of employers and colleges.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has proposed giving schools incentive payments, starting in the 2006-07 academic year, if they encourage more students to follow a curriculum stocked with math, science and foreign languages.

About 26 percent of Michigan's population between the ages of 25 and 34 has a bachelor's degree or higher. The national average is 27.5 percent, and several states have 33 percent or higher.

States with more college graduates tend to have higher average incomes and lower unemployment rates.

"We're talking about a culture change," Cherry said. "We have to adjust to the notion that education needs to go beyond high school."

qualityg asks...

There are many stories on education reform like the one above; it does't have to be just in Michigan, these same problems can be found in most states.

I have some concerns as a concerned citizen, parent, student, educator and taxpayer:

1) Michigan needs tougher standards in order to double the number of college graduates (for those who don't know, people are concerned because many of the college graduates leave the state after graduation for a number of reasons, lack of jobs are at that top of the list). This is the result of a faulty system, not just high school.

2) A commission from last year made some recommendations like pushing the Legislature and Local School Districts to adopt tougher high school graduation standards, including more math and science classes. I loved to be pushed, don't you too?

3) Dropouts are always a concern, I wonder why? Look at the flow below, Dropouts start increasing during the mid to high school levels, associate the cost (10 - 100 - unknown) and it's not hard to figure out the damage that is caused to the student, society, taxes, etc..., basically it drains the budget and educational accountants do not know why.

remembermemeber, Dropouts are the "Effect" of the Root Cause that starts at the beginning of the process where prevention should occur and the cost is relatively small and the student is saved (anybody consider that K-3 teachers should minimuminnimum of 5 years experience, experience and knowledge are required during the critical starting period).

We are losing children at the start of the system, you can band aid all and hold seminars all you want up stream (middle school, junior high and high school) it will not solve this problem when you isolate on one function at a time. I can predict the the solutions - More Studies to figure out what is wrong, how about another state department that investigates "after" the fact as to what is wrong.

Implement "Process" measures people, listen to the "Voice of the Process," we already hear the cries of the "Voice of the Customers." Don't forget "idiotic" solutions like driving fear and threats as a solution so that children will have more negativity that eliminates "Joy of Learning." Perhaps we should drag the dropouts through the streets so that all can see the failures in person, humiliation always works!

4) The Governor is proposing giving incentive payments to schools that provide a stronger math, science and foreign language program. I'm sure that will work, money is not a motivator, never has and never will be.

WOW! I could write all day on this topic:

- I never seem to read by "What Method" will these tasks be done.

- This reminds me of the goals and objectives statements we had where I worked which
sounded good but no one knew how to get it done.

- Am I the only one who sees tougher standards and teaching by tests that may or not be valid as probable causes rather than a solutions?

- Singling out the high school as to where to put these recommendations is insane. Its like conducting quality control inspection "after" the product has been produced. The students
who don't have the skills in high school lost them or never had them in the earlier grads
starting way back to pre-school and kindergarten.

- Why do we continue to look at the school "system" as individual parts? After all it is a
system isn't it? You know, the whole is greater than the parts, and if you don't understand variation you are probably "tampering" with the system instead of helping it. Then again I
hear many speak about "system thinking," but I find few who can apply it.

Without going on and on I would like to show a graphic that illustrates the 1-10-100 Rule

  • Student Model (by qg) CLICK PIC TO ENLARGE

    Think of the 1 as one dollar, the 10 as ten dollars and the 100 as one hundred dollars. The concept is simple when you realize that most problems originate at the beginning of a process/system and grow much larger and complex as they move through the process.

updated 5/18/05 - Tossing the Toddlers

  • See the following report from Yale:

    I use dollars because that is what gets everyone's attention. If we practice prevention and institute requirements or standards at the beginning and continue to set and monitor them as we progress through the school system we can save many dollars (more importantly students). When the child is in middle school and we discover problems it will cost 10 times as much to solve the embarrassing times more embarrasing for the student). In high school it will be 100 times more costly and complex to identify the problem and to solve it (most will drop out rather than repeat a grade or labeled as a failure).

    If we pass a student on early in life that does not meet the standard we are dooming that individual to an impossible task later in his/her school life to catch up and succeed. Putting TOUGHER STANDARDS in high school will not solve the problem.

    By far the biggest problem is the unknown, those that graduate and go on to low paying jobs and constant unemployment with a self-concept of defeat. How many dollars are we paying for welfare, government training programs and corporate remedial training to mention just a few.

    Please look at the system as a whole, do not put money in one area that will sub-optimize the good of the whole.

    It's time to declare defeat, and start over with saving the many at the beginning of our system and help what we can at the end.


4/18/05 - Heard on the radio ( ) today that a local high school was missing 300 of the newly revised state MEAP tests. They were found in a student's locker. I guess when you put that much stress and pressure to get into college, some students will resort to anything.

There is a silver lining - Recruiters from Kmart, Enron and MCI are all offering an internship into their management development program. I suppose they figure he has COO or CEO potential. Yeah, I made that part up.

4/21/05 - supplied from a comment by M.P.

Rhode Island Using Methods Other Than Tests To Measure Student Performance
SOURCE: Education Week

Rhode Island school districts have devised methods besides testing to measure student achievement and create high school graduation requirements. State officials said the idea is to make schools focus on skills that aren't easily measured with tests, such as time management, teamwork and organization. School districts have submitted plans that focus on work-related experiences and solving real-world problems. Some districts want students to give oral reports and put together portfolios of their work. "It's very important work," said Michael Cohen, the president of Achieve Inc., a Washington based group that advocates high academic standards. "I think an ideal state assessment system would include a mix of on-demand tests and rich performance assessments" neither of which, on their own, provides all the information you need." Joseph B. Goho, the principal of North Providence High, said before his school started requiring high school seniors to do projects to graduate, there were as many as two dozen seniors dropping out. Since requiring the projects, the number of drop outs is in the single digits. "It has allowed us to leave fewer children behind," Goho said. It's engaging our less motivated kids. It's also curing senioritis for our high-achieving kids."

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