Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Education - "We'll Be Watching You" updated 6/14/05 -"A Nation at Risk"

qualityg says… he likes what “Sting” says too…

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
We'll be watching you

Yep, the more people I talk to or send me Emails want to know why I’m always hounding the education system. Because like most systems it often takes people from the outside (I don’t just mean consultants) to give a new perspective. Fear, bureaucracy, protectionism, etc… bury those who work on the inside.

For years I attended open houses at my kids schools, and now I listen to them telling me what their college advisors tell them what is best and instructors who change the rules as the course progresses through the semester.

One had a math teacher in high school that constantly failed over 60% of her class. I asked her what she does when 70–80% percent of the students get a problem wrong on a test? She responded "they can see me after class and I will explain the problem to the student." I replied, "would you ever consider throwing that question out since it seems the majority got it wrong?" Perhaps in cases like this a teacher/instructor should ask whose fault is it that the students did not learn?

A friend’s daughter struggles with Math at Michigan State, when I asked what she thought the problem was, she replied my instructors have such an accent I can’t understand what they are saying. They usually have a grad student that will set up times to meet outside of class, but when I go the lines are a mile long. Why don't parents challenge the school, after all are they not losing money? Oh, it's probably the kids fault, it's easier to threaten them instead of challenging a great institution.

qg says... Students must speak up in one voice for the good of all and get these teachers removed from instruction, move them to research, move them out the door, you deserve to be taught in the language of your country. If you can't get the school to move them, then stand up in class, be humble, be polite and ask the instructor to "repeat" what you need to know, repeat again until you are understood. Tape the instructor and take it to the Dean and demand a passing grade and your money back. By doing nothing means you approve, then you must expalin to your parents why you are failing. Who are they going to believe??

Math and Science are an on-going problem in our education system today. Just this past weekend there was a headline and article that said…

Math scores worry educators


Michigan's flat math scores on the MEAP test have educators nervous, as expectations are to rise this year and more schools could fail to meet state and federal academic goals.

Elementary and middle school MEAP scores released Friday by the Michigan Department of Education show no increase in math test scores for fourth-graders and a slight decline for eighth-graders.

"I'm concerned about the fact that the math scores have not gone up," said Jeremy Hughes, interim state superintendent. "I'm concerned we may see more schools not making it in mathematics."

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that Michigan use the MEAP scores to determine whether schools have met adequate yearly progress in reading and math, which for three years has meant that 47 percent of students had to pass the math test. The standard rises to 56 percent this year.

qualityg says... does anyone care that teaching by tests is like managing a company by using the bottom line numbers! Folks -- these are "result" measures, they are after the fact that have no associated "process" measures that will tell you if there is a problem in the process. If you don't have these measures aligned all you will end up doing is moving targets and implementing more standards. I want to know where are all the Statisticians have gone, wake up boys and girls with your software and numbers and get in the game and debunk this crap.

In reading, the standard has been 38 percent; it rises to 49 percent this year. Statewide, scores rose in both fourth and seventh grades.

The bar will keep increasing every three years until the 2013-14 school year, when 100 percent of students must pass both subjects.

Schools that don't meet the standard face penalties that grow more severe each year. The sanctions can be as simple as requiring schools to offer tutoring for struggling students and as drastic as replacing school staff.

It may be too soon to predict whether the flat math scores, and lack of significant improvement in other subjects, will mean more schools face sanctions, said Hughes and other education experts. His department will release school report cards, which indicate whether the standards have been met, in August.

But eventually, most schools will have trouble meeting the goals, especially as the standard gets close to 100 percent."

It's not a question of if you won't make it at some point. It's when," said Bill Hamilton, assistant superintendent for K-12 instruction in Walled Lake Consolidated Schools.

His district's scores were well above the state average across the board, a result of a years-long effort to ensure curriculum is consistent and clear across the district.

"The bottom line is, teachers do exactly what the name implies. They teach. But if they have direction on what to teach and there's consistency, kids are going to do better," Hamilton said.

In Detroit Public Schools, the state's largest school district, reading scores rose, as did math at the eighth-grade level. But there were declines in other areas, including a slight drop in fourth-grade math.

In L'Anse Creuse Public Schools, administrators were pleased that scores went up in math and in English language arts, a combination of the reading and writing tests. Assistant Superintendent Keith Wunderlich said the district is in good shape for conquering academic goals."We're beating the mark for 2012," Wunderlich said Friday. "We're well above what the state expectations are. qualityg... - By what method do you know this to be true?

"This year's writing scores -- which dropped for fourth-graders but increased among seventh-graders -- also drew attention because the state recalculated the scores, lowering the passing rate because the scores took a sharp nosedive from last year.

The state adjusted the passing rate for the writing test after getting many complaints from local educators about low scores. Hughes said the writing scores statewide dropped between 10 percentage points and 20 percentage points.

"The differences in scores were not the result of differences in students' ability, but in the difficulty of the test. We made an adjustment in the passing score to make it equal to the difficulty of the test," Hughes said.

David Plank, co director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, said it's a common testing practice to "recalibrate your standard when you discover that no one is meeting it."


MEAP scores

To see how your school fared on the MEAP, go online to http://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/mischoolinfo/

Copyright© 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.

qualityg says…

I don’t know the exact goals that were set, but if the goals are beyond the means of the schools to achieve I see nothing but frustration, confusion, finger pointing and tampering of the system by those who need to obtain the target. I feel for those teachers and students who are losing their joy of teaching and joy of learning.

Working in corporate America for many years and given countless targets, goals, objectives, etc, I learned that numerical goals (including date related) really don’t matter unless they are accompanied by a method on how to obtain them. Once upper management sets them (without planning or obtaining up front data/information) it becomes a sprint to see how fast the numbers can be obtained as they are delegated down to unsuspecting work groups or project teams. What ultimately happens when fear is created the worker(s) will eventually figure out how to meet the number by changing the rules, exceed the number by sub-optimizing another part of the system/process, or distort that “bad boy” so bad that no one can figure out what is going on! At least that’s what Enron and MCI thought. I might start adding the State Education Board to this ship of fools.

I’m troubled that I see no “method” by which the schools are trying to obtain the goals (seems like everyone is on their own), if “L’Anse Creuse Public Schools have created a methods that works, then benchmarking/sharing should take place for replication (watch out for NIH – not invented here).

Now, when I read words like, fail, no increase, slight decline, concerned (multiple times), 100% must pass, to soon to predict, trouble, and my favorite – recalibrate, I begin to start questioning does anyone know what the heck is going on?

This is no different that in many of today’s organizations that manage by results. If it’s to soon to predict like the article mentions, then how will we know if the schools will fail, how can you make statements like that? Thats right, at the end of course when it's too late for recovery.

“Schools that don't meet the standard face penalties that grow more severe each year. The sanctions can be as simple as requiring schools to offer tutoring for struggling students and as drastic as replacing school staff.” What kind of crap is this? It’s more important to attack the processes (not people) that are not adequate to determine where the problem(s) are beginning, not the schools that are doing there best to succeed. I got it! School Staff gets up every morning and on their way to work dream up ways to fail.

With all the focus constantly on test results I'm concerned about children losing their creativity, innovation and having fun while they learn. The result of trying to hit moving targets is the elimination of the arts, music, field trips and physical education (we maybe can pass a test, but we can't run home and tell Mom because were to obese) If you haver never seen the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus," please do, if yes, rewatch it!

Let me ask some questions, how does the Michigan Department of Education know that many schools are bound to fail?

By what means of measurement are they using? I would like to know what the education board’s definition of a “stable” standards process?

Is it when all schools have met the goal? I have always been taught that unless your process is stable you cannot predict any outcomes, nor can you determine if your process is “capable” of meeting the goals. When you start comparing scores year-to-year, month-to-month or day-to-day and some go up and some go down that is called “Variation (i.e., no two teachers or no two students will “ever” be exactly alike).

I learned from a very wise man (Dr. W. Edwards Deming - http://deming.org/) that when you’re dealing with statistics it’s best to be trained by a master, if not more damage can be done. Not falling into that category (I consider myself an applicationist) I would suggest Mr. David Plank co director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University contact an expert from their Statistics Department (preferably a theoretical statistician). Please ask that person to explain Dr. Deming’s Funnel Experiment before you continue to recalibrate a system that sounds like it is out of control.

updated 5/22/05

Teachers flee Michigan to find jobs
School openings are sparse here, so new graduates are forced to head south, west.
Graduates of teaching colleges such as Michigan State, Oakland and Eastern Michigan universities are entering a job market squeezed by a tight state economy, stagnant population growth and teacher layoffs, prompting officials at those schools to advise their graduates to consider moving to states like Florida, California and North Carolina where teaching jobs are plentiful.
qualityg says... This is a problem in the area of "creativity & innovation," schools need fresh ideas to merge with the best of the experienced ideas.

updated 5/31/05
U.S. children left behind
When tests drive curriculum, no one masters anything
May 31, 2005

qualityg says... can't add a thing, a "great" article - please read @ http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/emoblo31e_20050531.htm

updated 6/05/05

Michigan has the beauty, but it increasingly needs the brains

qualityg likes this guy. Mr. Finley consistently writes an excellent column challenging conventional wisdom. The following is another one about education that took place at the glorious and luxurious Mackinac Island - "Grand Hotel."

A few highlights:
Just 23 percent of Michigan residents hold a college degree, compared with nearly 40 percent for the top-ranking states. That number is not from a survey, it's a fact.

Also indisputable is that the states with the most highly educated residents have the lowest unemployment. Michigan, which ranks 39th of 50 states in educational attainment, according to an Indiana University study, has the nation's second highest unemployment rate. You don't need a college degree to connect those dots.

The Alliance for Excellence education advocacy group predicts that 25 percent of Michigan's current eighth-graders are at risk of not graduating from high school.

qualityg says... How many dollars are used to support this conference? Since we are in such difficult financial times perhaps the meeting could have been held in a less lavish place. However, maybe someone is planning on leaving the Ferry Boats inland and leaving our Politicians on the Island.

Don't worry unemployment is not bad on the island this time of year, besides they are all smart people, they could get jobs in "Fertilizing and Alternative Methods in Saving Fuel."

For those outside of Michigan, Mackinac Island is a wonderful vacation spot located in Northern Michigan. No cars are allowed and you must travel by Ferry Boat to reach the Island. The main source of transportation on the island is bikes, walking and horse drawn buggies. Now there should be no shortage of help to pick up the poop. Who says we don't have brains?
updated 6/14/05
Our Nation is at Risk

Our Nation is at Risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur--others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.
qualityg says... Will We Lose Another Generation?
Children born today can expect to graduate from high school in the year 2000. We dedicate our report (Nation at Risk) not only to these children, but also to those now in school and others to come. We firmly believe that a movement of America's schools in the direction called for by our recommendations will prepare these children for far more effective lives in a far stronger America.
The complete story can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/risk.html
This was written in 1983!! This report gave findings to legislators about when to start school among other recommendations.

The following article was written 6/14/05:
When to start kindergartenLegislators,
expert’s debate moving back birthday cutoff

qualityg says... Both reports stress the need for additional "Standardized Testing." Wake up Educators and Legislators, those tests are results oriented (snapshots). We need trend results (on-going movie) that tell the whole story about the student. Assessments of individuals cannot be bundled.


Quality Weenie said...

I just hate teachers like that. During my 1st B.S. degree and while I was under the Education program there was a Elementary Chemistry science professor that on the first day said "Half of you will drop this class, the half that doesn't drop it half of those will fail the class".

He was the only teacher that taught this class ever. Not one student could figure out why something wasn't done about him and his teaching methods but he had tenure but also a complaint list a couple miles long.

By day 2 I knew I wasn't going to learn anything from this teacher and didn't even try to learn anything from him. I tried to learn on my own and squeaked by with a D+ in the class and was happy about it.

Although I can say I ended up at the same univeristy for degree 2 and now 3 and since it's in the Technology program of the school the teachers are awesome and I learn so much from them. And the big thing, they don't push their views on to you. They teach the subject they are suppose to teach from many different angles.

qualityg says said...


thanks for sharing and glad the story ended on a positive!