"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jerry Brown Rebukes Attempts at Another Generation of More Testing

Jerry Brown's rebuke of the testing industrial complex on October 8 has sent shockwaves through the boardrooms of Pearson and the other predatory corporations whose CEOs are poised to cash in on a whole new generation of education testing mania introduced by RTTT.  Ostensibly as a way to get out from under the burden of testing, a state version of Arne Duncan's deal that Brown vetoed amounted to an extortion plot that holds a loaded testing gun to governors and superintendents with the promise of certain death if they refuse a waiver or, if they play the waiver game, then death by testing is exchanged for a life sentence of testing in every subject and at every grade level.  Oh yes, if you accept this life sentence of testing, your food ration promises to be cut severely.

Meanwhile, any semblance of humane learning environments has been erased in U.S. urban schools, as children are inflicted with increasingly draconian and constant test prep in what can only be accurately described as penal school environments, whose guards are often white girls recruited from Ivy League colleges to satisfy their "service learning" requirement to get into Harvard Law.  This is the way that a brand of remorseless neo-eugenics social control and resegregation is born, bred, inculcated, and spread into all public schools serving the poor--all in the name of civil rights (see Kevin Huffman as the proto-fascist calendar boy).  And now we see media stooge for corporate ed, John Merrow, urge teachers to adopt the abusive KIPP total compliance regime as a way to improve teaching and "honor teachers:"
"So do not be mad about schooling's failure to dramatically improve the lives of all 15 million children living in poverty. Instead, imitate the successful places, people and practices. Find out what's keeping educators from imitating success. Eliminate the obstacles and -- here's where you should get mad -- get rid of the educators who refuse to be copy-cats."
Yes, more copycats to mirror Merrow's spineless guzzling of the corporate kool-aid.  Work hard, be nice, don't think, and keep your mouth shut.  That's the way to build a better teacher, who just copies and follows orders.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the self-serving corporate education reformers would go after Brown, in this case through the editorial pages of the dependable and desperate corporate rag, the LA Times. A clip from para 1 shows the level of duplicity and lying that provides the foundation for this idiot editorial:
. . . by pressuring schools to raise achievement, it [high-stakes measurement of student progress through annual standardized tests] also has ensured that more students reach high school able to read books more sophisticated than those by Dr. Seuss — which, sad to say, was a major problem a decade ago — and tackle algebra by ninth grade.
Cute.  But like the other cute corporate propaganda to support 25 years of failed testing polices, it's a lie.  From Ravitch, Education Next, in 2009:
. . . . NCLB has produced meager gains in achievement. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assesses student achievement in reading and mathematics every other year. Despite the intense concentration on reading and mathematics required by the law, the gains registered on NAEP since the enactment of NCLB have been unimpressive.

In 4th-grade reading, the gains after implementation of NCLB, from 2003 to 2007, were small (three points) and exactly the same as the gains from1998 to 2003. Fourth graders in the bottom10th percentile of performance had a five-point gain after NCLB, but this did not compare to the 10-point jump in their scores from 2000 to 2002 pre-NCLB (see Figure 1).

In 8th-grade reading, there were essentially no gains from 1998 to 2007. Student performance was a flat line both before and after NCLB.

Mathematics was tested in 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2007. The gains preceding the adoption of NCLB were larger than those posted after NCLB. From 2000 to 2003, 4 th grade students recorded a nine-point gain in mathematics, compared to a gain of only five points from2003 to 2007. Among 4th-grade students in the lowest decile, there was an astonishing 13-point gain from 2000 to 2003 pre-NCLB; the same group saw a gain of only five points from 2003 to 2007. The same deceleration of student improvement was seen at all performance levels, from top to bottom.

In 8th-grade mathematics, gains also slowed after the passage of NCLB. Eighth graders saw a five-point gain from 2000 to 2003, but only a three-point gain from 2003 to 2007. . . . .
Want more evidence?  See FairTest's analysis from 2009 here.

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