As you probably know by now, the NAEP test scores ranking the states have been published. As you by now know, Delaware despite investing $191 million dollars, went backwards in some areas.
We are being told we have to tear apart our educational system, the same one that raised us, because it is no good. We are told how low we rank.
Well the nice part of publishing test scores, (which is why the News Journal won’t do it) is that it allows the population at large to also look at the hard data and draw clean conclusions.
Ever notice that when reformers speak of Delaware’s schools they use the guidelines of being proficient? Do you know what that means? Common sense would make it mean one graduates, as in…” ok, you graduated: you’re proficient.” But no. Not at all. Instead, it means one has mastered the level of taking a year of community college and making decent enough grades to go on into the next year…
But what really is important to society at large, is how many people pass or fail.
Thanks to the NAEP, we can see this for ourselves….
The entire hoopla is over a spread of 22 points…. We are in the middle 11 points from the top; 11 points from the bottom
Within that range are a lot discrepancies. As one example, Minnesota and Massachusetts, are the only two states which have 16% in the upper reaches, the advanced level. Yet on the graph New Hampshire with only 12% in the advanced level is ranked above Massachusetts, because it has more in the proficient category. Maryland which is way down the ladder, ranked at 17th, has the third highest in the advanced category at 13%, ahead of number 2 New Hampshire….
So the graphs appear to be arbitrarily set at being above or below “proficient” to arbitrarily achieve a certain result.
Overall 39% of our students go on into college… As the graph shows, 42% of Delawareans already meet that threshold. So what happens if we actually make more? There are not enough colleges or jobs requiring their skills to hold them. Your next order taker at McDonald’s will be a chemistry major. (White’s the last name; first name: Walter.)
A better comparison would be to focus on those who do not meet basic. After all the public school system was invented to train the entire population up to a basic level. So if we look at Delaware’s schooling, we see 14% do not meet basic. Although any lost child is sad, that is not as sad as one might think.
Minnesota which is the very best, has 10% not meeting basic level. 10%. So at best, one could surmise, the only room for growth at the bottom, is 4%… How does our total of 14% compare nationally? There are only 14 entities with rates lower, giving us a ranking of 15. Meaning only 14 entities have a lower percentage failing than does Delaware. But instead, the NAEP ranks us at 25, exactly at mid point.
Why the discrepancy? They chose to draw the line at proficient; … we choose to draw the line at completing basic.
So despite all of Delaware’s hand wringing and problems, we are failing only 4 more students out of every hundred, than the number-one state Minnesota. Considering they had no court ordered desegregation ruling with which to contend, that is a major accomplishment.
AND… We are failing just one more student per every hundred than Vermont, ranked in the top five of education overall…
We could be saying “Whoop! Whoop!” we are doing good.
But then,… if we were really doing good, all those businesses wouldn’t be able to get those enormous contracts ($300 million) to make it better, now would they?
Hence the whole rationale for drawing the line at “proficient”… Sad to say, if we had such designations in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s…. none of us would have amounted to anything in public school….
That said, there is nothing wrong with pointing the finger at the number one state, Minnesota, and saying “I want to make us like them..” That is essentially where our goal for 2015 is set… (just a little below it, actually)…
Therefore now is the time for the Markell office staff and the Delaware Department of Education to make a critical decision. What they did was risk trying a new method and it didn’t work. Every single business on the face of this planet does that.
Now comes the point of having to decide between these two options. Is the goal really that important, is it how you want to be remembered? Do you really want to do what is necessary to achieve that goal and give Delaware schools a reputation they can all be proud of? Or… is the loyalty to your cause far more important to you! Is being a proud card-carrying supporter of Common Core, showing steadfastness and obfuscuity, never wavering, as you charge forward in your version of the “Light Brigade” far more important to your character than being wrong when history casts its cold eye your way?
Every business makes such a decision and either pulls the program, or goes out of business. (Have you bought any “New” Coca-Cola lately?
There is still time to meet those goals for 2015. They are still possible to obtain in two years, 24 months, 730 days…, but, you have to let teachers teach in order to get there. You have to get rid of component 5. You have to allow our students to spend more time in classrooms and less time on the brand new expensive computers testing… You have to forget about outside directives from the Fed’s, and start focusing on the inside directives of each child.
It can be done… Question is, Mr. Executive: will it?