Monday, November 27, 2017

I am the teacher South Carolina wants to retain, and I am barely hanging on

I am the teacher South Carolina wants to retain, and I am barely hanging on

NOVEMBER 26, 2017 07:03 PM

Thursday, November 23, 2017

S.C. Supreme Court Ends Funding Oversight of 'Corridor of Shame'

South Carolina's supreme court late last week quietly put an end to a 24-year battle with the state's legislature over how it funds its most rural school districts.
The string of schools along Interstate 95, located in some of the state's most isolated areas, became known as the "Corridor of Shame" after a documentary was aired in 2005 that depicted decrepit conditions with students unable to read and write.  
"I had stumbled into another century," the host says at one point in the documentary.  
Thirty of those districts argued in a lawsuit in 1993 that the state had neglected to give them with enough money to provide its students with a "minimally adequate education."  
The state's high court has gone back and forth with the legislature, the plaintiffs, and the defendants since then.
On Friday, the court voted 3-2 to end oversight of the legislature's spending, arguing that it is not the role of the court to dictate how the legislature spends the state's money.  
"The General Assembly can now focus solely on our children's education needs rather than compliance with the arbitrary standard" of the supreme court, said House speaker Jay Lucas, according to the Associated Press.
Chief Justice Don Beatty, who dissented, said the court should wait for the legislature should finish a study to determine how much money it would require for the districts to provide a minimal education. 
"Unfortunately, our Court has lost the will to do even the minimal amount necessary to avoid becoming complicit actors in the deprivation of a minimally adequate education to South Carolina's children," Beatty wrote, according to the Associated Press.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Do Early Educators’ Implicit Biases Regarding Sex and Race Relate to Behavior Expectations and Recommendations of Preschool Expulsions and Suspensions?

Do Early Educators’ Implicit Biases Regarding Sex and Race Relate to Behavior Expectations and Recommendations of Preschool Expulsions and Suspensions?


Preschool expulsions and the disproportionate expulsion of Black boys have gained attention in recent years, but little has been done to understand the underlying causes behind this issue. This study examined the potential role of preschool educators’ implicit biases as a viable partial explanation behind disparities in preschool expulsions. Participants were recruited at a large conference of early educators and completed two tasks. In Task 1, participants were primed to expect challenging behaviors (although none were present) while watching a video of preschoolers, balanced by sex and race, engaging in typical activities, as the participants’ eye gazes were tracked. In Task 2, participants read a standardized vignette of a preschooler with challenging behavior and were randomized to receive the vignette with the child’s name implying either a Black boy, Black girl, White boy, or White girl, as well as randomized to receive the vignette with or without background information on the child’s family environment. Findings revealed that when expecting challenging behaviors teachers gazed longer at Black children, especially Black boys. Findings also suggested that implicit biases may differ depending on teacher race. Providing family background information resulted in lowered severity ratings when teacher and child race matched, but resulted in increased severity ratings when their race did not match. No differences were found based on recommendations regarding suspension or expulsion, except that Black teachers in general recommended longer periods of disciplinary exclusion regardless of child gender/race. Recommendations for future research and policy regarding teacher training are offered.

Study: Montessori Education Erases Income Achievement Gap

Study: Montessori Education Erases Income Achievement Gap

Friday, October 20, 2017

Greenville County SAT Scores

In The Greenville News, and posted with hyperlinks and expanded on my blog:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Gaiman, Prisons, Literacy, and the Problems with Satire

Regarding my recent blog about Neil Gaiman for Secretary of Education (and the edited version at The Answer Sheet), Ken Libby took me to task on Twitter for, among other things, Gaiman’s comment about prisons and literacy:
I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.
It’s not one to one: you can’t say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.
My immediate point after quoting Gaiman was: “Gaiman even understands the difference between causation and correlation—a dramatic advantage over Secretaries of Education in the past two administrations.”
I have also received a friendly and much appreciated email from Chris Boynick addressing the same issue, noting that it is an urban legend that prisons use child literacy to predict prison needs. See “Prisons don’t use reading scores to predict future inmate populations” and “Kathleen Ford says private prisons use third-grade data to plan for prison beds.”
Boynick sent that same information to Neil Gaiman who responded on Twitter with: “@CBoynick Interesting. The person who told me that was head of education for New York city.”
So let me make a few clarifications addressing all this:
  1. My Gaiman piece is satire (and to be honest, that should put all this to rest). I don’t really endorse or want Gaiman as Secretary of Education, although I think Gaiman is brilliant (as one Gaiman fan noted, we don’t want to detract from his life as a writer!). My real point is the calamity that is those who have served at Secretaries of Education—especially in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
  2. Nonetheless, Gaiman only relays a fact: He did hear this stated as a truth. So maybe we can level some blame at his believing this, but apparently a person with some authority who should have known the truth did state this in front of Gaiman.
  3. Has Gaiman, then, been a victim (like many of us) of an urban legend? It appears so.
  4. But, does Gaiman then make some outlandish or flawed claim based on misinformation? Not at all. In fact, I highlighted that Gaiman immediately made a nuanced claim: “It’s not one to one: you can’t say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.” And that claim helps him move into a series of powerful and valid points. I should emphasize that most politicians and political appointees start with misinformation and then make ridiculous and flawed proposals. On that comparison, Gaiman wins.
And for good measure, I suggest “Do prisons use third grade reading scores to predict the number of prison beds they’ll need?” by Joe Ventura, which addresses the urban legend, concluding with an important point relevant to this non-issue about Gaiman’s speech and my blog:
Perhaps it’s best to call this a distortion of the truth. While there isn’t evidence of State Departments of Corrections using third- (or second- or fourth-) grade reading scores to predict the number of prison beds they’ll need in the next decade (one spokesperson called the claim “crap”), there is an undeniable connection between literacy skills and incarceration rates.
You see, a student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time–six times less likely for students from low-income families. Take that and add to it a 2009 study by researchers at Northwestern University that found that high school dropouts were 63 times (!) more likely to be incarcerated than high school grads and you can start to see how many arrive at this conclusion.
But once incarcerated, not all hope is lost. In fact, literacy instruction can help on both ends of the correctional system; studies have shown that inmates enrolled in literacy and other education programs can substantially reduce recidivism rates. One study of 3,000 inmates in Virginia found that 20% of those receiving support in an education program were reincarcerated, while 49% not receiving additional support returned to prison after being released.
So, while prison planners do not use third grade reading scores to determine the number of prison beds they’ll need in the decade to come, there is a connection between literacy rates, high school dropout rates, and crime. While we should file this claim as an urban legend, let’s recognize why it resonates with us: it speaks to the important ways that poor reading skills are connected with unfavorable life outcomes [his emphasis].
With that, I rest my case: Gaiman’s speech is overwhelming on target, moving, and brilliant, and he deserves a bit of space for a small error of fact, and the current Secretary of Education is incompetent.
This leads me to wonder why so much concern about one detail in an author’s speech and my satirical blog, but so little concern for the incompetence of the Secretary of Education and the entire education agenda at the USDOE.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

July 2016 #BlackLivesMatter Reader (UPDATED)

White on White Crime: An Unspoken Tragedy

July 2016 #BlackLivesMatter Reader (UPDATED)

New SAT Yields Higher Scores, But Don't Be Fooled

New SAT Yields Higher Scores, But Don't Be Fooled

The number of students taking the SAT has hit an all-time high, but how well they’re doing is a bit of mystery.
The College Board released its annual performance report on Tuesday, which shows that 1.8 million students in the graduating class of 2017 took the exam, more than in any previous class. They scored an average of 527 in math and 533 in reading and writing. Each section is measured on a 200-800 scale.
But the College Board didn’t release year-to-year performance changes as it typically does. That’s because 1.7 million students—93 percent of the class of 2017—took the redesigned SAT that debuted in March 2016. It’s a different test, on a different scale, so the scores from the two years aren’t equivalent, they said.
This year’s scores reflect students’ performance only on the new SAT. Last year’s—508 in math, 494 in reading, and 482 in writing—reflect performance only on the old SAT.
In redesigning the SAT, the College Board aimed to build a more straightforward test that reflects the strengths students will need for college. It dumped obscure vocabulary words in favor of requiring students to justify their answers. It covers fewer math topics, but in more depth. It’s also shorter, with no penalty for wrong answers.
What appear to be big scoring increases should be understood not as sudden jumps in achievement, but as reflections of the differences in the test and the score scale, psychometricians said. Even though the numerical scale—200 to 800 for each section—is the same, a 425 on the new test measures a different level of achievement than a 425 on old test, they said.
It was a tricky year for college admissions officers, whose work included reviewing applications from students who had taken both the old and new versions of the SAT. Many admissions officers used concordance tables supplied by the College Board to understand how scores from the old test related to scores from the new one.
“We all noticed how much higher the scores from the new SAT were,” said Jennifer Winge, the dean of admissions at Wooster College in Ohio, said of the scores she saw coming in.
A College Board representative warned Winge and her staff to anticipate higher scores overall on the new test, she said. But she didn’t quite trust the conversion tables, and that made it tough to figure out how much weight to assign the new SAT scores in admission and scholarship decisions, she said.
“Frankly, the whole process just pushed us further into our consideration of going test-optional,” Winge said.
The 2017 SAT scores show inequities similar to those of earlier years. Asian (1181), white (1118), and multiracial (1103) students score far above the average composite score of 1060, while Hispanic (990) and African-American (941) students score significantly below it.
Because the new test is reported for two sections instead of three, the maximum composite score a student can get is now 1600 rather than 2400 for the previous version.
Likewise, scores continue to correlate with family educational background. The composite average score of students whose parents have bachelor’s degrees (1118) far outstrips the average of students whose parents have only a high school diploma (1003).

Readiness Benchmarks

Only 46 percent of students met the minimum scores that the College Board has correlated with a good likelihood of succeeding in entry-level, credit-bearing college coursework. Even in the transition years when the old SAT is being replaced by the new, and quantifying score changes is elusive, that’s still bad news, said Phillip Lovell, the policy director of the Alliance for Excellent Education, which focuses on high school improvement.
“Less than half of our kids meeting the college-readiness benchmark? That’s just not good. And it’s not sustainable” in a country that is striving for better college outcomes, he said.
More students are taking the SAT largely because the College Board has been pushing hard to win contracts with entire states or districts. Under those agreements, all students can take the college-admission test for free, or are required to take it, a move often aimed at increasing college access and enrollment. A recent study found that college-enrollment increases among low-income students in states that offer the SAT or ACT for free. Also, increasingly, states are choosing college-entrance exams as their official way to measure student achievement at the high school level.
College Board officials announced an expansion of that contract work. Starting in December, they said, schools—not just districts and states—can negotiate contracts to administer the SAT during the school day.
The contract battle between ACT and the College Board showed big gains for the College Board this year. Participation in its “school day” program rose from 458,000 in 2015-16 to 800,000 in 2016-17, powered in part by Michigan’s decision to switch from the ACT to the SAT.
The ACT currently has contracts with 19 states, and is still the nation’s most popular college-admission test: 2.03 million students in the class of 2017 took it. The College Board has contracts with 10 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 250 districts. But company officials said they anticipate 200,000 more students in their testing pool next year, which could make the two exams about equal in popularity.

Building the Pipeline

The College Board is working to build business not just with the SAT, but with a suite of PSAT tests. There are now three PSAT tests in the suite: the redesigned PSAT, aimed at 11th grade students; the PSAT 10, and the PSAT 8/9. Figures released by the College Board show a modest one-year increase for the PSAT and the PSAT 10: 4.3 million students, 46,000 more than in 2016-17. But the PSAT 8/9 showed a big gain, 47 percent, up to a total of 1.3 million students in 2016-17.
Average scores on the PSAT exams rose in all grade levels, according to the College Board. The company envisions the collection of PSAT and SAT exams, along with its “official SAT practice” provided free, online, by Khan Academy, as a way schools can shift focus from short-term test prep to building instructional strength over time.
“We do not believe that a one-time test at the end of students’ careers will change things,” David Coleman, the College Board CEO, told reporters in a conference call last week. “We are more interested in sustained work that changes students’ trajectories. That won’t come in narrow spurts of last-minute preparation.”
James S. Murphy, who tracks changes in testing as the director of national outreach for the Princeton Review, which offers test-preparation courses, said that in its increasing emphasis on the PSAT and SAT tests, the College Board is downplaying the SAT subject tests, which have been declining in popularity, and were dropped from this year’s score report.
“It just shows their shifting priorities,” Murphy said.
Doubts persist about using a college-admissions exam as a measure of student achievement, in part because of who takes the test—and who doesn’t.
Lauress Wise, the former president of the National Council on Measurement in Education, an association of psychometricians, said an accurate measure of achievement requires giving a test to a nationally representative pool of test-takers who take the exam under the same circumstances.
With both the SAT and the ACT, he noted, some students in the pool chose to take the test, while others, in entire states or districts, were required to take it as part of a testing contract.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Diversity Awareness Quizzes

Are you being fooled? I designed the Awareness Quizzes to challenge some of the false information floating around about difference and equity in the United States and the world.
Equity and Diversity Awareness Quiz (2017)
Downloadable Version of the Quiz in PDF Format
Downloadable ANSWER KEY in PDF Format.
Learn how to use the Equity and Diversity Awareness Quiz in a class or workshop.
Classism and Poverty Awareness Quiz (2013)
Downloadable Version of the Class and Poverty Quiz
Downloadable ANSWER KEY in PDF Format.
Who Said It?: A Re-Perception Quiz (2013)
This quiz contains quotations related to equity, diversity, and social justice. Quiz takers try to guess who, among the multiple choice options, uttered the words. Be prepared for suprises.
Downloadable Version of the Who Said It? Quiz in PDF Format
Downloadable ANSWER KEY in PDF Format.
Digital Sexism Quiz (2009)
Downloadable Version of the Digital Sexism Quiz in PDF Format
Downloadable ANSWER KEY in PDF Format.