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  1. #291
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    That doesn't really take into account, though, when charter schools become a "test score factory." Parents look at the test scores coming out of the school and see that they're high, and think it's a really good school, when it might be a matter of teachers drilling test prep into the kids all year long. Those schools tend to survive on account of their high test scores (some even get "School of Excellence" awards for having high scores) but they are not necessarily good schools.

    I would much rather my children learn how to think for themselves and find information on their own, than be filled up with all the information they can hold, like little buckets.

  2. #292
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    That doesn't really take into account, though, when charter schools become a "test score factory." Parents look at the test scores coming out of the school and see that they're high, and think it's a really good school, when it might be a matter of teachers drilling test prep into the kids all year long. Those schools tend to survive on account of their high test scores (some even get "School of Excellence" awards for having high scores) but they are not necessarily good schools.

    I would much rather my children learn how to think for themselves and find information on their own, than be filled up with all the information they can hold, like little buckets.
    Which is why it is so difficult to objectively assess the work of a teacher or school.
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  3. #293
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Which is why it is so difficult to objectively assess the work of a teacher or school.
    Exactly.

  4. #294
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orobas View Post
    What I see locally is that the scores on test results have become the objective-driving schools to spend upwards of 40% of classtime trying to achive the test results via redundant testing. But if the systems are as locked down as you are describing, it would explain why poor schools still cannot suceed. They are being asked to do something new with the same set of processes.

    I disagree with the bolded. This sounds cold hearted, but if you are seeking to change something to make it better, you have to take the risk of making it worse first. That includes social systems. It seems disturbing because we do not want to do something that places others at risk, but it is foolish to keep doing the same thing we have been doing if it isnt working. I would also argue that public schools have spent many years implementing various "whims" as educational fashion dictated-the exact thing the creed in the OP complained about-but they were done in a very top down manner from the administrative or political level.

    In a charter school, if what you are doing, the "whim", doesnt work-you kids do poorly (or the same as they were doing already for a typical inner city school) and parents choose not to send thier kids there. In effect your school and your whim, go out of business fairly quickly.

    Charter schools survive or perish very quickly, unlike a bad public school. Check out the attached link which illustrates a list of charter schools in the dfw area-with color coded graphics highlighting school performance. This allows a parent to quickly identify if a school is worth sending thier kid to. A bit like consumer reports for buying a car, but instead for finding a good school. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont.../0710/charter/

    I have heard folks say they dont like the idea of treating schools like a business-but if survive or perish as a business means our children receive a better education, then a cold blooded business model seems worthy. The alternative would be to build back in flexibility into public schools-but is that possible at this point or has the entire system become too constrained via regulation and procedure?
    + infinity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Which is why it is so difficult to objectively assess the work of a teacher or school.
    We probably shouldn't even try. (I really wish there was a sarcasm font).

    Tests aren't perfect, but you know what, tests are what the kids have to pass to get into college, grad school etc.., and tests are generally what the rest of the world uses to assess the achievement of their students.

    We can sit back and argue about what's fair all day long.

    And in the mean time, the rest of the worlds test scores will be going up relative to ours, and their students will have greater opportunity, and may even get more chances to change the world than ours do.

    I understand that this is a hard problem to solve, but like @Orobas said I would rather have schools that have the opportunity to do things wrong, fail, and be dissolved, than have a school system so resistant to change that nothing ever substantially changes.

    Sure some charter schools will fail. And sure many of the successful schools will be successful because they teach the test as opposed to actual learning. But you know what, that success is no different that what public schools have been doing all along. And as long as they are forced to work to learn the material, they will have to learn discipline.

    And more importantly I don't care as long as improving our scores diminishes the achievement gap between our students and those abroad.

    We can let the great and perfect be the enemy of the good here.

    We can let our hopes for a more just system of judging achievement than testing keep us from attempting to improve our test scores relative to the rest of the world...

    Or we can realize that we've fallen behind, and that our system needs a substantive change (regardless of what that change ends up looking like) and do our best to experiment in making a better system.

    In charter schools I at least see an attempt to experiment and change things for the better.

    In public schools it seems like everyone really enjoys resting on their laurels.

  5. #295
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orobas View Post
    What I see locally is that the scores on test results have become the objective-driving schools to spend upwards of 40% of classtime trying to achive the test results via redundant testing. But if the systems are as locked down as you are describing, it would explain why poor schools still cannot suceed. They are being asked to do something new with the same set of processes.
    This drive for better test scores affects charter as well as traditional schools. When traditional schools fail, a significant reason is that they are not allowed to implement best practices.

    Quote Originally Posted by Orobas View Post
    I disagree with the bolded. This sounds cold hearted, but if you are seeking to change something to make it better, you have to take the risk of making it worse first. That includes social systems. It seems disturbing because we do not want to do something that places others at risk, but it is foolish to keep doing the same thing we have been doing if it isnt working. I would also argue that public schools have spent many years implementing various "whims" as educational fashion dictated-the exact thing the creed in the OP complained about-but they were done in a very top down manner from the administrative or political level.

    In a charter school, if what you are doing, the "whim", doesnt work-you kids do poorly (or the same as they were doing already for a typical inner city school) and parents choose not to send thier kids there. In effect your school and your whim, go out of business fairly quickly.

    Charter schools survive or perish very quickly, unlike a bad public school. Check out the attached link which illustrates a list of charter schools in the dfw area-with color coded graphics highlighting school performance. This allows a parent to quickly identify if a school is worth sending thier kid to. A bit like consumer reports for buying a car, but instead for finding a good school. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont.../0710/charter/

    I have heard folks say they dont like the idea of treating schools like a business-but if survive or perish as a business means our children receive a better education, then a cold blooded business model seems worthy. The alternative would be to build back in flexibility into public schools-but is that possible at this point or has the entire system become too constrained via regulation and procedure?
    This is misguided. We know enough not to handle social systems this way in other areas. We do not, for instance, allow the marketplace to sort out which medications are effective, which don't work, and which are downright harmful. We don't even do this with building construction, letting the shoddy contractors go out of business as customers realize their buildings are flimsy and even unsafe. We have a testing and approval system for new drugs, and building codes for construction. Yes, some drugs are removed later due to an unforseen complication; and some contractors lose business, and eventually their license, for repeatedly flaunting code. The education of the next generation is at least as important as the medicine we give them and the structures in which we house them.

    A big part of the problem is that the changes and "innovations" in education, whether in charter or traditional public schools, rarely should be dignified by the term "experiment". Your average science fair project is a better example of scientific method. Education "experiments" operate with multiple uncontrolled variables, lack proper controls, have insufficient sample size to make the results more than anecdotal, and are often poorly grounded in background research. Consider, by contrast, how medicine approaches experimentation on humans. Individuals used in trials participate with informed consent. Control groups are offered the best standard treatment. Otherwise, we end up with tragedies like the Tuskegee experiment.

    Experiments in education would do well to learn from this example, starting with the doctor's oath to do no harm. Students who suffer in a failed charter experiment should be given the best (not the worst) standard education to help catch them up. It is one thing to expect them to make do with an education that is fragmented, requiring extra years or summers to complete. It is quite another to let them fall behind and stay behind. Individual concerns aside, we cannot afford to waste our human resources this way.

    It is not a matter of being cold-hearted or soft, but rather of simple effectiveness. The profit motive will not provide a better education any more than it will provide better health care, or public safety, and there are ample results to illustrate this. Profit-making SHOULD be a by-product of providing a worthwhile good or service, but unfortunately in our system, making a profit is an end in itself, and all other considerations are sacrificed to it.

    The whole idea of educational experimentation is a bit of a red herring in any case. Bad schools are bad not so much because we don't know what works; we know what works, we are just unwilling to do it.
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  6. #296
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    This is misguided. We know enough not to handle social systems this way in other areas. We do not, for instance, allow the marketplace to sort out which medications are effective, which don't work, and which are downright harmful. We don't even do this with building construction, letting the shoddy contractors go out of business as customers realize their buildings are flimsy and even unsafe. We have a testing and approval system for new drugs, and building codes for construction. Yes, some drugs are removed later due to an unforseen complication; and some contractors lose business, and eventually their license, for repeatedly flaunting code. The education of the next generation is at least as important as the medicine we give them and the structures in which we house them.
    You're comparing things that are relatively easily measured (quality of construction, effectiveness of a drug) to something that is not. If there was an easy way to measure the effectiveness of education, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #297
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    If businesses want employees better educated--lord, do I even have to complete this sentence?

    There seems to be quite a lot of assumption going on here. For example, apparently there are sizeable sections of society, broadly conceived, that actually function adequately or that interact well enough with the other sections of social organisation, again broadly conceived, that somehow their requirements can and should be respected.

    Or, if I may be explicit, apparently company and corporate culture has achieved some sufficiently sophisticated level of substance that it can and should be accorded authority. And like, I'm guessing that not many of you read the papers anymore, then. Because if you do, and you still think you should somehow be meriting the bleating of the power structures you've managed to ignore the existence of thus far, then really, perhaps your education is at fault.

    There's really only one notion from the commercial world that applies to managing schooling: provide opportunity, then get out of the way. If you want young people to be the engine for the future prosperity of the nation: provide opportunity, then get out of the way. If you want to think of how to measure your inputs into the education system, think about how opportunity is provided. Then get out of the way.

    It's education, stupid. It's not an end product. It's where you start.
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  8. #298
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    You're comparing things that are relatively easily measured (quality of construction, effectiveness of a drug) to something that is not. If there was an easy way to measure the effectiveness of education, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
    It is easier to measure than people think. School districts and elected officials don't want to face the results, though. They prefer to look for quick fixes or silver bullets, or simply do nothing and let things continue as they have.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  9. #299
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    It is easier to measure than people think. School districts and elected officials don't want to face the results, though. They prefer to look for quick fixes or silver bullets, or simply do nothing and let things continue as they have.
    I would measure education by the career success of the students, not test scores, but we have a society obsessed with instant gratification.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  10. #300
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    I would measure education by the career success of the students, not test scores, but we have a society obsessed with instant gratification.
    Career or further academic success (e.g. completing college) is a worthwhile indicator to track, but will not provide data quickly enough to determine with any confidence whether a school is failing, much less whether an individual teacher is doing a good job. For this, one needs a measure more like a building code inspection: look at how things are constructed, don't just wait to see how the building and its systems stand up over time.

    In a way this goes back to what Kalach says about providing opportunities. Is a school providing the opportunities for students to learn? At some point, we need to hold students (and their families) responsible for their success or failure. There is far too much effort nowadays on making education entertaining, on motivating and holding the interest of students. Any subject, reasonably taught, should do that on its own. For the rest, there is the idea of self-discipline, learning what is not your favorite subject, because it is worthwhile and will be useful in future. Of course, that presupposes that what is being taught is indeed worthwhile and useful.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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