Thursday, September 3, 2009

So???? Does anyone on this list think the school grades have any meaning or value?

This question was put to NYC Education Listserve.

The entire concept of school grades has been ridiculous from Day 1. I even find progressive ed reformers falling into the trap of giving them legitimacy by saying things like, "My school got an A." I gently remind them that the grades are invalid whether they are good for your school and bad for others.

But leave it to parent leader Lisa (Donlan) to respond in full.

How could they?

As per usual this gang can't shoot straight.

Even when they start with a good idea, or perhaps good intentions, it gets twisted around in the educrat mill to meet some other list of politically expedient needs.

The result is often a counter intuitive, miss the mark, harmful sham.

Like the large scale up of small schools, or the Stalinist imposition of child centered pedagogy, or the unfettering school decision making from bureaucracy, this is but one more example.

Thus, even a simple dash board style "report card" of schools to inform parents of their ever increasing "choices" for schools that have themselves been pitted against each other in an environment of competition, for students and their funding dollars, gets botched.

Never a simple tool, the report cards have been a black box of metrics and statistics that most people can not begin to understand, never mind evaluate.

The result in the "marketplace" has been confusion, derision, skepticism.

So no- I can not imagine any one can believe in these letter grades that:

  • are based largely ( 85%) on test scores that themselves are more than suspect;
  • that measure "progress" on increasingly meaningless test scores so that schools that start out way behind and teach to the test end up with better grades than more competent, popular schools that communities know serve them and their children well,

  • fluctuate wildly from year to year at individual schools (just as the test scores do) and the metrics are modified to accommodate some external need
  • contradict other standards and measure such as NYS SINI and SURR or Federal Blue Ribbon Status, flat NAEP score and declining SAT's or increasing college remediation rates, etc.
  • are largely ignored when they do not support the real estate grab to accommodate the ever expanding parallel charter system.

Just to name a few of the reasons the report cards are a huge waste of money, time , energy resources and attention that could be better used to PUT CHILDREN (and learning) FIRST!

Lisa Donlan
CEC One

Related:
Leonie Haimson's "The absurd, silly, ridiculous school grades"

1 comment:

  1. Here is the problem with school grades...It's a bunch of nonsense. To give a school a grade based on how well or how poor the students do on these RIDICULOUS tests is CRAZY! If we look at the areas where schools are not doing well, we have to look at the family lives and environment of these children. When we look we see single family homes, where the parent maybe working 2 or more jobs, parents and/or siblings are incarcerated, in gangs, doing drugs, etc. Now look at the MAJORITY of the "good" schools and you will see they are in affluent neighborhoods, both parents are involved because they only work 1 job each or only one parent works full time and the other is home or works part time. We need to stop putting SO much pressure on our children and teachers and START putting the pressure on the COMMUNITY as a whole. Whatever happened to "it takes a village to raise a child!"? Noone seems to care about anyone anymore, why is that? Our children, our future, their future, and the future after theirs is severely suffering as we are to blame!

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