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Friday, May 18, 2012

The Solution To Poor Test Scores?

Lower the passing grade! Please watch the video and read the article at the foregoing link.

In case the link goes bad, I've copied and pasted the entire article below the fold.

Dated May 15, 2012:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Board of Education decided in an emergency meeting Tuesday to lower the passing grade on the writing portion of Florida's standardized test after preliminary results showed a drastic drop in student passing scores.

The results indicated only about a third of students would pass this year's tougher Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exam, compared with a passing rate of 80 percent or more last year.

"They've asked students to do more, but that's pretty dramatic," said Florida Education Association spokesman Mark Pudlow. "We need to examine what led to this, not just paper over the problem."

he results provide another opening to critics of high-stakes testing. The statewide teachers union has opposed Florida's use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers and grade schools.

"Our students must know how to read and write, and our education system must be able to measure and benchmark their progress so we can set clear education goals," said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement Monday. "The significant contrast in this year's writing scores is an obvious indication that the Department of Education needs to review the issue and recommend an action plan so that our schools, parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the results."

Results on the FCAT are the major factor for determining grades the state uses to reward top schools and sanction those at the bottom of the spectrum.

This is the first year students and schools will be assessed on the basis of tougher tests and scoring systems, expecting to result in more students failing the FCAT and lower school grades.

The board, though, agreed at its regular meeting last week not to let any school drop more than one letter grade this year to help them adjust to the rigorous new standards.

The writing exam was made more difficult by increasing expectations for proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling and sentence structure. The board also increased the passing grade from 3.5 to 4 on scale of zero to 6.

The preliminary results show only 27 percent of fourth-graders received a passing score compared with 81 percent last year.

For eighth-graders it was 33 percent — down from 82 percent in 2011. For 10th-graders it was 38 percent — a drop from 80 percent last year.

The lower passing score is expected to increase the number of students passing the exam to 48 percent for fourth grade, 52 percent for eighth grade and 60 percent for 10th grade, still well below last year's results.

"This incident again demonstrates that Florida school grades reflect profoundly political decisions, not objective measures of teaching and learning," said spokesman for FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing in Jamaica Plain, Mass, Bob Schaeffer, in an email. "How can a measure which fluctuates from 81 percent to 27 percent 'proficient' in just one year even meet the laugh test?"

The Department of Education's notice for the proposed emergency rule says when the board approved the scoring changes it "did not have, and could not have had, impact data" that would show how those revisions would affect the results. It adds that the preliminary results now indicate "the heightened scoring rules may have unforeseen adverse impacts on school grades."

School grades factor into such decisions as closing low-performing schools or making faculty and administrative changes. Lower rated schools also lower the property values in the community.

Officials in some school districts have been preparing parents for bad FCAT news by sending letters home with students explaining that the tests have become more difficult to pass.

Other officials are pushing back.

School boards in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties have passed a resolution against what they say is an over-reliance on high-stakes testing. Board members say the exams reduce time devoted to teaching and put unhealthy stress on students.

The resolution asks the state to develop a new assessment system that relies less on standardized testing and urges the federal government to reduce testing requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act.

Florida is among nearly a dozen states that have received a waiver from No Child Left Behind. State education officials, though, say the waiver still requires high testing standards.

The Florida resolution is similar to one that 438 Texas school boards have signed. FairTest and other groups initiated the resolutions.
I am at a loss for a civil comment.


  1. Hi AOW.

    A 'lower educated' population is easyer to 'mis'lead, this is common in Islamic countries, just look at Turkey Erdogan just lowered the education age and graduation treshold, also now they can take a 'religious' direction.
    "Only the educated are free"

  2. So let me see if I get this straight...

    They made the tests harder- and scores dropped nearly 60%- and since the parents, etc, complained they are now making it easier again? ...if so... ...I also am at a loss. The grade should not have dropped like that if the students were working hard and the teachers were teaching them. If either isn't happening, why reward it? By lower the standard after someone fails, you basically say your allowed to fail, its no big deal. Sorry, but no body learns that way. And since when did schools have to pass everyone? If a kid won't learn, they shoudln't pass, and if a teacher can't teach, they need to be replaced. But bad test grades shouldn't be rewarded.


  3. George Bush famously asked, "Is our children learning," and clearly the answer is no.

    Education is too important to be left in the hands of government. It all needs to be privatized.

  4. Will and Wildstar both are right on the money.

    A determined unwillingness to face Reality and deal with the alleviation of deficiencies in an honest, forthright manner is frankly a mark of insanity -- more proof, as if it were needed, that "Liberalism is, indeed, a Mental Disorder."

    The Marxist-Liberal-Progressive-Democrat mindset seems to want to foster a belief that if only we can keep on PRETENDING things are not the way they are LONG ENOUGH, eventually things will magically BECOME what we WISH they would be.

    It's not a matter of CONDEMNING or even of ACCUSING others of wrongdoing, or having bad intentions -- I am certain -- even though I credit The ARCHITECTS of LIBERALISM with destructive intentions -- MOST liberals really WOULD like to help the less fortunate.

    Very sadly the methods they've devised to go about it have only succeeded in weakening EVERYONE and distorting EVERYONE'S view of Reality to the point where perplexity, anxiety and anger are now the norms. The result is that we find ourselves at a place where all we can do is shout at each other across The Great Divide and call each other names from behind artificially constructed barricades.

    For instance, yesterday, instead of putting our heads together to try to find a way out of the maze, we started butting our heads together in a pointless, valueless, hideously divisive discussion based on the faulty premise that homosexuals might have a right to exist, but only if they make every effort to pretend they are something they are not -- at least that's how it seemed to me.

    Just as every attempt to rid the Western World of "Niggers and Jews" has not only FAILED, but BACKFIRED with tragic, long-term consequences, so would the attempt to stamp out homosexuality.

    REALITY -- another word for TRUTH -- has the annoying quality of being undeniable in the long run. Or as Chaucer put it, albeit more negatively, "Murder will out."

    ~ FreeThinke

  5. Once again Kipling says all there is to say on this particular subject in this famous poem -- lng the object of derision by liberals:


    As I pass through my incarnations
    _____ in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations
    _____ to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers
    _____ I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings,
    _____ I notice, outlast them all.

    We were living in trees when they met us.
    _____ They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us,
    _____ as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift,
    _____ Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas
    _____ while we followed the March of Mankind.

    We moved as the Spirit listed.
    _____ They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne
    _____ like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress,
    _____ and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield,
    _____ or the lights had gone out in Rome.

    With the Hopes that our World is built on
    _____ they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton;
    _____ they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses;
    _____ they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market
    _____ Who promised these beautiful things.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming,
    _____ They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons,
    _____ that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us
    _____ and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
    _____ "Stick to the Devil you know."

    On the first Feminian Sandstones
    _____ we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour
    _____ and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children
    _____ and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
    _____ "The Wages of Sin is Death."

    In the Carboniferous Epoch
    _____ we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter
    _____ to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money,
    _____ there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
    _____ "If you don't work you die."

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled,
    _____ and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled
    _____ and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters,
    _____ and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings
    _____ limped up to explain it once more.

    As it will be in the future,
    _____ it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain
    _____ since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit
    _____ and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger
    _____ goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished,
    _____ and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing
    _____ and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us,
    _____ as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings
    _____ with terror and slaughter return!

    ~ Rudyard Kipling

    Submitted by FreeThinke

  6. I read one account of this story where the Bord said the reason the fourth graders did so poorly was that one question was too hard. The question was to imagine you are riding a camel and write a short essay of the experience. The board said most of the fourth graders didn't have any odea of what a camel was. I'm serious.

  7. SF said, "George Bush famously asked, "Is our children learning,"". That's a good one!

    G W Bush certainly meant well with the OCLB program, but it has caused a LOT more problems than it solved.

    Here in the Atlanta area, we are leading the nation in the number of teachers changing student test answers so that 1)they can keep their jobs, and 2) they can keep their substandard schools open.

    One of the discoveries is that the worst teachers were more likely to cheat. The better teachers don't see a reason to cheat. Kinda makes sense.

    My retiring teacher wife purely hates the idea of her job being dependent on factors out of her control, which is pretty much the case with OCLB. The biggest problem in the school system is not the teachers, or even the administration. The big problem is culture.

    How do you get a kid to do homework when daddy is doing lines of coke, or bitch-slapping mom? Or, which child in the single mother family will exert themselves and be an example of academic achievement to the rest?

    We can fix teachers, administrators, and buy more computers. But, we cannot teach kids to read if they don't want to read, and their parents don't care.

  8. Wildstar,
    Let me say, without divulging too much of your personal information (YOU will know what I mean, and your knowing what counts), that I am VERY proud of you for saying the following:

    By lower the standard after someone fails, you basically say your allowed to fail, its no big deal. Sorry, but no body learns that way.

    As you know (**wink**), I believe this with regard to education and teaching methods: Set the bar low, and achievement will be low; set the bar high and both teacher and student are, more often than not, pleasantly surprised.

    When the bar is set high and students learn (Teachers DO have to TEACH, of course), students take the right kind of pride in themselves and discover that they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. From that achievement comes the right kind of self-esteem.

  9. Bob,
    Let me be clear....I'm no fan of No Child Left Behind. Yes, GWB, no doubt, meant well. However, if parents are not vested in their children's education, children often will develop an it-doesn't-matter attitude toward learning.

    I'm not sure that parents today realize how important to instilling the love of reading is parental reading to and with their children -- well beyond Grade One.

    You mentioned teachers' falsifying test results. Well, I've seen ADMINISTRATORS do the same with grades that teachers have turned in. I'm referring to teachers who have been holding line on standards. Such was the case in one private school in which I worked years ago.

  10. Just another Democratic union institution cooking the books.

    I'm soooooo shocked.

    My kids' school district is actually five points higher than my district growing up was to earn a letter grade!

  11. There is nothing new about this. Educational testing is a fraud of epic proportions. Everyone demands a demonstration of content mastery UNTIL it is their child who failed a high stakes examination, or a student from their classroom, or a student from their school, or from their school district, or from their state …

    There are “bad questions.” This is why all test questions undergo a vetting process, called benchmark testing. Questions that render poor results among minorities or females are excluded from item data banks. For the record, I have witnessed testing companies change psychometric data in order to provide higher testing results because (a) parents demanded it, or (b) state school boards demanded it. Testing companies will change this data because they want to get paid their $20 million or more (per year) from state treasuries. Is this a lucrative business? Do the math.

    Graduation tests are a sham and a waste of taxpayer money. It makes better sense to demand students demonstrate content mastery as a condition of advancing to the next grade … as in college. We won’t do that because God forbid any student loses his or her self-esteem because they are too stupid to answer basic questions in core subjects. This is exactly why so many college students spend five or six years working on their undergraduate degree: they spend up to a year focused on remedial (secondary level) classes even after passing the so-called high-stakes graduation test.

    The long term solution? Privatize education.

  12. Who cares for these tests any more folks, reading, writing, Bah! It's a brave new world now, if they can't get jobs it won't matter because there's welfare, free healthcare and off course free abortions, the height of modernity.

    No one dare to question the teachers and what's going on in the classroom though.

  13. American education isn’t ranked mediocre among leading industrialized nations for nothing. Everyone has conspired to make this so, from President Bush who thought NCLB a viable solution, to corrupt educators, incredibly dense parents, and students themselves who rarely deviate from pursuing the path of least resistance. When our children demanded adult supervision and tough love, America was found wanting. This explains how the US is transforming itself into a fourth-world cesspool. It’s true: our children can’t add, but they get a standing ovation for tolerating LGBT classmates.

  14. Whenever the test scores in Maryland go down... or students aren't making the promised improvements, the State simply brings in a new test to serve as a new benchmark... and then when the kids can't make any headway against THAT test, they throw IT out and bring,in a new benchmark... and when the kids fail AGAIN, they bring in a new test and well, you get the picture.

  15. Dang! Where did I get this OCLB stuff? It should have been NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Maybe I meant 0CLB (zero chlidren left behind).

    Have a great weekend!

  16. Privatize education and let corporate interests dictate curriculum. Real smart.

  17. I saw something about this on Fox, I could not believe it. As a teacher I know you are angry, it is just wrong. But this is where we are today.

    Very sad.

    Right Truth

  18. Sadly, I don't think privatization will help, parents who are able will then simply "buy" good grades from whatever educational system is willing to give it to them.

    Until we as a nation set standards and expect everyone to do their best to achieve them, then we'll continue on the path of mediocrity, IMO.

  19. For his next trick, mustang will explain why nations with extensive public systems and STRONG TEACHERS UNIONS regularly kick our ass.

    Why don't unionized teachers in Japan drag that nation down?

    Just a reminder that your simplistic kneejerk solutions to complex problems are asinine.

  20. The root cause of this problem can be laid at the feet of the Civil Rights Movement.

    No one wants to acknowledge that, but once we made the determined effort "to level the playing field" through forced integration and busing it's been down hill all the way in the field of education.

    Also, massive Hispanic immigration both legal and illegal has had a deleterious effect as well -- the worst part of which has been the push toward "Bilingual" and later "Multilingual" education.

    Once we turned the public schools into a network of laboratories where "social engineers" were given carte blanche to "reform" the system to make it "fairer" to minorities, American Public Education might as well have been given up for lost.

    Face it: The once-dominant White Protestant Christian majority has been betrayed -- deliberately subverted -- deprived, "dumbed down," and deposed in order to make America a more pleasant and accommodating place for Negroes and Chicanos -- and low-class, no-account "white trash" as well.

    That's the God's honest truth. All else is evasion.

    Now what should we do about it?

    Wreaking vengeance on "minorities" is NOT the answer. They are still victims, because they have been cynically exploited by leftists whose primary motive for their Hate-Based Initiatives has been to gain control of the levers of power.

    If there is an "answer" it ought to be found in this suggested slogan:

    Replace Manipulation for Domination with Education

    Public education should have as it's primary goals a firm grounding in "The Three R's" -- "Reading and Writing and 'Rithmetic taught to the tune of Hick'ry Stick" -- a good working knowledge devoid of politically-correct "nuances" -- of our history and the principles codified in The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

    By age 12 it should be obvious in such an honest educational system who is and who isn't capable of benefiting from "higher education." Those who are not should be placed in Trade Schools or be apprenticed to master carpenters, plumbers, electricians and the like.

    Those who prove incapable of developing the necessary skills to work in one of the trades, would simply have to "clean the windows, sweep the floors, polish up the handles of the big front doors," shine the shoes, mend, wash and iron the clothes, haul away the garbage, weed the flower beds, mow the lawns trim the bushes, and wait on tables, etc., etc., etc.

    It all boils down to this: EITHER WE RETURN TO COMMON SENSE OR WE DIE.

    ~ FreeThinke

  21. It makes better sense to demand students demonstrate content mastery as a condition of advancing to the next grade … as in college.

    There you go being logical again Mustang.

  22. Does that mean that you think Mustang is the ONLY one who has spoken logically, Chuck?

    ~ FreeThinke

  23. Ducky, please rely on your command of the Japanese language, your familiarity with their unique culture, and your many years living in Japan to explain all that you know about the Japanese education system. Your insight should be fascinating...

  24. I just finished reading the chapter in Decision Points where President Bush discussed his initial intentions for No Child Left Behind.

    Even after that had made its way through Congress, as we now can see, there is still the factor of schools lowering their standards to get more fed money and keep the principals employed, and, of course, the teachers' unions protecting their turf at the expense of our country's children and their futures.

    This is a fine example of "progressives", working for the people.

    So sad.

  25. FT,
    The once-dominant White Protestant Christian majority has been betrayed -- deliberately subverted -- deprived, "dumbed down," and deposed in order to make America a more pleasant and accommodating place for Negroes and Chicanos -- and low-class, no-account "white trash" as well.

    I won't deny that those are factors. They are, IMO.

    I also think that three other factors are significant to analyze the decline in successful education and the decline in standards:

    1. All the fads in education. Educators jump onto the bandwagon with delight so as to try "new things." Mostly, those "new things," I sometimes call them "bells and whistles," have turned out to be failures.

    2. Throwing money at the problems in education instead of actually ADDRESSING the problems. You mentioned vocational training, which I happen to believe is necessary as not all individuals have any kind of scholarly bent.

    3. The philosophy that the school replaces parents. Replacement is not the same thing as acting in loco parentis. Schools are trying to be all things to all people. For example, it may be compassionate to have certain special ed offerings. But I've seen some of those students in special ed classes. Are they LEARNING? I don't mean this unkindly....Is it really the job of the public education system to warehouse "basket cases"? Never mind the taxpayer burdens involved for such classes of one or two students (with a teacher AND and aide). Sheesh.

    All of the above factors, including the ones you listed, FT, have combined to make the perfect storm of failure of education. Do we really have an educated citizenry any longer? Oh, sure, a lot of people have a lot of degrees after their names. But, WHAT exactly do those degrees represent?

  26. Speedy G,
    It's a vile cycle.

    And a deceptive one, as well.

  27. Les communistes are destructing America, pieces by pieces. How must we remember les démocrates progressifs? Woodrow Wilson and World War I; Franklin Roosevelt and World War II; Harry Truman and the Korean War; Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam; Bill Clinton and war with Islams. Mon dieu!

    They must be so proud of sending le Japonais to concentration jails and of their cruelty to les Américains noirs, yes and Barry Hussein Mohammed Sotelo Obama qui les maintiennent asservis. Yes, so proud of this histoire. Je pense les personnes progressives sont des criminelles.

  28. Let's just think about the consequences of lowering test scores:

    Suppose that a person who does not have the ability or education is hired for the job of designing and building a highway bridge. Would you want to be the first person to drive over that bridge after it’s completed?

    Enough said...

  29. THE question that ought to settle this issue once and for all is this:

    After you've survived a massive heart attack, and are told your only realistic chance of survival is to undergo cardiac bypass surgery would you REALLY want to have your chest split open and your arteries toyed around with by a surgeon who received his credentials through AFFIRMATIVE ACTION?

    On a lighter note look at the most absurd aspect of Affirmative Action when taken to its logical extreme:

    Let's suppose you are a knowledgeable, sincerely devoted balletomane (i.e. an ardent fan of ballet). How would you feel if you paid for a high priced ticket, and found yourself confronted by THREE-HUNDRED-POUND BLACK BALLERINA (think "Mammy" here for a moment) assigned out of some misguided sense of "fairness" to dance the role of Odette-Odile in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake?

    Funny? You bet! Entertaining? Sho 'nuff! It wood be dat. But, the travesty would do a terrible disservice to Tchaikovsky, and to those who take the art of ballet seriously.

    When either incompetence or complete unsuitability are clearly demonstrated on the part of a job aplicant, it's flat out WRONG to place that candidate in that job. PERIOD!

    I hasten to add it would be just as wrong, of course, to DEPRIVE a capable, suitable person of the job, simply because that person happened to be a Jew, a homosexual, a Negro, an Hispanic, an Asian, a female or a cripple.

    ~ FreeThinke

  30. I agree with everything you said, AOW, but I think most of the things to which you object probably came about as a result of trying to accommodate that which may never be able to be properly accommodated.

    ~ FreeThinke

  31. Is it just me or does "free thinke" need to get the prescription refilled? Sorry pal, but you are so over the top whatever you are trying to say gets lost.

    Now, back to topic. I agree with conservativesonfire about the camels. I can't imagine being in the 4th grade and not knowing what a camel is. Or is this a consequence of the liberal war on smoking?

    Methinks the test is not the only thing that is dumbed down in our education system.

    When I aced a test in high school that most of the other kids in class failed I stood up and told the teacher that perhaps it had something to do with the way he was teaching.

  32. Be careful, Mike ... free thinke is a personal friend of AOW, and he won't stand for any criticism. But yes, I think he's run out of his medications: he kind that give you an over-inflated sense of self.

  33. Not to worry.

    FreeThinke's opinions don't always agree with mine.

    Criticism happens in the blogosphere. I don't concern myself much with cyber disagreements. Nor do I necessarily defend my friends, some of whom have heated arguments with one another.

  34. Disagreement is fine. Personal insults, however, are not a worthy substitute for reasoned debate, nor do they make a valid basis for criticism.

    If by any chance anyone is trying to draw me into a shouting match, they are doomed to disappointment.

    I say what I have to say the way I want to say it, then I leave. If you don't like it, that's your privilege, but it will have no effect on me.

    "We learn more about Peter from what he has to say about Paul, than we learn about Paul."

    Rude remarks reflect more poorly on the issuer than the recipient.

    ~ FreeThinke


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