Education Bureaucrats Fake Academic Achievement Results
By Carole Hornsby Haynes August 18, 2017 with Commentary by Bill Ames
Last year I wrote an article about how the education bureaucrats are shielding the truth from the American parents: children in government schools are skidding downhill in academic achievement. The national math scores of fourth and eight graders have dropped for the first time since the National Assessment of Educational Progress was administered in the early 1990s. Senior math scores declined also.
Yet the Texas Education Agency lied about it – even boasting on its website that the fourth and eighth grade students taking the 2015 NAEP in math scored higher than the national average.
Even worse, the TEA has not disclosed the fact that when we compare the 2015 NAEP eighth grade math scores with the 2011 scores, Texas has actually dropped more than any other state!
The collapse in eighth grade math in Texas is the MOST DRAMATIC in the nation!
A few days ago the Dallas Morning News published a commentary about how 90 percent of parents believe their children are performing at or above grade level in math and reading when, in fact, only one-third of American students are performing at grade level. Bill Ames provides an excellent account about why and how that is happening.
Here is his article, reprinted with permission.
WHY THE RICHARDSON ISD COMMUNITY HAS AN INFLATED VIEW OF STUDENT ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
by Bill Ames August 16, 2017 Published at Education Views
A recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News described an April, 2017 document that revealed a “sobering disconnect between perception and reality in (public school) academic achievement”.
District of Columbia-based Learning Heroes surveyed 1,374 parents of public school children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The report, “Parents 2016: Hearts and Minds of Public School Parents in an Uncertain World”, revealed that ninety percent of parents believed that their children were performing at or above grade level in reading and math.
The survey results were overly optimistic. The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress found that just over one third of students performed above grade level.
Bibb Hubbard, Learning Heroes founder, called the results “a heartbreaking wake-up call”.
Why do parents have such an inflated view of student performance?
As a resident of Dallas-area Richardson ISD, I find the answer to be simple.
The school district publishes only the good news. Bad news is not allowed to leak through to the community. Borderline performance is twisted or revised to look good. So regardless of what is actually happening academically, parents are spoon-fed a serendipity view of district performance.
A couple of examples.
On May 1, 2017, Richardson ISD staff presented STAAR test results for 5th and 8th grade reading and math. It was an enthusiastic, upbeat presentation, due to RISD beating the Texas state averages. Assistant superintendent Tabitha Branum said that she is “incredibly proud” of this performance. Trustees gushed over the results. Outgoing trustee Kris Oliver “thanked you guys”. Trustee Eron Linn spoke of “crossing the goal line”…??? Outgoing board president Kim Caston thanked all for their hard work because it’s “paying off for the kiddos”.
Curious….. about the district declaring victory by “beating the Texas average”, since Richardson touts itself as being “one of the best”, superior to most other districts in a relatively low-performing state.
But if a citizen drilled down into the data, he found that the results are not cause for celebration.
42% of 5th graders do not meet math grade level expectations.
44% of 8th graders do not meet math grade level expectations.
46% of 8th graders do not meet reading grade level expectations.
52% (over half) of 5th graders do not meet reading grade level expectations. The result of this number is stunning. Nearly 1500 5th graders, spread across RISD’s 40+ elementary schools, do not read to grade level expectations.
There was no discussion by the trustees (who are elected by the community to oversee district performance) that the RISD District Improvement Plan called for these students to achieve a 70% passing grade, far above the 48% attained. There was no trustee discussion about consequences for this significant failure.
RISD has been in academic decline since it adopted the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) vision in 2010. In a recent school board election debate, challenger Lynn Davenport called for a return to academic focus: reading, writing, math. Incumbent Kristin Kuhne scoffed, “We teach the Whole Child”. Unfortunately, whole child education focuses on social and emotional learning and behavior modification. Academics take a back seat.
Parents and community members will not learn about RISD academic deficiencies in the district’s School Times electronic newsletter. Only the good stuff.
What to do with these 1500 kids who don’t read well? A district legislative priority is to “Oppose any legislation/program* that diverts public tax dollars away from public schools. (*vouchers, education savings plans, tax credits, tuition reimbursements, etc.)”
This says the district wants to keep these students trapped in schools that seem incapable of teaching them to read well, even sending its taxpayer-funded lobbyist to Austin to oppose a funded education alternative for student victims and their families.
Trapping the kids is a severe problem. Life is unforgiving for children who can’t read well. 80% of high school dropouts are struggling readers. 85% of teenagers in the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate. Dropouts make up 90% of welfare recipients and 75% of food stamp recipients. Richardson ISD is creating its own dreaded school to prison and poverty pipeline…..due to deficient reading programs.
Here is another example of RISD whitewashing its performance. In April 2016, the U. S. News and World Report published its “Best High Schools” list. The marquee at Richardson high school immediately boasted, “RHS named in 2016 Best High School ranking by U. S. News & World Report and The Washington Post”.
Drilling down into the data, however, the reader determined that RHS was in fact ranked #96 in Texas and #747 nationally.
Enough said. These examples make it abundantly clear that parents (and the taxpaying community) are being fed a distorted view of public school students’ academic performance.