critical thinking / problem solving / research

How Obama Is Changing Education

education_reformI wanted to discuss the results of NCLB, now that we’re leaving it behind and moving on to what Obama calls ‘Race to the Top’. I started with a Google search for stories, data, apocryphal results. By the time I read the heading and the first few sentences, I could tell if it would be pro or con. Whatever stories were available or data out there, it would end up proving the author’s purpose in their article. See if you agree:

Words like:

abysmal, ‘the realities left behind’, crucial, –these are all hyperbolic words, emotional statements, intended to insight feelings in lieu of necessary data

Words like:

released the data’, ‘accountability system’, ‘we have a lot more work to do’, –these are denotative words (not intended to draw on emotion), fact-based, good-with-the-bad approach

The following two stories draw dramatically different conclusions from President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. See which word grouping you think they belong to:

How Communities, Parents and Students Assess the Impact of the NCLB Act 2004 – 07: The Realities Left Behind

  • NCLB has been imposed on a public school system that remains unequal. From one end of the country to another, witnesses described inequities in resources that made the federal mandates not only onerous but also exceedingly unfair. Moreover, the failure of policymakers to increase the capacity of state education agencies and districts to carry out reforms has allowed them to avoid responsibility and accountability. While these inequities stem from state and district policymaking, the federal government can leverage incentives or Title I formulas to encourage the reduction of disparities in resources between districts and schools.
  • NCLB rests on a faulty measurement capacity. The quality and reliability of tests need improvement. In addition, the public wants a broader purpose for assessment systems. Beyond the acquisition of basic skills, assessment systems should measure student and school achievement in other areas, including fostering of citizenship, preparation in “soft skills” valued by employers and colleges alike, and the development of all talents, from technical to artistic. Admittedly, some of these aspects are not easily measured, but that should not be an excuse for ignoring them or minimizing their importance to student success.

More schools earning As, state report cards show

By Lori Higgins
Free Press Education Writer

Fewer schools are failing to meet state and federal academic goals, more are earning As, and more are pulling themselves out of trouble. That’s the story behind the release today of state report cards for every public school in Michigan.

  • The number of schools that met the academic goals rose from 3,003 last year to 3,147 this year.NCLB Logo
  • The number of schools receiving As on their state report cards rose from 1,526 to 1,680.
  • More than 35 schools that have been consistent failures managed to show enough improvement in the last two years that they are safe from sanctions. Sixteen of those schools are located in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
  • The number of schools that fail to meet the standards because of the performance of minority, economically disadvantaged, special education and limited English speaking students is on the decline.
  • Of the 524 schools statewide that didn’t meet the academic goals, about 100 are located in Detroit Public Schools and another 142 are in the tri-county area.

It’s a tale of two debate techniques, one inductive and one deductive. Read the data and draw your conclusions or read the accept the reviewer’s early-stated conclusion and see how they arrived at their end point. If you’re pro NCLB, you’d say those against didn’t look at the data. If you’re against NCLB, you’d say the reporting agencies ‘taught to the test’–twisted the data to fit your needs.

How do we know if the program worked or not? It comes down to us, as citizens soldiers of the American political system, just trying to give our kids a better life than we had. We believe education will do that. Most of us like our schools, but think the rest of them suck.

New administration. New ideas. Here comes Obama’s Race to the Top:

California Actions on ‘Race to Top’ Scrutinized

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs an order in Sacramento last month calling for a special session of the legislature to consider a basket of education improvement proposals.
— Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to call a special session to better position California for Race to the Top funds may be the highest-profile test yet of whether proposed federal requirements for the coveted grants are likely to significantly reshape state policy.

The Republican governor last month directed the Democratic-controlled California legislature to consider enacting a package of education redesign measures—including scrapping a law blocking the state from linking student and teacher data—in hopes of improving the state’s competitive posture.

Under draft criteria for the Race to the Top Fund, released July 23, states that have such a data “firewall” on the books would be automatically disqualified from getting a portion of the $4.35 billion fund, which was created under the American…

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