Monday, October 31, 2022

In Case You Missed It – October 31, 2022

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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This week we cover the latest NAEP scores and the pandemic's impact on student achievement. We also look at the teacher exodus, charter schools, and a particular student mural in Michigan that has parents losing their minds.


New NAEP scores have been released and, as expected, the pandemic had an impact on the results. Before you read the three articles below, it might help to take a refresher course on what the levels Basic, Proficient, and Advanced actually mean. Tom Loveless wrote an article back in 2016 that's still one of the best explanations of why low Proficiency on the NAEP should not cause widespread panic.

The NAEP proficiency myth
NAEP does not report the percentage of students performing at grade level. NAEP reports the percentage of students reaching a “proficient” level of performance. Here’s the problem. That’s not grade level.

In this post, I hope to convince readers of two things:

1. Proficient on NAEP does not mean grade level performance. It’s significantly above that.
2. Using NAEP’s proficient level as a basis for education policy is a bad idea.
Proficient on NAEP is not grade level. It's "significantly above that." NAEP agrees [emphasis added]...
NAEP achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do...Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments).
It's true that students scored lower this year than in past years, but when you read in Chalkbeat, below, that only a third of fourth graders scored at or above the Proficient achievement level in reading, that does not mean that two-thirds of Indiana's fourth-graders are reading below grade level.

Can we do better? We hope so, but we don't need to panic.

NAEP Scores Confirm that COVID Disrupted Schooling; They Do Not Reflect a Downward Trajectory in School Achievement

Jan Resseger suggests that the test scores are a benchmark of where we were during the pandemic.

From Jan Resseger
There is no cause for panic. Schooling was utterly disrupted for the nation’s children and adolescents, just as all of our lives were interrupted in so many immeasurable ways. During COVID, while some of us have experienced the catastrophic death of loved ones, all of us have experienced less definable losses—things we cannot name.

I think this year’s NAEP scores—considerably lower than pre-pandemic scores—should be understood as a marker that helps us define the magnitude of the disruption for our children during this time of COVID. The losses are academic, emotional, and social, and they all make learning harder.

Schools shut down and began remote instruction in the spring of 2020, and many stayed online through the first half of last school year. While most public schools were up and running by last spring, there have been a lot of problems—with more absences, fighting and disruption, and overwhelming stress for educators. It is clear from the disparities in the scores released last week among high and low achievers that the disruption meant very different things to different children. It is also evident that the pandemic was a jolting shock to our society’s largest civic institution. It should be no surprise, then, that the attempt to get school back on track was so rocky all through last spring…

While the NAEP is traditionally used to gauge the trajectory of overall educational achievement over time, and while the trajectory has been moderately positive over the decades, the results released last week cannot by any means be interpreted to mean a change of the overall direction of educational achievement.

Indiana’s NAEP scores show biggest decline in math as leaders weigh COVID’s fallout

To their credit, Chalkbeat does mention somewhere buried in the article, that "the bar for achieving proficiency on NAEP tests is generally higher than it is for state exams." Perhaps we would have been better served by Chalkbeat if they had given us data on the percentage of students who scored Basic or above.

From Chalkbeat*
Indiana students’ math and reading scores on “the nation’s report card” declined from pre-pandemic results, with the state’s average math scores declining the most.

Scores released Monday from the most recent National Assessment Educational Progress — or NAEP — showed that 33% of fourth graders and 31% of eighth graders were proficient or better in reading, while 40% of fourth graders and 30% of eighth graders were proficient or better in math.

Those proficiency rates were lower than in 2019 except in fourth grade reading, where the rates are statistically about the same as in 2019.

Indiana’s average reading scores were around the national average this year, and math scores were higher than the national average scores.

Your All-Purpose NAEP News Release

From Curmudgucation
As always, the main lesson of NAEP is that contrary to the expectations of so many policy wonks, cold hard data does not actually solve a thing.

The NAEP remains a data-rich Rorschach test that tells us far more about the people interpreting the data than it does about the people from whom the data was collected. Button up your overcoat, prepare for greater-than-usual pearl-clutching and solution-pitching from all the folks who still think the pandemic shutdown is a great opportunity to do [whatever it is they have already been trying to do].


The Teacher Exodus Continues Whether You Care or Not

Reformers are working hard to privatize all education. One of their goals is to remove those pesky professionals (who actually know something about teaching, learning, and child development) from the schools.

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Remember when federal, state and local governments actually seemed poised to do something about the great teacher exodus plaguing our schools?

With an influx of money earmarked to help schools recover from the pandemic, many expected pay raises and bonuses to keep experienced teachers in the classroom.

Ha! That didn’t happen!

Not in most places.

In fact, the very idea seems ludicrous now – and this was being discussed like it was a foregone conclusion just a few months ago at the beginning of the summer.

So what happened?

We found a cheaper way.

Just cut requirements to become a teacher.

Get more college students to enter the field even if they’re bound to run away screaming after a few years in.

It doesn’t matter – as long as we can keep them coming.

The young and dumb.

Or the old and out of options.

Entice retired teachers to come back and sub. Remove hurdles for anyone from a non-teaching field to step in and become a teacher – even military veterans because there’s so much overlap between battlefield experience and second grade reading.

And in the meantime, more and more classroom teachers with decades of experience under their belts are throwing up their hands and leaving.

Stop and think for a moment.

This is fundamentally absurd.


Arthur Camins: Democrats, It’s Time to Give Up on Charter Schools

"Are you listening, Senator Corey Booker of New Jersey, Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, and other charter allies?"

From Diane Ravitch
It is time for Democrats–voters and the politicians who represent them–to abandon charter schools as a strategy for education improvement or to advance equity. Charter schools, whether for- or non-profit, drain funds from public schools that serve all students, increase segregation, and by design only serve the few. Continuation of tax generated funds for charter schools, all of which are privately governed, support the current broader assault on democracy. That should not be the way forward for democracy loving Democrats. In addition, public support for private alternatives to public education suborns the lie that government cannot be the agency for solving problems.

The United States is tilting sharply toward, if not rushing headlong into, a less equitable, less democratic, more authoritarian, more racially divided, and meaner way of governing and living together. Out-for-youselfism is alarmingly rampant. Sadly, continued bipartisan state and federal support for charter schools that pit parents against one another for limited student slots reflects those tendencies.


Michigan: Parents Go Bonkers Over Mural in School

The education right wing can't seem to tolerate tolerance.

From Diane Ravitch
Thanks to Christine Langhoff for sharing this horrifying video.

It shows parents at Grant Middle School in Grant, Michigan, demanding the removal of a mural painted by a high school student. The mural was meant to make all students feel welcome.

But parents saw frightening symbols in it, such as a T-shirt that was a trans symbol, another that was a gay symbol, others graphics that were allegedly demonic or Satanic.
A high school student's mural angers parents over what they say are hidden messages

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, EdChoice, the Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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