x(squared)2 + 2x – 8 = 0

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/education/10remedial.html?hpw

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/business/economy/05view.html?hpw

Until this morning, I was beginning to think it would not be in my lifetime where anyone thought to compare results, outcomes and unanticipated consequences of educational change in the classroom.  My friends who are teachers and/or  adjunct professors at various community colleges and universities  have shared the sentiment in the above article with me. At first I assumed it was the typical teacher/professor gripe upon grading assignments which indicated we did not teach what we thought we taught and then realized this was not the case.  The complaint was coming from too many different people in too many different places and TOO OFTEN to be an off moment (teachers and professors are merely mortal after all).

At least in a few places, schools of all kinds are being held accountable to what they produced, not just how much they produce……because, in reality, the marketing talk from all schools, especially  charter schools should be much more transparent.   Being able to graduate high school in America is such a low bar it really is not much to be proud of anymore for students or the teachers who help the students get to graduation.  It has been said to me by many teaching friends, there just is not that same level of fulfillment of achievement when students graduate each year.

“You’re always very excited with the kids who are crying on graduation day, assuming they are going on to bigger and better things,” said Josh Thomases, who oversees academic programs for the city’s education department. “But heretofore that assumption has been largely untested.”

“For the school’s own survival you are going to help kids get over that hurdle,” he (Mr. Gaskins) said. “But they may not have a solid enough base to really show they’ve mastered the subject.”

In most school systems, what happens to students like Ms. Croslen after they obtain their diplomas is of little concern. But the New York City Department of Education acknowledges that despite rising graduation rates, many graduates lack basic skills, and it is trying to do something about it.

Considering the data mining we can do for everything else in this country, tracking high school graduates should be simple – probably less complex than anything Fedex or UPS does on a daily basis.

This year, for the first time, it has sent detailed reports to all of its high schools, telling them just how many of their students who arrived at the city’s public colleges needed remedial courses, as well as how many stayed enrolled after their first semester. The reports go beyond the basic measure of a school’s success — the percentage of students who earn a diploma — to let educators know whether they have been preparing those students for college or simply churning them out.

Illinois began tracking how its high school graduates fared in college several years ago, after dismaying reports about freshmen floundering at state schools. Officials in Denver and Philadelphia are now following suit.

Until this article, I was always speculating, based on what I ‘felt’ which was not even a good qualitative measur,e but it was in my gut.   I DO NOT feel vindicated, in fact, I feel horrified to know so few were concerned until now about the quality of students we have been letting graduate.  As I have stated before in other blogs, betraying students and their parents trust in what they believe they are learning is the biggest disgrace of all.

Unfortunately, many teachers and principals are okay with the numbers racket and not being truthful because, at the end of the day, as I have been told, it is just a job and I should not take it so seriously.  For me, education is a serious affair since the students I teach will one day be tailors for NASA uniforms in space exploration, mechanics for electric cars, neurologists with lasers, farmers to feed a nation healthy and local food, etc.  Teaching is not just a job – it is a calling, but not for game players.  I have given up teaching jobs which required too much playing with the grades and/or lying  for the simple reason I have to go home and live with myself and see myself in the mirror in the morning.  My experience with charter schools indicates it is about the API and AYP numbers, which is how the school is judged, not the ultimate outcome of what the students graduating high school go on to achieve.  Thankfully, Arne Duncan and President Obama have indicated I was onto something by stating what is important is how many young adults we GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE.  Now, those are numbers I will watch.

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