Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Argument with a Reformer (Hypothetical)

Public schools are failing.

Chicken Little rides again.

Schools are terrible. We must do something.

Mmm, hmm. How do you know?

Everyone knows. Kids leave school and are unable to find a job.

How do you know?

Everyone knows. Inner city schools are the worst.

How do you know?

The data shows it! (Hot damn, slam down, public school advocates can’t argue with data.)

Let’s talk about data. Where does it come from?

We get it from the states. They do annual testing, as required by federal law, and the results clearly show our schools are failing.

Now we’re getting to it.

How can you argue with data?

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Wish I had said that, but Mark Twain beat me to it.

But I’ve got data, based upon the latest, greatest testing.

Yes, you do. Data generated by a test so bad that all a student has to do is answer 28% of the questions correct and you say that’s a pass. Data generated by a test that is so bad that you have to norm the results. For folks who don’t know the lingo, that means that states curve the results.

Shut your mouth.

A test so bad … but what you do is worse. You set the pass rates at predetermined levels. You have data that was designed to be what you wanted it to be. Rather than give a fair test, you decided that a certain percentage of students will pass and the rest fail, no matter how they actually perform. To cover your tracks, you make the test incredibly difficult so no student can pass. Even the student with an IQ of 225 and should be several grade levels ahead cannot score above the traditional 70%--C level.

Shut your mouth.

In your dreams. I know more, so much more, and I am going to expose you—because I’ve studied the data and I know what it really means.