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Texas schools & HISD -- Exposed again

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by SamFisher, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Rod Paige, or should I say, Secretary of Education Rod Paige is pretty much the Ken Lay of the education business at this point. This is only the last in a long line of discrepancies uncovered:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/03/national/03HOUS.html?hp

    All I know is that if Rod Paige were Clinton's education secretary, we'd have a crack team of indpendent counsel on this about five minutes before it broke...
     
  2. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

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    I used to work in a group contracted by the Department of Education. We saw first-hand what education actually means to this administration, i.e., "let them eat cake," that is, Let them get a free ride through school at Yale and Harvard Business School (and still not learn anything).

    I used to say that the administration had strapped our budget onto a missile and launched it into Iraq.

    From what I understand, a lot of teachers are sick of having to teach to the TAAS and not actually educate their students. Not to mention all the other crap.

    Funny thing is, Molly Ivins tried to defend, to a small degree, Bush's record in education. I think she might re-write her chapters on that subject now that the truth is coming out.
     
  3. GreenVegan76

    GreenVegan76 Contributing Member

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    One size doesn't fit all.
     
  4. Trader_Jorge

    Trader_Jorge King of the D&D, The Legend, #1 Ranking
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    At what point does it become incumbent upon the underachievers to improve their performance? I think it is reasonable to expect society to deliver a base level of education in the form of public schooling. This does not remove responsibility and accountability on the part of the student and parents. An education is defined by much more than instruction received in a school. Students must begin to eliminate excuses and assume personal responsibility for their performance. Many underachievers expect the state to simply hold their hand throughout the entire educational process. On top of that, they expect preferential treatment to get into a school. As if that weren't enough, they expect preferential treatment to get a job or to get into graduate school. In their minds, failure is the state's fault -- not their own. This is an unacceptable level of accountability on the part of the students. My solution would be to the following:

    1) Eliminate excuses
    2) Assume personal responsibility for one's actions
    3) Understand that an education is not limited to classroom instruction
    4) Do not expect government handouts or quotas to raise you to the next level -- do it yourself. Eliminate the "gimmie gimmie" mentality
    5) Emphasize and reward grades as much as people emphasize and rewards sports and sporting accomplishments
    6) Instill a value system of hard work -- not hard begging and whining
     
  5. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure what set Jorge off on his recitations of platitudes.

    It is probably just knee jerk GOP thought. Praise Bush for progress, but if it wasn't true, it wasn't important anyway.

    It might be hard for a preppie to understand, but even students in remedial education can be working hard and taking responsibllity.

    I think it is reasonable to expect society to deliver a base level of education in the form of public schooling.[/

    Damn basic I assume. Hasn't Jorge come out against publicly funded colleges? Anything else would make it hard to find good wait staff, shoe shiners and housekeepers for Jorge.
     
  6. Trader_Jorge

    Trader_Jorge King of the D&D, The Legend, #1 Ranking
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    I make a post in which I articulate my beliefs. I attack no one in doing so. My post is responded to by a series of personal attacks. Somehow *I* am the bad guy here? What else is new?

    glynch -- I have never 'come out against publicly funded colleges'. This is just irresponsible speculation intended to discredit me.

    glynch, I anxiously await your apology.
     
  7. Oski2005

    Oski2005 Contributing Member

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    Your ideas don't solve anything Jorge. If students are doing everything right in high school and not prepared for college, how is it entirely their fault? The problem is that education is being watered down. So much emphasis has been placed on the TAAS test that the skills needed for college are not being taught. You basically went off on another tangent. Your argument is so ambigous, you could apply it to anything:

    Problem: "Hey unemployment is high"

    TJ: "1) Eliminate excuses
    2) Assume personal responsibility for one's actions
    3) Understand that an education is not limited to classroom instruction
    4) Do not expect government handouts or quotas to raise you to the next level -- do it yourself. Eliminate the "gimmie gimmie" mentality
    5) Emphasize and reward grades as much as people emphasize and rewards sports and sporting accomplishments
    6) Instill a value system of hard work -- not hard begging and whining"

    Problem: "Hey, the majority of homeless people are military veterans."

    TJ: "1) Eliminate excuses
    2) Assume personal responsibility for one's actions
    3) Understand that an education is not limited to classroom instruction
    4) Do not expect government handouts or quotas to raise you to the next level -- do it yourself. Eliminate the "gimmie gimmie" mentality
    5) Emphasize and reward grades as much as people emphasize and rewards sports and sporting accomplishments
    6) Instill a value system of hard work -- not hard begging and whining"

    etc.


    BTW, of course education isn't limited to the classroom, but where else are students supposed to practice such things as writing research or term papers if they aren't doing it in school?
     
  8. pgabriel

    pgabriel Contributing Member

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    Apparently, he didn't read the article, he just went into the usual rhetoric, no need to respond.
     
  9. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    I'm guessing it becomes incumbent on them concurrently or at some point after it becomes incumbent on Dr. Paige, Governor Bush, and the rest become accountable for their fraudulent claims with regard to the "improvement" of the Texas educational system, all the while teaching a generation of young people a skill set to pass a useless test in lieu of an education.
     
  10. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    I sent this article to my father. He was a teacher in HISD for 37 years before his retirement two years ago. He now teaches English and creative writing in college. I also sent it to my mom who spent 30 years in HISD, 15 of which were as the head of secondary guidance counseling for the district. One of her specialties was academic assessment.

    I haven't heard from my mom yet, but I know what her response will be - the same as my dad's. They have, since its inception, thought that the TAAS was an absolute nightmare. Not only is it not improving the academic ability of students, it is swallowing the entire curriculum.

    It is to the point that 75 percent of a student's education is focused on taking and passing the TAAS test. It was done so that there would be accountibility in education and no one argues that is a bad thing. However, there isn't a teacher out there that thinks an appropriate measure of a chid's scholastic ability is a single test.

    The problem is that the way you determine competancy of teachers and students is the old, slow way. You observe them. You talk with them. Yes, you test them, but that is only part of the process.

    Imagine if the pharmaceutical industry were run this way. They invent a drug. They run tests on it that it is absolutely designed to pass. Then, they take the results to the FDA and say, "See, look how great this drug is." Only problem is when it is held up to standard scientific testing, it fails miserably. Then, the drug company would cliam that its tests are superior and say that the FDA should simply accept it as such.

    Of course, they'd be wrong and there would be a good chance that the drug could cause serious illness or death in millions of unwitting users, but as long as we keep the test, who cares?

    Accountibility in education has been a hot issue for years. Long before there was "no pass, no play," there were arguments over classroom size and standardized testing like SAT's. The problem has always been how to accurately guage the student population and teacher's abilities quickly and efficiently. The simple answer is that there is no way to do it.

    It is a slow, laborious task. I remember my mom's office both at work and at home crammed with cardboard boxes filled with green and white dot matrix printer readouts that had assessment of testing scores and grade reports for hundreds of students. They used to use punch cards with different sets of criteria on them and manually feed them into a computer to read and analyze the results.

    Now, we have much more sophisticated tools for measuring teacher and student skills, yet we've attempted to over simplify the process as a way to save money and it simply isn't working.

    Teachers, business groups, colleges, professors and educational experts all think that Houston's form of standardized testing to determine accountibility in the classroom isn't just a poor measure of student ability, but an absolute destruction of the basic foundations of learning. Instead of students learning how to learn and acquiring the knowledge and basic skills needed for growing and succeeding, they spend hours and hours learning how to take a test that isn't even an accurate guage of their raw abilities.

    It isn't a surprise that students at the best prep schools have no standardized testing. It also isn't a surprise that their teahcers are paid well, their classrooms are smaller in size (many by as much as two-thirds), the curriculum is widely diverse (including math, science and reading but also art, music and social sciences) and no matter what the background of their students (the best one's recruit minorities and impoverished kids to expand diversity programs), they succeed.

    The formula for great education is not rocket science. Reduce the number of students per classroom. Pay the teachers a salary that competes with the marketplace. Diversify the cirriculum to include a wide range of subject mattter. Hire more academic development staff (counselors, coaches, etc) to work with students who have problems - in essence, increase the teacher-to-student ratio.

    We do all of those things already in colleges. Most corporations preach the same concepts: competition, diversification, problem solving, task management, etc. I can't figure out why we haven't gotten the message that the same thing must occcur in our public schools in order for students to improve and compete in the global marketplace.

    If you think a single test will solve that, you don't understand how education works or how children learn.
     
  11. Timing

    Timing Member

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    I'm reminded of the comments of Clueless George during one of his wonderful press conferences on the subject of his master plan some time ago. I remember watching this press conference like it was yesterday.

    Some have claimed that testing somehow distracts from learning. I've heard this excuse since I was the governor of Texas -- oh, you're teaching to test. Well, if a child can pass the reading test, the child has learned to read, as far as I'm concerned. (Applause.)

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030108-4.html
     
  12. Trader_Jorge

    Trader_Jorge King of the D&D, The Legend, #1 Ranking
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    This is exactly the type of attitude that is destroying performance in school. This girl expects to be *spoon fed* the answers. She thinks it is everyone else's responsibility but her own to learn information, study techniques, and work ethic. Look at the way she deflects blame away from herself. DISGUSTING. While she is making excuses for poor performance, other students are taking initiative and putting forth the effort needed to succeed. Other students eliminate excuses and accept personal responsibility.

    If the problem is that the students are passing the standardized tests but failing in college, there is a simple solution. Make the standardized test harder. But you see, this will never happen. It would be wildly discriminatory to those who fail and would [gasp] make students actually put forth effort and work harder in school. It's time to start motivating with the whip instead of the carrot.
     
  13. wizkid83

    wizkid83 Contributing Member

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    I can't believe you're blaming the girl on this. How the heck is she suppose to know that she was learning wrongly. I'm a for raising the standards but it's not the kids problems that the standards aren't high enough. If you're are going to lower quality schools and getting A's in classes, how do you know aren't learning correctly? A big problem of the article is the curriculum is focused on teaching you how to take the test instead of how to learn. For years of high school of that crap will not help you in college where you try to learn to think.

    Also extra curricular activities helps a lot in learing. I learned more in my 3 years of high school debate experience as far thinking ability than I have in all my other classes put together. I can say the same about students that are involved in other clubs in academic challenge, model U.N. academic decathalon and Jets in my school (some other activities I participated in but not extremely involved in ). Because my school have the money to have these clubs, send us to different tournaments all over the city, state and even other states, we were able to learn better. This is different in poorer schools where the real thinking programs doesn't exist.
     
  14. freeflowin'

    freeflowin' Member

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    I had to chime in on this one.

    As a product of the Houston public education system (Elsik High, '97) and a graduate of an "East Coast" university, I can't help but comment.

    - The emphasis on the TAAS exam and other similar standardized tests absolutely degrades the ability of a student to think. I believe it started out as TAAPs in 1990, then became the TAAS circa 1992-1993.

    - Before that, teachers were given freedom in their curriculum to teach students how to think independently – that is, students gained the ability to research, analyze different points of views, read and write convincingly (and uniquely) and provide feedback to the teachers in tangible and intangible ways. There were more independent projects, more emphasis on learning in groups, and more emphasis on the distillation of pertinent information – all pragmatic skills that will serve well at higher institutions of learning and the workplace.

    - Standardized tests, conversely, replaces the individuality of students and their ability to independently formulate answers AND questions by forcing teachers to adopt a uniform curriculum. Now, emphasis is placed upon the ubiquitous “5 paragraph essay” (intro, 3 bullet points, conclusion), memorization of facts, and other rote learning skills that gives students the capabilities to pass exams, and nothing more. It sets a standard, yes. But a standard is also an unconscious ceiling; because the majority, if not all, of classroom time is spent on learning the “requirements” and less on the fostering of knowledge. Standardize examinations is nothing more than a template for the regurgitation of quibbles that is at the mercy of the standard-maker(s).

    - As such, the TAAS, unsurprisingly does give benefit to certain fields of study such as mathematics and some areas of science (introductory biology, chemistry) that requires the memorization of terms, formulas and so on. But again, these skills can only go so far – at higher levels of learning, students who do not know how to come up with answers to unpredictable questions will falter.

    - Raising the standards will do no good. It will merely create better data-crunchers.

    - Students should take it upon themselves to improve their abilities, but without the correct framework, all the effort in the world only leads to futile successes.

    - That is why in the 80s, a lot of comparison were made between the education system of the US versus Asia – how Asia was turning out students who were good at math and science and so on… but I do believe that the problems associated such education, one that relies on a similar premise such as TAAS, is now evident. Society cannot progress if its younger generations only learn how to remember data. Sadly, the powers that be are placing too much emphasis on the knowledge of subjects that are deemed worthy while leaving creativity to the wayside.
     
  15. mrpaige

    mrpaige Contributing Member

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    Having been in college recently for some reason, I did notice that there were a lot of people who really did need to be spoon fed everything. They simply were not willing to make the leap and try something on their own. They wanted to know exactly how to do something, down to format, number of pages, fonts, the whole shebang. If the professor told them that they'd just have to try on their own, they whined mercilessly. When they weren't given the exact answer, they stressed out and largely ended up not getting the work done in any form.

    Professors would get frustrated because the students were simply unwilling to start anything without such detailed instructions that the projects, papers, etc. would all have ended up virtually the same.

    If there are things about the material that aren't being taught that are expected to be known in college, that's a problem. How to write a paper? Sure, that needs to be covered in high school.

    But things like "how to take notes"? Well, geez. How do you teach someone how to take notes? Everyone has their own way. I couldn't imagine someone else trying to use my notes from college. And I am often amazed by other people's notes. It's an individual thing.

    The same for studying. How do you teach studying? What works for me doesn't work for other people. I spent, on average, maybe a half-hour studying for tests in my classes in college. I know other people in my classes who studied for many hours and made worse grades than I did. Clearly, the study methods that work for me aren't going to work for those people.

    College is an adjustment, but a lot of the adjustments are things you have to learn for yourself.

    And speaking of material that is or isn't taught in school, I am consistently amazed by what people claim they were never taught. Going back to my recent college classes, I remember vividly people complaining about not being taught some term or some concept, etc. when I very vividly remember the professor teaching us those very concepts, terms, whatever. Usually it was also in the reading we were clearly expected to be responsible for.

    It wasn't that the attempt to teach wasn't made. The student simply wasn't receptive to learning. Or it just didn't stick with them (I took four semesters of French this summer. I've already forgotten a lot of it).

    Yes, there are many things that aren't being taught in high schools that should be, but there are also a whole lot of people who are being taught but who just aren't bothering to learn.

    So yeah, maybe the girl is to blame for at least some of her problems in college.
     
  16. freeflowin'

    freeflowin' Member

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    it's about teaching students how to think to arrive at their own conclusions (how to take notes, how to decipher lectures, how tos) and not facts and how to take tests - this only feeds that mindset that there is one correct answer to every question and will stunt the student's critical thinking development - and you'll start seeing students who have to be "spoon fed" everything...
     
  17. mrpaige

    mrpaige Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I agree with a lot of the post you made before, but I was writing mine as you posted it and didn't get a chance to see it.

    Of course, I went to UT-Arlington, so not only is it possible that the students were just stupid, but there also were many people who finished high school prior to 1992ish or very soon after that (and I finished HS in 1989).

    So, it can't just be the teaching to the test thing that makes students whiny and wanting to be spoon-fed because the guy who was 45, among others, didn't go through that in high school and was just as whiny as the rest of them..... of course, he was from Arkansas.
     
  18. Supermac34

    Supermac34 President, Von Wafer Fan Club

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    I grew up in public schools through the 90's. I had to take TEAMS and them TAAS.

    One thing I remembered was that I had to take TAAS extra because somwhere around 6th or 7th grade, the switched the grades that took the test.

    Now its the TACS test or whatever.

    They are all the same. I've heard people complain about them, but to me, I always thought they were pretty easy. I don't really remember teachers teaching to the test except for about 2 weeks before we took it.
     
  19. rimbaud

    rimbaud Contributing Member
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    Hey Jorge,

    What about when teachers and administrators actively discourage above-average performance? Or worse, punish success? What about when the teacher doesn't teach and instead tells the class how smart he/she is and how they were much better looking when they were in HS than the students in class. Better yet, how about going to a class every day that doesn't have a teacher? Are those just lazy student excuses? I know you know nothing about the realities often involved, but try to use your imagination.

    The NY Times had another article about HISD cheating and, once again, I was gleeful to see my alma mater in it, but my email is down now and I can't get to it.

    Hey Jeff,

    Did I ever tell you about the countless hours my mother was forced to endure for annual training on how to teach her kids to take the TAAS? In case you forgot, she works with kids who aren't even functional enough to go to anything resembling a school, much less graduate anything...or (most often) be self-sufficient at any point in their lives.
     
  20. Major

    Major Member

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    The spectacular realities of NLCB...

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/12/02/special.ed.testing.ap/index.html

    Special ed students skew test results

    <I>
    EAGLE POINT, Oregon (AP) -- The kids in Michelle Harper's special education class have their own small victories every day -- a temper tantrum stifled, two words rhymed.

    When it comes time to take the standardized tests that the federal government uses to measure public schools, many of Harper's students at White Mountain Middle School merely pick answers at random, not realizing the potentially severe consequences for their school.

    Across the country this year, thousands of schools were deemed "failing" because of the test performance of special ed students.

    The results have provoked feelings of fury, helplessness and amusement in teachers like Harper, who say that because of some of their students' disabilities, there is no realistic way to ever meet the expectations of a new federal law backed by the Bush administration that requires that 99 percent of all children be performing at or above grade level by 2014.

    If schools fail to meet those targets, they risk being taken over by the state or private companies; teachers can lose their jobs.

    "These children are going to plateau at a certain level -- that is the nature of a disability," said Harper, who teaches students with autism, learning disabilities, mental r****dation, Tourette's syndrome, vision and hearing deficiencies and brain injuries. "These kids are not going to grow out of it, not going to grow up and be OK. It's sad, but that is the way it is."

    Special education has been a battleground for years. Parents of special ed students fought long and hard for their children to be included in mainstream classrooms, and for the money to provide them with extra help.

    Now the new law, dubbed No Child Left Behind, has focused even more attention on special education, because of the consequences for entire schools.

    'They can be brought up to grade level'
    The law mandates that schools bring all groups of students up to grade level on standardized reading and math tests, including special ed students and those who do not speak English. If even one of those groups fails to meet progress targets for two years in a row, an entire school can be listed as failing and face an escalating list of sanctions.

    In South Carolina, more than three-fourths of schools were listed as failing. Sandra Lindsay, the state's deputy education secretary, said special education was the most common denominator.

    In Nashville, Tennessee, schools director Pedro Garcia called it "ludicrous, to give a (special ed) student a test that they cannot read or understand, much less know the answer."

    In Oregon, 202 schools reported that their special education students had failed to make the desired progress in reading; 181 said that was true for math.

    The government is defending the special education portion of the law, though officials said some changes are in the works that would give more leeway to the most seriously disabled children and their teachers.

    However, the Education Department does not want to let all special education students and their teachers off the hook, said Ronald Tomalis, acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

    "There have been low expectations for some of these children all along," he said. "And that's not because of mental abilities, but because of poor instruction received in the early grades. We need to challenge schools that these children can achieve. Sure, they will need an intensive program, but they can be brought up to grade level."

    For more seriously disabled children, he said, a proposed change to the law would let 1 percent of all children in a district skip the grade-level exams and instead take a test tailored to their abilities. If they scored well on that alternative, it could be counted in their school's favor.

    "We don't expect these children to take a seventh-grade-level math test if they are having difficulties moving a block from one side of the table to the other," Tomalis said.

    Gaining self-sufficiency
    Oregon mother Cynthia Payne, whose son is severely r****ded, said she sees a need for change in the law.

    "In my hopes and dreams, I would love him to participate, to be a normal kid, but he is not," she said. "And to penalize the school because he is not capable of that is insane. The range of kids in special education is so incredibly broad, and that makes it very difficult to make any kind of statement or box for everyone to fit into."

    Harper and other teachers say that is true in Eagle Point, a suburb of Medford that has a large special education population.

    Bill Fuesahrens, the district's superintendent, said that some special education students can and will be brought to grade level, but that the situation is more complicated for students like those Harper teaches.

    In Harper's classroom, she interrupts her math lessons constantly to ask her sixth- and seventh-graders not to kneel on the floor, to tell them that no, it is not time to go home yet, and to listen patiently to stories that do not involve math.

    It can take about 15 minutes to wade through four or five math problems, because her 12- and-13-year-olds are struggling to master fractions, not the pre-algebra that occupies most seventh- and eighth-graders at the middle school.

    Harper said she measures her students' progress not by their performance on standardized tests but by how they are doing on plans tailored to each youngster. For many of them, the realistic goal is not to work at grade level but to gain as much self-sufficiency as possible, she said.

    "There is no way some of these kids can meet the testing standards," she said. "If they could, they wouldn't be with us in the first place."
    </I>
     
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