Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Proficient"? Not!! (Can Burmaster Read and Understand)?

An interesting (but not-exactly-news) story in today's Journal-Sentinel.

The bar for labeling a student proficient in reading and math is set lower in Wisconsin than in almost any other state among 26 in a study released Wednesday.

This is "bait-and-switch" writ large, no? "Send 'em to school. But don't expect 'em to read!!! We only want the money."

The study found that "cut scores" - the line between proficient and not proficient - vary widely among the 26 states, casting doubt on the question of what it means when a state says a certain percentage of its students are doing well. Those percentages are central to the way the federal No Child Left Behind education law works.

"Five years into implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, there is no common understanding of what 'proficiency' means. . . . This suggests that the goal of achieving '100 percent proficiency' has no coherent meaning, either," says a summary of the study, issued by the Washington, D.C.-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

There's a REASON that there's no common understanding of "proficiency." Few people in Wisconsin can actually read the word!

Natch, the Wisconsin Deepartmen' ov Publik In-struck-shun's Yapper has a different opinion:

"....we reject that," said Tony Evers, deputy state superintendent of public instruction. "We're not spinning anything. . . . We take testing very seriously in this state. We take setting cut scores very seriously. . . . To say we're not doing anything is baloney."

(A particularly articulate and responsive comment.) /snark

Sorry, Tony. The Feds happen to think otherwise:

The study's findings regarding Wisconsin are separate from, but dovetail with, results from a national testing program released last week by the U.S. Department of Education. Federal researchers concluded that 35% of Wisconsin fourth-graders were proficient in reading, while the figure given by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for testing done a year ago was 81%.

For the Burmaster-lackey-DPI folk who can't read and comprehend, let me summarize:


But all that sophisticated stuff boils down to "politics" in the alleged "minds" at DPI:

"That's the Fordham party line, and we reject that,"

If you think for one second that Evers of DPI is not doing 'political-speak,' then how did this appear in the article?

The Fordham Institute sponsored the study, and the Joyce Foundation, based in Chicago, provided much of the funding. The Fordham Institute - which is not connected to Fordham University - is generally regarded as conservative in its views...

Uh-huh. What is NOT mentioned is that the Joyce Foundation is 'generally regarded as liberal' by what it chooses to fund. Hmmmmmm?

We'll give Ms. Burmaster a week to read and understand the Journal-Sentinel's article.

Let's hope she can pass the test after that.


Peter said...

I wrote about this topic this morning as well. Watch the educrats spend time demonizing and attacking the Fordham Foundation and its funding and connectsions rather than deal with the actual facts.

Lois said...

The levels of reading goals set by any state have very little to do with whether the population can read. Those of us who love to read have children who love to read. Child literacy is linked very closely with parent literacy. In adult and family literacy programs it was found that the money was better spent on adults (who now recognize the value of learning to read)than on families. When they taught the parents to read the enthusiastic parents went home and shared what they learned with their children. It unfortunately did not work the other way around.