Grading schools

North Carolina is about the give all it’s schools A-F grades.  Of course, most of what they will end up grading is the socio-economic status of the parents and neighborhood:

Grades for elementary and middle schools are based largely on standardized test results: 80 percent of the grade reflects tests taken last year; 20 percent is based on a measurement of student growth, or how much students learn year-over-year. High school grades are based on standardized test results, graduation rates, and the percentage of students who pass Math III.

Wake Superintendent James Merrill plans to talk about the grades in his State of the Schools speech Wednesday evening.

Durham Superintendent Bert L’Homme warned last month that the county should be prepared for mostly D’s and F’s, even though some of those same schools exceeded expected growth.  [emphases mine]

Needless, to say, this Republican-sponsored plan is absolutely moronic.  Pretty much anybody who knows anything at all about education realizes that these scores will reflect far more on the SES of the children attending than anything the school is or is not doing.  My State Senator, Josh Stein, captures this perfectly in a FB post:

The A-F school performance grading system, which was reported in today’s N&O (http://www.newsobserver.com/…/4528291_nc-school-districts-s…) will only further demoralize teachers because the grades do not reflect how well teachers are teaching. It measures instead how well students score on year-end tests, regardless of whether the students learned anything that year or not.

I believe that we should measure what we value – student learning.

Under current law, a school can dramatically improve student learning, even imparting two grades worth of knowledge in a single year. But if the students started the year three years behind, the law considers that school a failure because the students didn’t test at grade level. [emphasis mine]

That’s ridiculous. We should praise a school that is able to move students forward, especially those who start out behind grade level.

Senate Bill 30 will rectify this problem by recognizing schools whose students learn during the year; it places a much greater value on student growth. In the process, parents will have a more accurate assessment of their kid’s school and teachers will not be further demoralized.

Will love to see how much support Stein’s bill gets from Republicans.  Not optimistic considering this is the group that passed the original bill in the first place.

Race and the War on Drugs

Courtesy of Vox:

I don’t think there’s actually all that much individual-level racism going on that causes this, but it is quite fair to conclude, that our criminal justice system and the War on Drugs, as presently constituted are inherently racist.  Or as the Sentencing Project puts it:

What’s behind this disparity? The Sentencing Project explains: “Myriad criminal justice policies that appear to be race-neutral collide with broader socioeconomic patterns to create a disparate racial impact. Policing policies and sentencing laws are two key sources of racial inequality.”

Photo of the day

This Behold gallery of a series on working dogs is awesome.  Dog lovers should definitely check them all out:’

1

Over the Mountain, 2014.

Andrew Fladeboe

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