The uses of distorted data

In Washington state, the teachers’ union is trying to repeal the new charter school law, reports Shark Blog. The union’s campaign is exploiting statistically meaningless data provided by the American Federation of Teachers to the New York Times. (Scroll down for a photo of Shark’s incredibly cute little boy.)

Chester Finn explains what’s wrong with the AFT-Times’ story in the New York Post. Floyd Flake gets an op-ed rebuttal in the NY Times.

In the Rocky Mountain News, columnist Linda Seebach jumps in too, adding Colorado test scores which show charter students doing as well as students in conventional schools. There are many unmeasured variables, however. Colorado is working on a system to track individual students’ progress, which would make it possible to compare the effectiveness of different schools over time.

Robert Tagorda and The Torch are on the case too. Tagorda provides an accessible link to the Wall St. Journal op-ed by a trio of Harvard professors, who point out that the data also show the superiority of religious schools to public schools, if interpreted in the same manner as the AFT crunched the charter school scores.

Eduwonk has more links.

California released statewide test scores this week. I compared Downtown College Prep, the charter school in my book, to other high schoools in its district, San Jose Unified. But there’s a catch. All the comprehensive high schools in San Jose created spin-off schools for students at high risk of dropping out when the state accountability system went into force. Sending these students to special programs may be educationally sound. But getting rid of the worst students also is a great way to raise test scores in the comprehensive high schools.

Most Downtown College Prep students start out as high-risk students: 88 percent are Hispanic; nearly half aren’t considered fluent in English. More important, most were D and F students in middle school. DCP scores below the comprehensive high schools, but way above the spin-off schools. If the other schools had to average in the scores of their worst students, DCP probably would outscore at least half the comprehensive schools.

Overall, DCP students nearly meet the state average on the graduation exam, which measures basic skills. By 11th grade, 44 percent test at the 50th percentile or above on a nationally normed exam. They score poorly on the test linked to state standards, which is a much harder exam.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Has anyone ever commented on the similarity between Pleasure Island in Pinochio and our progressive public schools?

  2. I can’t say that I’m amazed at how quickly anti-charter forces have exploited the NYT/AFT article. It’s a shame.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    They waited until JJ was out of town.

  4. Mike in Texas says:

    From Joanne’s article

    “Tagorda provides an accessible link to the Wall St. Journal op-ed by a trio of Harvard professors, who point out that the data also show the superiority of religious schools to public schools, if interpreted in the same manner as the AFT crunched the charter school scores. ”

    Religious schools, especially in New Orleans where I grew up, were far superior to the public schools BUT there is a reason: Religious schools do not have to accept everyone and if a kid isn’t achieving or the kid’s parents aren’t motivated enough to pay the tuition the kid is out. Ditto on behavior problems.

  5. Andy Freeman says:

    Why should I want my kid to attend a school where other students are allowed to interfere with my kid’s education?

    Why should I pay for a school that allows such disruption?

  6. Charter schools are babies in the crib. Relatively helpless, underachieving, but with a lot of potential.

    That’s when they’re the easiest for the rats to kill.

  7. Mike in Texas says:

    Something must be wrong with me, I find myself actually agreeing with Andy on something. You should not have to send your child to a school where other kids can disrupt your child’s education BUT you can thank the courts and educrats without any backbone for the fact that exact situation happens.

  8. Steve LaBonne says:

    I’m a little disappointed that it was the AFT pulling this NEA-like crap. I wonder if they would have done it, or at any rate done it quite so disingenuously, before Sandra Feldman’s retirement, let alone in Shanker’s day?

  9. It’s not the AFT, dammit. or even the WFT. In Washington State, K-12 is almost entirely NEW/WEA. To the best of my own knowledge and personal experience (I’m WFT), this is a big WEA push — I’ve not seen anything about it in my newsletters. But then, WFT is mostly Community Colleges, and we’d like to have students with more than a clue in our classes.

  10. Andy Freeman says:

    > You should not have to send your child to a school where other kids can disrupt your child’s education

    Any school that “must take everyone” is a school where where other kids can disrupt your kid’s education.

    So, you’ve got to choose. I’ve revealed my choice. What is MiT’s choice?

  11. Mike in Texas says:

    My choice Andy, as always, is to get the politicians out of deciding what schools should do, how they should be run and what and how they should teach. Turn it over to the professional educators.

  12. Mike in Texas says:

    Andy, where would you send the kids who insist on disrupting the classroom and refusing to learn?

  13. Andy Freeman says:

    > Andy, where would you send the kids who insist on disrupting the classroom and refusing to learn?

    I wouldn’t send them anywhere. Parents who lose free baby-sitting soon figure out that something needs to change.

  14. Andy Freeman says:

    > My choice Andy, as always, is to get the politicians out of deciding what schools should do, how they should be run and what and how they should teach. Turn it over to the professional educators.

    Note that MiT doesn’t answer the question. He knows that it’s wrong to allow one kid to disrupt another’s education, but he’d rather allow that than give up the public school monopoly.

    As to the “education professionals”, MiT has yet to acknowledge that they have significant responsibility for the current failures, that we’ve been doing much of what they’ve recommended for decades.

  15. Mike in Texas says:

    Yes Andy, I do refuse to accept responsibility on behalf of all teachers b/c the responsibility is not ours.

    Do a little research on Texas schools and you’ll discover there is currently a court battle going on over funding in Texas schools where the state of Texas has admitted in court that although it expects schools to have 100% of their students pass the state mandated tests, it is only giving schools 55% of the funding they need to achieve this goal. This is what you get when politicians make the rules. Don’t blame the teachers for the failures of the states.

  16. Andy Freeman says:

    > This is what you get when politicians make the rules.

    MiT continues to ignore teachers responsiblity for said politicians.

    Many state legislatures are dominated by folks who are “highly rated” by teacher unions. The rest have a lot of “highly rated” reps. The same is true of the US Congress.

    “Highly rated” means “does what we want”. And yet, MiT thinks that teachers are not responsible.

    The NEA president spoke at the Dem convention. 275 of the delegates were NEA members.

    And MiT still says that teachers have no responsibility for what the pols they support do.

  17. Mike in Texas says:

    Wow!! Now we have the power to vote not just once but many times. How else would we have elected, all by ourselves, so many “highly rated”?

    Could it be that some of these legislators are doing things to help schools achieve more? Nah!

    >”Highly rated” means “does what we want”.

    Unsubstantiated and nothing more than your opinion.

  18. Andy Freeman says:

    > Wow!! Now we have the power to vote not just once but many times. How else would we have elected, all by ourselves, so many “highly rated”?

    Non sequitor again.

    The fact that “highly rated” pols are extremely common proves that the teachers get a lot of what they want, no matter how the pols are selected.

    > >”Highly rated” means “does what we want”.

    > Unsubstantiated and nothing more than your opinion.

    While I didn’t post supporting data, does MiT want to claim that I’m wrong?

    When a teachers union says that a candidate is “highly rated” or suggests voting for her, what is said union saying about what it expects said candidate to do wrt “teacher issues” if elected?

    While he’s answering, I thought I’d post a link to an NEA legislator score card. They didn’t get everything they wanted, but it sure looks like they think that they had a lot of votes for their position.

    http://capwiz.com/nea/scorecard/?chamber=S&session=1081&x=13&y=11

  19. Mike in Texas says:

    Well Andy, I have to give you credit for learning to post links to support your position. You still haven’t convinced me of the enormous powers of teachers’ unions. So what if they post a scorecard? Aren’t they supposed to represent the interests of their members?

    Keeping score does not equal powerful