posted by Mark Moore (Moderator) at Wednesday, August 03, 2005
We are being deluged with a series of media reports that quote stats to support the claim that recent education reforms are working.The most recent stat is that there has been a 108% increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests for exemption from college courses.Thr Associated Press article has Governor Huckabee saying that the increased number of test takers proves education reforms are working. The AP also notes that Ken James, head of the state Education Department, said Arkansas students are on the right road because taking an AP exam is a predictor of later success. But the real reason for the increase in test takers (not test scores) may have been summed up best by KATV blogger Don1 "Two things changed in this years AP testing. 1) The test were free, instead of the $80 per test in years past.2) In the past, the AP classes were automatically graded on a 5 point scale for their GPA regardless if they took the test or not. This year the test were free because the state make it mandatory for students to take the test in order to receive grading on the 5 point scale. "It is clear that Don1 has it right. The increase in the number of test takers is because it is "free" (that is, non-interested taxpayers are now footing the bill), and because it is now mandatory in situations where it was formerly optional.For another example of how politicans are using cooked books to claim their education reforms are "working here is what really happened on the state Benchmarks test: The first year it came out, the state benchmark tests were so hard that only the very best 8th graders could hope to pass them. The state would not tell teachers much about what would be tested. Each year the test has gotten easier and the materials to prepare for them more abundant and specific. Then politicians use the "rising test scores" to say that their big power grab is "working". Someday I will write an article about what is being lost when the state grades a school on a single high value test that covers only English and Math. I will write an article on what is being lost when the score is kept by a test that covers processes and skills at the expense of passing on a core body of knowledge from one generation to the next.As far as just taking a test being a future predictor of success, the claim is ridiculous in a context where the test is being pushed on people by the government rather than pursued by individuals based on self-initiative and merit. What if the government made everyone take the test for free, even drop-outs, in order to get a drivers license. Would that be a future predictor of greater success or would it be an artifact of the government pushing an expanded pool of people to participate? The answer in that case is obvious, and so is the answer in this case- whatever the spinners try to sell you.
Essentially you are right about why the number of AP test takers went up. However...You said, "For another example of how politicans are using cooked books to claim their education reforms are "working"..."This doesn't look to me like "politicians" are doing anything. It looks more like the "educucrats" and the bureaucrats are working a scam on the ignorant, inexperienced, term-limited chumps we call legislators so that they can justify their sorry existence.Instead of blaming our politicians for everything, why not start looking at the bureaucrats who are the ones who really benefited with the shift of power that came with term limits.
anonymous says "Instead of blaming our politicians for everything, why not start looking at the bureaucrats who are the ones who really benefited with the shift of power that came with term limits."Just one question Anonymous. Who do the bureaucrats work for(besides special interests)? It wouldn't be those poor innocent politicians would it?
How did you know what I was going to say knowitall?Also, who is forcing those politicans to talk to the papers about how great these over-hyped programs are working?
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