Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New NAEP data out -- but "fudged"

White-Black math gaps getting worse. And even national educators don’t depict the situation properly!

The National Assessment of Educational Progress just released new data in the web on the testing of the nation’s students in reading and mathematics in 2009. Among other things, the release has this very clear statement from the National Assessment Governing Board about the real desired level of student performance.

That is a very good statement. It agrees very well with data that shows grade 8 NAEP reading and math proficiency rates compare remarkably well to the percentages of students who are on track for college and careers according to EXPLORE test results from Kentucky.

However, the information in the web also includes more, such as this disturbing graph, cut and pasted from one of the web pages with the title added (highlighted in green - title was off screen when the screen shot was taken). Tech Note: Screen shot taken Nobember 20, 2010, of “National Results, 5 of 9, Tab “National Results Grades 4 & 8,” from here.

Note that this says in 2009 only 42 percent of the whites were "Proficient" and only 15 percent of blacks were, for a gap of 27 points. Back in 1990, the gap was only 13 points.

The graph also has the understatement of the century, claiming that the gaps, “have not been reduced.” I guess not. They have GROWN dramatically!

But, there is an even BIGGER problem with this graph. It IGNORES all the additional students who scored better than “Proficient,” at the level NAEP calls “Advanced.” That’s the wrong way to present the data on gaps.

Let’s make that crystal clear. Here is a graph I assembled today using data downloaded from the NAEP Data Explorer. This graph includes ALL students who scored at or above NAEP Proficient on NAEP grade 4 math.

Now we see the real black-white grade 4 math performance gap is 50 minus 15, or 35 points, 8 points higher (about 30 percent worse) than the 27 point difference web page graph owns up to!

The difference is that virtually no blacks score “Advanced,” while about 8 percent of the whites do.

Using the ‘right stuff,’ the gap back in 1990 was only one point higher than the misleading impression created by the NAEP’s graph in the web.

Anyway, the basic message stays the same. The gaps are not only very bad – they are getting worse. So, here are some questions:

Why do educators in Kentucky continue to try to fool us by citing numbers for NAEP “Basic” as though this is a suitable performance target when our own testing data from EXPLORE and even the people who run the NAEP testing program say NO, It ISN’T!

And, why did national educators get their gap depiction wrong, too? Was it just a statistical error, or something more?

Common educators – Let’s stop the spin – NOW! The gaps are VERY serious, and they are getting WORSE! And, our kids deserve to have the situation portrayed accurately.


Tens of thousands of foreign students to be barred from Britain in bid to cut immigration numbers

Tens of thousands of foreign students will be barred from studying at private colleges to help slash immigration and curb the growing abuse of the system, the Home Secretary will signal today. Theresa May will launch a review of student visas amid concerns that almost half the migrants who come to study in the UK each year are not on degree courses but a range of lesser qualifications such as A-levels and even GCSEs.

Mrs May will question whether they are the "brightest and the best" that the country wants and will make them a key target for cutting numbers after pledging to protect those wanting to study degrees. It comes as separate figures revealed there has been a 40 per cent rise in the number of bogus colleges, most of which offer non-degree or language courses.

The Home Secretary will announce the review as she unveils what the annual cap on migrant workers will be next year. Along with other measures, the cap is expected to limit numbers arriving to around 40,000 and is the first move to meet David Cameron's pledge of bringing overall net migration down from 196,000 to the "tens of thousands".

Yesterday Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, appeared to be concerned about plans to restrict students after he was pictured clutching notes outside 10 Downing Street.

Mr Cable has been the Cabinet's most vocal critic of the various measures to cut immigration and the notes seemed to echo previous concerns that curbing students would damage the country's reputation in the world.

They also appeared to remind colleagues that foreign students bring income to universities and colleges and that changing rules that allow students to look for work after their degree was wrong.

The Government's chief immigration adviser warned last week that any cut in foreign workers will only have a limited impact and that the number of students from outside the EU will have to be halved if the target is to be met.

Ministers have been under pressure from university leaders and some Cabinet members who fear that restrictions on student numbers will damage the UK's reputation as a world-leading centre for education, as well as cutting the lucrative funds brought in by foreign students.

However, around 130,000 foreign students who came in the year to March were not here to study degrees, almost half the near 280,000 non-EU students who arrived. Of those, more than 90,000 attended a private college to study anything from GCSEs to vocational qualifications. Thousands more attended language schools. The rest either attended established further education colleges or schools.


British teachers to bring back old-fashioned reading tests

Six-year-olds will be tested on their ability to read words such as ‘cat’, ‘zoo’, and ‘pride’ as part of a return to traditional teaching.

Ministers yesterday gave details of back-to-basics plans to run reading tests after one year of formal schooling. The ten-minute ‘informal tests’ will be based on phonics – where pupils learn the sounds of letters and groups of letters before putting them together.

It is a move away from ‘trendy’ teaching methods which have been blamed on the decline of youngsters’ grasp of the 3Rs.

At present, pupils in England are assessed in Year 2 by their teachers in English, maths and science. Around one in six seven-year-olds and one in five 11-year-olds fail to reach the levels expected of their age group in reading, according to official statistics.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘We are determined to raise literacy standards in our schools, especially of those not achieving the expected level.’ He said it would be ‘impossible’ for schools to drill pupils to pass the new test.

Some teachers are unconvinced by the move. Martin Johnson, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘There is a huge consensus that reading is best taught using a mixture of methods, but the Government ignores the evidence in favour of its outdated hobby-horses.’


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