Friday, September 21, 2012

Academic Dishonesty

 Walter E. Williams
Many of the nation's colleges and universities have become cesspools of indoctrination, intolerance, academic dishonesty and an "enlightened" form of racism. This is a decades-old trend. In a 1991 speech, Yale President Benno Schmidt warned: "The most serious problems of freedom of expression in our society today exist on our campuses. The assumption seems to be that the purpose of education is to induce correct opinion rather than to search for wisdom and to liberate the mind."

Unfortunately, parents, taxpayers and donors have little knowledge of the extent of the dishonesty and indoctrination. There are several clues for telling whether there's academic dishonesty and indoctrination. One is to see whether a college spends millions for diversity and multiculturalism centers and hires directors of diversity and inclusion, managers of diversity recruitment, associate deans for diversity, and vice presidents of diversity. See whether colleges spend money to indoctrinate incoming freshmen with programs such as "The Tunnel of Oppression," in which, among other things, students call one another vile racial and sexual names in order to develop "oppression awareness."

An American Council of Trustees and Alumni survey in 2004 of 50 selective colleges found that 49 percent of students complained of professors frequently injecting political comments into their courses even if they had nothing to do with the subject, while 46 percent reported that professors used their classrooms to promote their own political views. One English professor told his students that "conservatism champions racism, exploitation and imperialist war." The "critical race studies" program at UCLA School of Law says that its aim is to "transform racial justice advocacy." At an East Coast college, an exam was found with questions such as, "How does the United States 'steal' the resources of other (third world) countries?" The answer marked correct was, "We steal through exploitation." An economics professor told his class, "The United States of America, backed by facts, is the greediest and most selfish country in the world." A Germanic languages professor told his class, "Bush is a moron, a simpleton and an idiot."

A recent National Association of Scholars report, "A Crisis of Competence," reported that the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute found that "more faculty now believe that they should teach their students to be agents of social change than believe that it is important to teach them the classics of Western civilization." Use of public funds for private advocacy not only is academic dishonesty but also borders on criminality.

In today's college climate, we shouldn't be surprised by the outcomes. A survey conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut gave 81 percent of the seniors a D or an F in their knowledge of American history. Many students could not identify Valley Forge, words from the Gettysburg Address or even the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that only 31 percent of college graduates can read and understand a complex book.

A 2007 national survey titled "Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions," by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, found that earning a college degree does little to increase knowledge of America's history. Among the questions asked were: "Who is the commander in chief of the U S. military?" "Name two countries that were our enemies during World War II." The average score among college graduates was 57 percent, or an F. Only 24 percent of college graduates knew the First Amendment prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.

A 2006 survey conducted by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management found that only 24 percent of employers thought graduates of four-year colleges were "excellently prepared" for entry-level positions.

Our sad state of college education proves what my grandmother admonished: "If you're doing something you're not supposed to be doing, you can't do what you're supposed to do."


Britain's mixed-ability classes 'are holding back bright pupils' says head of education watchdog

Bright pupils are losing out due to the ‘curse’ of mixed-ability classes, the head of Ofsted warned yesterday.  Sir Michael Wilshaw said thousands were failing to reach their full potential due to poor teaching methods.

Inspectors will now be critical of schools that do not differentiate between high and low achievers.

This could lead to schools falling into the new category of ‘requires improvement’ (which replaces the old ‘satisfactory’ description), or even being labelled ‘inadequate’.

Statistics published following a  Parliamentary question show that  55 per cent of lessons in English state secondary schools last year involved children with different academic needs.

Ofsted cannot force schools to adopt setting – grouping pupils according to their academic ability in single subjects – or streaming, where ability groups cover most or all subjects.

However, Sir Michael’s intervention is likely to make headteachers rethink their practice of mixed ability classes for fear of being marked down in future inspections.

The chief inspector of schools said that of the brightest pupils at primary schools, about one in five did not go on to achieve top grades at GCSE.  ‘It’s a combination of low expectations of what these youngsters can achieve, that their progress is not sufficiently tracked, and what I would call and have done ever since I have been a teacher the curse of mixed-ability classes without mixed-ability teaching,’ he said.

The former head said mixed-ability classes did not work ‘unless there is differentiated teaching to groups of schoolchildren in the class’ and ‘individual programmes of work’.

He added it was ‘critical’ that if schools had a youngster with low basic skills next to a youngster with Oxbridge potential, this was ‘taken into account and they are taught by people who are experienced and good at teaching mixed-ability classes’.

He admitted it will be ‘hugely difficult’ for schools to tailor the same lesson to both the brightest and less able pupils.  Many schools had recognised this and ‘moved towards setting arrangements’, he said.

Early entry for GCSEs was also ‘limiting the potential of our brightest pupils’, Sir Michael warned.

Many achieve poorer grades and some stop studying core subjects altogether.

Ofsted figures show that about a third of pupils are now entered early for English and maths – more than 200,000 in each subject.

Sir Michael said: ‘We will be critical of schools using early entry, except where they are absolutely confident that youngsters are reaching their full potential. By full potential, we means A* and As if they are bright.’


Australian private schools do add value

Literacy gaps  and socio-economic status

As a result of the Gonski report and the recent budget cuts to NSW schools, the relative quality and importance of non-government schools to education in Australia has again been questioned.

The most recent issue of the journal Australian Economic Papers has an article by Paul Miller and Derby Voon comparing the performance of government and non-government schools in the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy) tests.

The objective of Miller and Voon’s analysis was to determine the extent to which differences in performance between school sectors can be attributed to the different characteristics of their students, including socio-economic status and gender. Their article builds upon other published research papers that use data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) and the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA). The majority of these studies find that socio-economic status does not completely explain school sector differences.

Miller and Voon estimate and compare the contribution of socio-economic status to NAPLAN performance in the different sectors. They find that for Year 3 students, the main effect of socio-economic status is similar in each sector and in each aspect of the NAPLAN tests (approximate r2 = 0.3, a figure that corresponds with the strength of the relationship found between socio-economic status and student performance over the last several decades). The picture changes in high school, however. Among Year 9 students, the impact of socio-economic status is significantly higher in independent schools than in Catholic or government schools.

Overall, the results support the findings of Gary Marks’ studies – the superior test results of non-government schools cannot be fully accounted for by the higher average socio-economic status of their students. There is a ‘moderate value-added effect’ of a school sector once student intake characteristics are controlled.

One limitation of Miller and Voon’s study is that it does not account for the prior ability levels of students. It is well known that literacy gaps exist between students of differing socio-economic status when they begin school. It is therefore likely that students in schools with a lower average socio-economic status have started school with lower literacy levels than their more advantaged counterparts. A similar study comparing the growth in scores between NAPLAN tests in years 3 to 5 and years 7 to 9 would be instructive.


No comments: