Friday, March 25, 2005

Taking a dump

One of the most insidious aspects of high stakes tests -- and there are many -- is the tendency of schools to "dump" kids just before the week of testing. No one is sure how widespread the practice is, but it seems based on anecdotal evidence that the practice of encouraging students to drop out so that they don't adversely effect a school's rating is quite widespread indeed.

And here is evidence that the practice might be widespread in charter schools as well:

AUSTIN - A state senator wants to know why more than 400 Houston-area charter school students moved to traditional schools in a four-month period leading up to February's state testing.

Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, wrote a letter to Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley this week asking for an investigation into possible "student dumping."

"This figure appears inflated to me, and it is almost as if students are being dumped off onto school districts for the sake of ratings," Gallegos said. "Texas relies heavily on students' academic performance, and this alleged trend could have a profound affect on a school's academic rating."

Gallegos is asking for an audit of student migration trends, whether there was a spike in enrollment in the months leading up to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, and how charter schools report student migration.

...Gallegos is looking for an investigation. He said if the charter schools want to be in the business of teaching, they should be held responsible for their own actions.

"We are talking about keeping a child up to a certain point and then dumping that child due to low performance," he said. "Any way you paint it, that is wrong."


Yes, it is. But you can hardly blame the charters or the public schools for that matter, for dumping students. They're simply gaming the system; under NCLB, their job security is at stake. It's wrong, yes, but definitely easy to understand. This is yet another reason why assessment should be a year round, regular endeavor, not a one-week, high stakes event.

5 Comments:

Blogger EdWonk said...

At the other end of the scale, one finds students opting out of testing altogether. Then the school is punished for not having enough students take the test.

Go figure...

11:32 AM  
Blogger Joe Thomas said...

Another phenomenon of high-stakes testing are "pushouts."

Pushouts are kids who are frustrated with their schools that no longer teach to anything but the test, schools that see their testing dates the way they used to view parent night, schools that are yet afraid to stand and up do what they know they need to do.

Pushouts are kids that simply quit school after being held back, failed, or shuffled around so that the district can stay on the "passing list" as long as possible.

Write this down: NCLB will increase dropouts as students are caught in the midst of ever-changing new state tests, passing levels set unrealistically high, and state legislatures who have under-funded education for decades.

Remember, when schools fail, and they all will in 2014 when EVERY student in America has to pass their state test-- when schools fail they lose money.

As Ed said, go figure...

When did we give up on teaching?

7:57 PM  
Anonymous superdestroyer said...

Joe,

Shouldn’t any reasonable person expect dropouts to increase if standards are increased. Isn't one of the motivations of most right of center education reforms is to stop schools from graduating people who are illiterate.

Also, for teachers to claim that the tests are too hard is laughable. From personal experience with my children, I can tell you that the tests are too easy. If teachers and schools need to cram for such easy tests, it is more an indication that the schools have been promoting and passing students who cannot function at even a minimal level than it is of the horrible distraction of testing.

Some how, I doubt the teachers are giving up having their students reading The Iliad to have their students practice their multiplication tables.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Joe Thomas said...

SD, your indifference toward the students that will drop out because of "reform" is sad.

The old "graduating illiterates" argument is overstated and old. Most of the "stats" cited are really those of special education students,which represent a little over 10% of our student population.

A Down's Syndrome child may never write his/her name. Does that mean they showed no growth their 12 years in school? Should we deny them (and their parents) a diploma?

The privateers bent on profiting off of schools at any cost rage about students in schools lacking the ability to perform at the levels we set for them. They then conveniently forget about them once their new "reforms" are in place.

A recent example is the charter school movement. Charter schools cried foul when their aggregate test scores showed little change from the public schools they were supposedly liberating their students from.

Their excuse? "Many charters serve a niche group of at-risk students. This group distorts the high test scores of other students."

No joke? You think maybe that effect is in play in public schools where we take ALL students?

So, SD, it is better to have some drop out and become a lifelong drain on the economy than to realize that students with an endless combination of skills and talents might have more than one way to show it?

5:45 PM  
Blogger Superdestroyer said...

Joe,

The question is not whether they drop out and become a drain on the economy, they will be a drain whether they complete school or not. The question is whether school is for kids who want to learn or for kids who do not want to learn. Why do so many teachers want to keep kids in school who distract the kids who want to learn?

My question to you is why do you want to cheapen a high school diploma so much that it is basically worthless in the view of society?

7:09 AM  

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