Saturday, January 15, 2005

And you thought Shakespeare could write...

Awesome article from WaPo about the new writing section of the SAT. If the article is any indication, there's going to be a lot of controversy over the scoring.

Money quote from Michael Dobbs' article:

The big question is whether scorers trained to speed-read hundreds of essays will recognize exceptional writing when it comes across their computer screens. A mock scoring session conducted by the Princeton Review, a company that prepares students for the SAT and other high-stakes admissions tests, suggested that outstanding writers such as William Shakespeare would do poorly on the test because they would refuse to write according to the formula.

"Shakespeare would have done just fine on one of these tests," counters Vickers, without promising a 6 for the Bard.


No six for Shakespeare-- think he'll get into Harvard?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Links

Joe Thomas, who posted the hillarious Rodney Dangerfield quote in a comment the other day, has a great website called Shutupandteach.com. The website is named for the general message he gets from policymakers whenever he protests their myopic plans for "reform." Check it out.

I've also added a link to Dave Shearon. I've been reading his excellent blog for awhile and only recently realized it wasn't on my blogroll. Sorry about that, Dave, but there it is.

And finally, I was pleased to hear that Seeing the Forest added me to their mile long blogroll. It's a blog that's got a lot more than education so I'll wait to add it to my blogroll until I figure out how to do categories. For now, you'll find only education sites and blogs in my roll. At any rate, it's a good read, check it out, too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Feeling snarky ... and a little confused

Well, folks, I'm confused.

First, Eduwonk tells me I'm reading the wrong polls (insinuating of course that people really do love NCLB).

Then, today, he links to an op-ed by NYT columnist Samuel Freedman, who writes:

Polling last fall by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington research group that focuses on African-American issues, found that 23 percent of blacks rated No Child Left Behind as good or excellent, while 67 percent called it fair or poor. (The corresponding figures for all respondents, regardless of race, were 32 and 56.)


So I suppose that poll -- like the PDK/Gallup one I cited -- was a push poll, too? Please.

The point is simple. In every poll I've seen -- by conservative, liberal, or centrist organizations -- the majority of respondents don't know much about NCLB. I'm convinced that when they do -- because a neighborhood school is closed or their child is held back because of failure on one test -- they won't like it. (As evidenced by the two polls cited above, those who do know about it, beyond its name, already don't like it.) Apparently the Department of Education agrees with me or they wouldn't spend $700,000 making "public service announcements" to convince us.

Eduwonk tells me that I can't deal with the fact that so many on the left support NCLB. First of all, I doubt the claim. Secondly, so what? I seem to recall dozens of liberals that supported the War in Iraq. How's that been going lately?

And finally, thanks Eduwonk, for introducing me to my new favorite word: snarky. It's how I feel when I think about No Child Left Behind.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Wonks and polls

Eduwonk writes,

Education at the Brink apparently doesn't read public opinion polls, even the profligate spending Bushies couldn't have paid that many people $240K.


No, they paid one. And he probably didn't have that much of an impact, because the best poll I've found (by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa)-- I do read them occassionally, but unlike the full time wonks out there, I teach -- reports that people don't support it quite so much as Eduwonk might expect.

When asked...

According to the NCLB Act, determining whether a public school is or is not in need of improvement will be based on the performance of its students on a single statewide test. In your opinion, will a single test provide a fair picture of whether or not a school needs improvement?


... 67% said no. The Bushies better start giving a few more people a quarter mil to improve those numbers -- or fix NCLB. I'd choose the latter. They could start by having a more nuanced assessment system. After all, 67% of people think a single test is an unfair assessment. Or does Eduwonk not read polls?

A very expensive porkchop

Thank you, Joe Thomas, for the best comment ever in the short history of this blog. In regards to yesterday's post about Armstrong "Pimpdaddy" Williams, Mr. Thomas wrote:

The whole thing is an new take on an old Rodney Dagerfield joke.

"I was an ugly kid... and ugly kid, I tell ya. I was so ugly my parents had to tie a porkchop around my neck just so the dog would play with me."

The president merely tied a $240,000 porkchop around NCLB and found someone that would tout it.


Well done. Well said. Joe, please post your comments here frequently.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Pimping for NCLB

The story about Armstrong Williams has legs. This morning on Meet the Press, Tim Russert and a panelist of journalists discussed Williams' acceptance of a quarter million dollars to pimp No Child Left Behind:

MR. YORK: You know, No Child Left Behind--a lot of conservatives hated it; a lot of Democrats hated it. The only way you could get somebody to say something nice about it is pay them $240,000.

MR. HUNT: Well, and they did it, of course, in a very sneaky way. It was funneled through a PR firm, Ketchum PR firm, so they knew exactly what they...

MS. MITCHELL: It was laundered.

MR. HUNT: Yeah. They knew exactly what they were doing.

Andrea Mitchell was half joking, but half not. The Administration has had to be very sneaky -- probably even illegal -- to win the grudging public support for NCLB that they've received so far. Without the propaganda, and with stiff punishments for neighborhood schools around the corner, it'll be very interesting to see what happens to public opinion of the controversial act.

Harry Reid and other Senate Dems are calling for the Education Dept. to take back the money they gave Williams.

When asked if people might think that he had sold his opinions to the government, Williams responded, "It's fair for someone to make that assessment." Education Secretary Rod Paige, a Bush appointee, knew about the payments and did not insist on disclsure.
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