Consider this puzzle: in 2007, the average scale score on the New York State ELA Test was 661. In 2008, it is also 661. Yet the overall level of proficiency has increased by 3 percentage points, from 68% to 71%. How is this possible?When we measure student achievement solely based on the proportion of students who have jumped over a bar, we can end up with pretty misleading picture of student performance.Take a look at grades 3, 5, and 8 in the graph below, which shows the change in ELA average scales scores and passing rates for New ...

"No one should be surprised to see these kind of gains because there have been significant investments at the state and local level.""I'm sure the people will say the test is easier. Take the test. Look at it yourself." New York State Commissioner Richard Mills is on the offensive and doing his best to make sure that we all believe that the enormous NY state gains are not illusory. He's even put together a cute story about why performance is up:* State invested an additional $3.4B in support for schools over 2 years.* New grade by grade curriculum ...

I really appreciate the opportunity to join all of you here at Disney World. I can't wait to get over to the Magic Kingdom. I just love cartoon characters; outlandish fairy tales; and wild, stomach-churning roller coaster rides.-Mayor Bloomberg, Excellence in Action Summit If you like fairy tales, today is your day. Overnight, the majority of kids in New York City have become proficient readers (up 7 percentage points to 58%) and mathematicians (up 9 percentage points to 74%). Apparently, scores are up even more in Buffalo, Yonkers, and Rochester. Here's Elizabeth Green's article in the NY Sun, Mayor ...

Brian Jacob teaches at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He has studied a wide range of education policy topics, including school choice, housing voucher programs, neighborhood and peer effects, educational accountability programs, and teacher labor markets. If you're interested in Chicago school reform, Jacob is a good place to turn. Kevin Carey will also be happy to know that he keeps a model website, and most of his papers are available there.Previously on this blog, I've discussed Jacob's studies of Chicago school choice, which find no effects on test scores at the elementary ...

If you're not already enjoying Richard Whitmire's new gender blog, you could be. Yesterday he wrote that KIPP "is an important player in the boy troubles" because boys at KIPP start 5th grade behind the girls, but catch up to them by 7th grade.This may very well be true, but there's another KIPP gender story that has received less attention: many KIPP schools have non-trivial gender imbalances and lose boys at a faster rate than they lose girls. Certainly I'm not the first to point this out, as the San Francisco Schools blog reported a year ago that African-American ...

If you'd ever bumped your head up against test score distributions for entering kindergarteners, you already knew that NYC's shift to a uniform cutoff for gifted admissions - the 90th percentile - could only hurt poor and minority kids' access to gifted programs. So many of you were unsurprised in April when I analyzed the new gifted and talented data, and found that poor and minority kids' access to gifted and talented programs had been seriously diminished. (See maps here.) Kudos to Elissa Gootman and Robert Gebeloff at the New York Times, who pushed the G&T issue out onto ...

William Deresiewicz, a Yale English prof for the last 10 years, has written a downright haunting essay in The American Scholar on the many ways that elite colleges fall short. He charges that elite colleges:1) "Teach students to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League or equivalent school weren’t worth talking to, regardless of their class."2) Inculcate a false sense of self-worth ("Getting to an elite college, being at an elite college, and going on from an elite college—all involve numerical rankings: SAT, GPA, GRE. You learn to think of yourself in ...

Fordham's new study on how high achievers have fared under No Child Left Behind is out. (See NYT coverage here.) Here's the main story:* While the nation's lowest-achieving youngsters made rapid gains [on NAEP] from 2000 to 2007, the performance of top students was languid. Children at the 10th percentile of achievement (the bottom 10 percent of students) have shown solid progress in fourth grade reading and math and in eighth grade math since 2000, but those at the 90th percentile have made minimal gains.* This pattern - big gains for low achievers and lesser ones for high achievers - ...

Leonard Sax, everyone's favorite advocate of gender-based education, has a commentary in this week's Ed Week, "Where the Girls Aren't: What the Media Missed in the AAUW's Report on Gender Equity." Here's the central argument:"There is a real gender gap, and it’s growing rapidly, but that gap has little to do with graduation rates or college-entrance rates, parameters that are given great emphasis in the report. The real gender gap is not in ability but in motivation—not in what girls and boys can do, but in what girls and boys want to do: specifically, in what they ...

Richard Whitmire, USA Today reporter and President of the Education Writers Association, has kicked off a new blog called "Why Boys Fail."Whitmire has a theory about why girls have pulled ahead in higher education: "as the world has become more verbal, schools have allowed boys to slip behind in literacy skills." Whitmire's hypothesis is intriguing, and the changing demands of schools, higher education, and the workplace deserve more attention.But if we look at long-term NAEP reading trends, we see that girls have always had an advantage over boys in reading. In 4th and 8th grade, boys have caught ...


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