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Statistical Malpractice

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On Monday, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg released the results of a complex, A through F grading system for the city’s public schools, 12 percent of which received a D or F. (See: “50 New York Schools Fail Under Rating System," The New York Times)

Eduwonkette dissects and criticizes the data that the New York City Department of Education, which Eduwonkette said is guilty of “statistical malpractice,” used in compiling the reports.

Eduwonkette highlights what she says are five main flaws: the ignoring of measurement error, arbitrary grade distribution and cutoffs, discrepancies in 6-12 grade schools, poorly constructed comparison groups, and problems with growth models.

Referring to a Bloomberg quote in which he dubbed the reports a “wake-up call” for schools that failed under the new system, Eduwonkette quips:

Through analyzing these data, I’ve concluded that the people in need of a wake-up call work not at F schools, but at the NYC Department of Education.

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FEDERAL CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
Edit | Delete Federal Class Action Law Suit
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE

AT MEMPHIS

LATRICIA WILSON, and )

COREY ROBINSON, individually )

and as representatives of similarly )

situated class members, )

)

Plaintiffs, )

)

v. ) No. 2:07-CV-2490

) Judge Mays

THE TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF, )

EDUCATION )

)

Defendant. )

______________________________________________________


________________________

NOTICE OF APPEARANCE

______________________________________________________


________________________

Michael Markham, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General and Reporter

for the State of Tennessee, hereby gives notice that the Attorney General’s Office represents the

Defendant The Tennessee Department of Education in the above captioned case.

Respectfully Submitted,

ROBERT E. COOPER, JR.

ATTORNEY GENERAL & REPORTER

s/ Michael Markham

Michael Markham, BPR # 22907

Assistant Attorney General

Civil Litigation and State Services Division

P.O. Box 20207

Nashville, TN 37202-0207

(615) 741-1730

Attorney for Defendant.

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Unconstitutional Gateway Exam driving some to crime, drugs By Latricia Wilson | Published Yesterday | Commentaries | Unrated Unconstitutional Gateway Exam driving some to crime, drugs
Latricia Wilson

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I have some serious concerns about the high school graduation requirement (Gateway Exam) that has been administered within the state of Tennessee.
The Gateway Exams are course-level exams for students enrolled in Algebra1, English 10 and Biology. Passing all three course-level exams before exiting the twelfth grade is a mandatory requirement for students that planned to receive a Regular Diploma in the 2004-05 school year and thereafter.

I feel that a test-for-diploma system is not fair to students that are taught year after year by teachers unqualified to teach in core subjects such as English, science and math. The No Child Left Behind Law requires that teachers be qualified to teach these core subjects. Because many teachers are not qualified to the extent they should be, many students have not been properly prepared to pass these exams equally throughout the state of Tennessee.

Another concern that I have is that many school systems suffer from being poorly under-funded. Under-funded schools are unable to obtain high-stake curriculum for high-stake exams. Economic inequalities within the school systems has played a huge role in student’s pass and fail rates of the Gateway Exam.

Thousands of students were unsuccessful at passing the Gateway Exam, and consequently were unable to participate in their graduation ceremony. Being issued Special Diplomas and Certificates of Attendance penalized these students. That’s why I am utterly disgusted and outraged to know that students were being excluded from participating in the graduation ceremony. They were excluded after persevering through thirteen years of school, and passing all other required courses.

Many former students of the Memphis City Schools system in particular turned to drugs, crime and were subjected to longer periods of unemployment. These former students had taken the Gateway exams over a three-year period. Numerous students attended schools that were classified as failing schools according to the No Child Left Behind data.

In Memphis at least half of the high schools have been on the failing list for having low graduation rates and poor test scores six years in a row. I cannot begin to understand how it is that these students have been scapegoated, penalized and tossed aside for the school system’s failures.

I have reviewed the NCLB law several times. I have been unable to locate any such wording that states, “ For the student to be penalized when the system has failed that student.” But somehow the state board officials often say that they are just trying to comply with the No Child Left Behind Law by taking diplomas away from students for failing a test. This state so-called compliance with the No Child Left Behind Law has left thousands of youth behind. I wonder when will the state board of education take responsibility for their actions and stop punishing students for its failures.

Therefore, the state board of education test-for-diploma system should be deemed unconstitutional. In many ways due to the state noncompliance of federal laws, the requirement deprives students of life, liberty and property. The state board of education has overlooked federal laws to uphold a standard. The fourteenth amendment states, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The state board of education should be held accountable for enforcing a law that has systematically denied many students the right to their ownership of a regular high school diploma.

Any child that passes all required subjects k-12 has a right to (his or her) high school diploma. That student has a right to participate in this society. If a child was taught by unqualified teachers, and learned reading and math skills through a second-class curriculum, whose fault is it when they fail to pass the Gateway Exam?

How dare the policymakers play god by depriving these children from higher education by any means when they have failed to meet the standards they have mandated themselves.

(Latricia Wilson is a former Memphis City Schools student who received a specialized diploma after falling short of Gateway Exam math standards. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court on her behalf.) How would you rate the quality of this article? 1 2 3 4 5 Poor Excellent
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Home / The Fly-By / City Reporter Barred at the Gate
State sued over Gateway exams.
BY BIANCA PHILLIPS | AUGUST 23, 2007 Mail Article Print Article Share this page:

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(enlarge)
See also: City Reporter Road Trip
08/23/2007 | Issue 965 - Bianca Phillips Air It Out
08/16/2007 | Issue 964 - Bianca Phillips Don't Free Willy
08/ 9/2007 | Issue 963 - Bianca Phillips More (368)... The Fly-By Fly on the Wall
08/23/2007 | Issue 965 - Chris Davis Q&A: Richard Ranta,
08/23/2007 | Issue 965 - Rachel Stinson The Cheat Sheet
08/23/2007 | Issue 965 - Michael Finger More (1518)... More by Bianca Phillips Road Trip
08/23/2007 | Issue 965 Air It Out
08/16/2007 | Issue 964 Bindis, Yoga, and Curry. Oh My!
08/16/2007 | Issue 964 More (379)... Latricia Wilson should have graduated from Westside High School in 2002. Though she completed all of her coursework, Wilson did not receive her high school diploma because she failed the state's Algebra I Gateway exam. Last month, Wilson filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the State Board of Education to discontinue the use of the Gateway as a graduation requirement. Wilson was diagnosed with a learning disability and would like to see alternative testing that takes learning disabilities into consideration. "We filed on behalf of the students of Tennessee who are similarly situated," says Javier Bailey, Wilson's attorney. "I believe it's unconstitutional to have a standardized test of this nature without recognizing the fact that some students have disabilities." Since the 2001-2002 school year, passing standardized end-of-course Gateway tests has been a state requirement for graduating high school. Students must pass the algebra Gateway exam, as well as exams in English and biology. In 1999, Wilson was diagnosed with a math disability and issued an Individual Education Plan (IEP), a list of accommodations required for students with special education needs. However, Wilson contends that the Gateway exam did not take her special accommodations into account. "I was taking a math resource class, but the rest of my classes were normal," Wilson says. "On the Gateway, I was tested at a higher level in math while I was taking classes at a lower level." Rachel Woods, a spokesperson for the state Department of Education, says special education needs are taken into consideration with Gateway exams. "I think the lawsuit is less about the Gateway and more about Memphis City Schools (MCS) not providing accommodations that are in an IEP for particular students," Woods says. Shawn Pachucki, a spokesperson for MCS, says the school system has no comment. Because she failed the exam, Wilson received a special education diploma, a certificate that is not accepted for entrance at most colleges and technical schools. Wilson had planned on attending cosmetology school to become a television makeup artist. But three weeks into her training at the New Wave Hair Academy, Wilson was told the school's corporate office would not accept her special education diploma. Other schools, like Southwest Tennessee Community College and ITT Tech, would not accept her either. In the 2004-2005 school year, 576 MCS students received special education diplomas. That's roughly 10 percent of the students who finished their high school coursework. "The Gateway exams create an even playing field across the state for all students," Woods says. "It ensures that the Tennessee diploma means something. If you take away that requirement, some students may pass courses just because they have an easy teacher who wants to get them out the door." But for Wilson, the test has created a major hurdle. "This is something that's holding students back from moving forward," Wilson says. "It's holding me back from getting a job, and I can't get into college. Yet I need college to

Of course, we have to change something in our educational system. Because the main reason of such problems rest with the people who created this system not with whose who just followed it.

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