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How Big a Wonk Are You? Your Education Reform Pop Quiz!


How closely have you been following education reform this year? Here is a pop quiz to see if you are on your toes and following the latest trends. The answers will appear in the first comment below. If you want to do some research, there is a link to the source in each question. After you take the quiz, please share any surprises, insights or ideas that came to you as a result. Better than 50% makes you an official EduWonk!

1. How many of the sixty individuals involved in writing education standards for the nation’s fifty million students are classroom teachers?
a. 0
b. 1
c. 7
d. 23

2. What technological advance is education leader Bill Gates excited about?

a. Educational computer games
b. Virtual teacher collaboration
c. Videotaped lectures
d. Online student portfolios

3. How do charter schools compare with public schools in their math scores?

a. 26% the same, 52% (of charters) better, 22% worse
b. 46% the same, 17% better, 37% worse
c. 74% the same, 20% better, 6% worse
d. 38% the same, 44% better, 18% worse

4. How much greater is the percent of charter school teachers who quit the profession compared to teachers in traditional schools in the same state?

a. 20% more
b. 40% more
c. 100% more
d. 230% more

5. The United States, with 5% of the world’s population, has what percent of the world’s prisoners behind bars?
a. 5%
b. 10%
c. 18%
d. 25%

6. What percent of the nation’s prisoners are Black or Hispanic?
a. 10%
b. 20%
c. 40%
d. 60%

7. Percent of the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation three member Board of Directors that is of color:

a. 0%
b. 33%
c. 66%
d. 100%

8. Percent of Latino children that lack healthcare:

a. 5%
b. 12%
c. 20%
d. 32%

9. Percent of California K-12 students that are Latino:

a. 14%
b. 25%
c. 33%
d. 49%

10. Percent of California students that qualify for free/reduced lunches:

a. 12%
b. 22%
c. 31%
d. 50%

11. Ranking of California’s spending on education in 2008 (prior to recent cuts)

a. 22nd in the nation
b. 37th in the nation
c. 49th in the nation
d. 46th in the nation

12. Amount California spends per year to keep a juvenile inmate incarcerated:

a. $19,000
b. $27,000
c. $53,000
d. $115,000

13. Amount the State of California plans to cut from Education funding this fall to balance the budget without raising taxes (per k-12 student):

a. $1 billion ($165 per child)
b. $2 billion ($330 per child)
c. $4 billion ($660 per child)
d. $6 billion ($1000 per child)

14. Amount the state has already cut from education funding to balance the budget over the past two years:

a. $2 billion ($330 per child)
b. $4 billion ($660 per child)
c. $6 billion ($1,000 per child)
d. $12 billion ($2,000 per child)

15. Proportion of California schools expected to fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress according to NCLB goals in 2010:

a. 1/2
b. 1/3
c. 3/4
d. 1/4

The first "comment" below will contain a list of the correct answers.

Any surprises? Does this give you any new thoughts about education reform? Any further facts or figures we should be aware of?

(special thanks to Jim Horn at the Schools Matter blog for bringing many of these things to light.)



1. b. One math teacher is involved in providing feedback to the draft standards once they are written. No teachers are on the working groups actually drafting the standards.

2. c. Videotaped lectures. He says his own kids have used them – what more proof do we need?

3. b. More than twice as many charter schools have poorer math scores than the public schools to which they provide an alternative.

4. D. Charter school teachers have more than twice the turnover rate of traditional schools.

5. D. Close to 1% of our population is behind bars, and crime rates are higher than in many countries with much lower incarceration rates.

6. D. A Black boy born in 2001 has a more than 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime.

7. A. Likewise the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

8. C. As of a couple of years ago. Likely to be higher now.

9. D. And about 24% of the students are English Language Learners also.

10. D.

11. C. (adjusted for the cost of living).

12. D. More expensive than sending them to Stanford or Harvard.

13. D.

14. D.

15. C.

How did you score? Any surprises? Does this give you any new thoughts about education reform? Any further facts or figures we should be aware of?

Unbelievable . . . I discovered I had some misconceptions and this jarred me out of them. Several links came up broken for me . . . probably my browser. I'll track the articles down, though. Thanks for the eye-opening posting.


Thanks for your comment. I just double-checked the links to the sources and they should all work.

Would you be willing to share what your misconceptions were?

Cute, and intriguing list. I missed several items according to your scoring quide.

That led me to wonder, what's the point of the list? I ask, because some of the items hold lower value than other public positions and reports indicate. These differences could have mislead me from your intended meaning.

I don't want to miss your intention too.

The point of the questions is to provoke thought and discussion among those who might participate.

I did my best to provide what I believe are reliable sources for each and every question. If you have countervailing information, please bring it forward and we can weigh the evidence, and discuss the implications.

Thanks, Anthony, for your clarification. Your sources seem reasonable. We've discussed answers to #1 previously. Perhaps this will be of interest about #2: Gates would perhaps say "Thank you" for considering him an education leader, but I have not heard of him referring to himself as such. Yes, he has talked in interviews, such as with Charlie Rose, about his and his chldren using video recordings, and suggested their use for others to do so also, including through use of PCs in one-on-one public school programs and as illustrations, etc. in digital texts. I don't remember him offering any "proof" of anything aside from "proof of concepts." Interestingly, most of the Gates Foundation funding and influence in education occurs outside of the U.S.

Perhaps their influence is even greater outside the US, but, according to the article to which I linked, "The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent nearly $4 billion between 2000 and 2008 to improve America's high schools and award scholarships, primarily to low-income and minority students."

And whether he calls himself a leader or not, I see him and his foundation as having a great deal of influence here.

This is so sad. It shows how important education is to those we elect to lead our country. Who are these people who feel they know child development and education well enough to be qualified to decide on curriculum? As I see it, one problem we currently have is that over the last twenty to thirty years some things that were taught in high school have moved into middle school and some of the middle school curriculum has moved down to elementary school. So much has been packed into the curriculums that teachers have no time to reteach or to teach to mastery. The curriculum is too broad in all grade levels. Oh yeah, someone has also decided our children no longer need to learn how to write in cursive. They will have trouble when grown when they do not know how to sign their signature as many documents require. How can we get more teachers involved in writing the curriculum?

missed % of CA students that were Hispanic - did not realize already that high. Got the rest, but then I am a policy wonk, as you know

look at info on Charters, then note Duncan and Obama pounding on states to have more charters is one of 2 top priorities they have about education - the other, to demand states link student test scores to teacher evaluations - is equally flawed.

The Bush administration helped move meaningful public education to the intensive care unit. It would be sad if the result of this administration would be to pull the plug on life support.

There is much work to be done in the area of professionalization of teaching.
There is also much work to be done in teacher/parent partnership as a political action tool. My research in 1990 was on teacher empowerment. While we as teachers have made headway in our professional development via NBPTS, we have lost ground in the other areas of the professionalization of teaching, ie...shared decisionmaking school based management; salary which weakens our pool and reduces the male gender (in my opinion); contractual clout thru union activity; effectiveness in school-based politics. Addressing the needs of our students cannot be done without strengthening all components of the professionalization of teaching. Awareness of the issues is definitely the beginning. Thanks for the info.

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