by David Safier
I have a bunch of blog-worthy education stories cluttering up my desktop that I know I'll never get to individually, so here's a Friday afternoon collection of ed shorts and links.
- English Language Learners in AZ Graduate at Lowest Rate in Nation. "[O]nly 25 percent of English Language Learners in Arizona graduate high school in four years." The rate in Texas: 58%. In California: 60%. The AZ Dept of Ed. questions the validity of the stats, of course. The 4 hour ELL block where nothing is taught but English — no subject matter — that's required by the state is most probably a factor in the low graduation rates since ELL students don't have the time to take required classes.
- Standardized Testing Costs States $1.7 Billion a Year, Study Says. I wonder if that $1.7 billion figure underrepresents the true financial cost of high stakes test. It probably doesn't count the per-hour cost of school time spent on testing, time that could be used in other ways, and it certainly doesn't count the per-hour cost of school time spent teaching students how to take the tests.
- Philadelphia Principal Describes Fallout of Test-Score Inflation. A Philadelphia high school posted phenomenal rises in student test scores. Praise was heaped on the principal. Other Philly schools were measured against those gains and criticized for only making gradual improvement. The problem is, the scores were almost certainly the result of adult cheating, not increased student achievement.
- Man Blows Whistle on For-Profit College. An admissions supervisor at Education Management Corp (EDMC) which runs for-profit colleges said the college inflated job placement statistics. "They manipulated the job placement rates by counting students working in a job that they did not need the degree for," [Jason] Sobek told ABC News. "In my opinion, it's a wretched fraud." He went on to say the fraud is "intentional. It's the business model." EDMC, of course, calls the allegations "wholly without merit," but it refused to grant ABC News, who carried the story, an interview.
UPDATE: Forgot one: Former Texas education commissioner Robert Scott sparked national revolt against high-stakes testing. George Bush brought Texas-style testing with him to the White House, so it's only fitting that a Texas Education Agency commissioner, Robert Scott, should cause an uproar by calling overuse of high stakes testing a "perversion" of the system. Naturally, he's being attacked as a hypocrite and a liar and . . . I'm sure they'll think up new personal attacks as time goes on. Even if Scott's words can't be called back, they'll try to throw the fear of God conservatives-who-think-they're-God into others who dare to challenge their ideas.