Log in  |  Search

No, It’s Not Just You

For a passionate and at the same time scholarly long view of what’s been happening to education, and to teachers, under the Bush regime, read the brief post on Jim Horn’s Schools Matter blog.

He ties the corporate players in education, like Gates, to their broader social roles in damaging the workplaces students are being prepared for. And he is dead on in criticizing the testing culture:

“If schools are able to achieve the impossible and attain the 100 percent math and reading proficiency by 2014 that the legislation requires, then the reformers will have threatened, bullied, and shamed their way to educational success by having rendered our schools into scripted testing factories. If the more probable scenario develops (psychometricians say certain), however, and a large majority of American schools are clear failures or on the ‘Federal watch-list’ before or by 2014, then the road to school privatization will be clear sailing.”

Teachers write back in comments confessing they thought they were alone in their worst fears for schools until they read what he has to say. Absolutely worth the read.



  • 1 institutional memory
    · Oct 24, 2005 at 1:47 pm


    It is absolutely, positively impossible for 100% of students to achieve scores in Level 3 or Level 4 (e.g., above the 50th percentile), regardless of how often the US Department of Education insists on it.

    This impossibility is due to the fact that the current tests, which are norm-referenced, are designed so that approximately half of all scores are below the 50th percentile.

    During the process of norming a test, prospective items (questions) are administered to large sample populations, and items that are determined to be “too easy” are eliminated. “Too easy” is usually defined as a question that more than 5 out of 8 (62.5%) students answer correctly.

    For all students to have a fair chance of passing, we would have to switch to criterion-referenced tests. Such tests actually reflect how much students have learned. New York’s Regents exams used to be criterion-referenced, but that was changed some years ago.

    An example of a criterion-referenced test currently in use is the one given by the Motor Vehicle Bureau. The score is simply determined by the number of questions answered correctly, with no statistical trickery necessary to produce a score. If everyone passes, then so be it. Ditto if everyone fails.

    It will come as no surprise to many readers that norm-referenced test scores always correlate to socio-economic status. This does not mean that all children can’t learn; it indicates that poor kids start from farther behind when compared to their more affluent peers.

    NCLB, dedicated as it is to holding schools accountable for predictably mediocre norm-referenced test results, poses an impossible task. In its current form, it is nothing but a stalking horse for privatization by the middle of the next decade.

    Schools can never achieve “Lake Wobegon Effect” (all students above average), which NCLB requires. Former Secretary of Education Rod Paige (before legal problems forced his resignation) and current Secretary Margaret Spellings (the Harriet Miers of the education world) have done nothing but sell us snake oil. The New York State Education Department has done nothing but coalesce to federal demands. And don’t even get me started on Joel “Society Pages” Klein, whose dream job seems to be that of Bill Gates’ school privitization czar.

    NCLB and its related nonsense are a travesty of a sham, and the sooner we come to understand that, the sooner we will be able to get to work on educating all students.

  • 2 JennyD
    · Oct 24, 2005 at 4:17 pm

    “Or….teachers will have proven themselves to be extraordinary professionals who have achieved something that no one thought was possible.”

    Horn’s view is that extreme in the opposite.

  • 3 firebrand
    · Oct 24, 2005 at 10:03 pm

    more like “NO School Left STanding”

  • 4 redhog
    · Oct 25, 2005 at 3:06 am

    It should be obvious to all but the most gullible, dense, idealistic, or unprincipled, that the entire testing operation of the DOE is a fraud cynically and pitilessly calculated to produce inevitable outcomes to vindicate their malignant folly.

  • 5 Jackie Bennett
    · Oct 25, 2005 at 10:01 pm

    And (just to add to Redhog’s comment) it would seem that the recent NEAP results show exactly that. But where is the press on that? If it weren’t for one of Masie’s earlier articles, I wouldn’t even know.