Saturday, February 11, 2006

More insults, less facts

I've gotten into quite the pissing contest with several people over this post over at Joanne Jacobs. She posted about a story where a charter school principal, Terrance Moore, claims:

Almost always, certified teachers have earned straight A's in education courses and multiple C's, D's, F's and W's (withdrawn) in academic content courses

a claim neither he nor Joanne Jacobs can back up with facts but it probably makes for a nice sound bite.

The story goes on to brag about how this person's charter school is rated the #1 high school in Colorado, so I decided to take a look at the demographics of the school. I zipped on over to Great Schools and examined the student demographics.

Luckily for Terrance Moore he's head of a pretty whitebread school, where 83% of his students are white, versus 65% for the rest of the state. The Hispanic population at his school is only 6% versus 26% for the rest of the state and the black population is 3% versus 6% for the rest of the state. Lest you think its all about race he's also lucky to only have 8% of his students on free or reduced lunch, versus 32% for the rest of the state. You can view the student demographics here. He also has the good fortune to have 23 teachers available for 123 high school students.

Checking the student demographics for nearby schools, I found this information which I summarized at Joanne Jacobs:

Schools with higher percentages of whites than the state average and a lower percentage of low SES children do better on the state's testing based accountability system. Schools with lower percentages of whites, and higher percentages of low SES kids than the state average tend to score lower, with the exception of schools that lower their teacher to student ratios below 15 (a real research based solution, not being instituted because it won't make any business cronies of powerful politicians any money).

Conclusion? The high stakes test based accountability system in Colorado most accurately measures ethnicity and socio economic status

To see how foolish accountability ratings based solely on high stakes tests are, you can view this story from

Colorado's #1 rate elementary school, Jamestown Elementary School, had one student take the test. The #3 elementary school had 8 students take the test.

The state's worst rated high school? Arapahoe Ridge High School, doesn't technically exist. According to the article, "The rating listed for the school reflects the scores of three eighth-graders who attend a program overseen by juvenile court Judge T.J. Cole."

Poor Judge Cole, one more year of low test scores and he's going to be out of a principal's job.


Anonymous said...

You should not compare the demographics of a single charter school in Fort Collins to the state of Colorado. You should compare it to Laramire, County Colorado or to Fort Collins, Colorado only.

What mandatory testig also shows is that tracking is a good thing for thekids who want to learn. The testing also shows that if educators can keep the dominiate black (read Hip-Hop) culture or Hispanic (read La Raza) culture from establishing itself at a school, the school performs at a much higher level.

Unknown said...

While I did get high grades in my education classes (it was pretty hard not to - the standards were very low), I also got very good grades when I earned my Masters - which isn't in education.

No matter what NCLB says, it's the child's home environment that is the best indicator of their sucess in school. A good teacher can do a great deal, but it's an uphill battle when the child moves 4x over the course of a school year, has a parent in prison, needs glasses and dental work and eats junk food all weekend.
Thanks for stopping by my blog and I'm sorry that none of your laptops work! Don't you love being at the mercy of the IT services!

Mike in Texas said...


That is EXACTLY what I did in the original post over at Joanne Jacobs. Here is what I wrote:

"Three elementary schools, Laurel Elementary, Putnam Elementary and Moore Elementary, have a lower percentage of whites than state average, and a higher percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch (low-SES) and were rated "average" by the state of Colorado. One school, Irish Elementary, was almost overwhelmingly Hispanic, 70%, and poor 85%. This school received a "low" rating from the state. And just to show SES can be more of a factor than race, let's look at Bauder Elementary. It has a higher percentage of whites than the rest of the state, and slightly abover average low SES rate and an "average" score.

The two exceptions are the bilingual school and O'Dea Elementary. I don't know about Co. or even the rest of the country but here in Texas bilingual education is under attack by the "reform" crowd. The bilingual school in this town did quite well,receiving a "high" rating from the state. Could it be b/c they've hit the magic 15 number on their teacher to student ratio? O'Dea is even better, with only 13 students per teacher, and a "high" rating.

Now the "white" and wealthier schools. After Ridgeview we have Riffenburgh, Liberty Common Charter (85% white, 7% Asian), Shepardson, Zach Elementary, Dunn Elementary, Lab Elementary School for Creative Learning, Kruse Elementary, Lopez Elementary, Linton Elementary. Common denominator? All predominantly white and all have a lower percentage of low SES kids than state average. All were rated "high" or "excellent" by the state.?

Jenny D. said...

Hi Mike. There is no evidence to support the claim that ed students get As in ed classes and lousy grades in subject matter. Certainly that is not the case at the university I teach at and attend.

I think Ed classes can be improved to help future teachers master something pedagogical content knowledge, which is how you translate what you know into some sort of ordered plan for teaching others.

I also disagree that home environment dictates all. That undermines all the hard work teachers do, and makes their jobs pretty pointless. Plus, I think it's wrong, and teachers can do a lot regardless of where kids come from.

Mike in Texas said...


I agree with much of what you're saying and in fact I'm arguing that high stakes tests are a flawed instrument for measuring student achievement.

Jenny D. said...

Mike, this is where we disagree. I'm not as sure that high stakes test are a bad thing....

Mike in Texas said...


The results I indicated for Ridgeview's nearby schools can be duplicated across the country. I'm not the only person to say high stakes test measure socio-economic status and ethnicity very accurately.

Anonymous said...

Certified teachers have earned C, D, F, and W???

What university allows this?

Mine required C or better in ALL classes that counted toward a degree. Are there really legitimate universities that allow a student to carry an F class as one that counts toward their diploma - I find that hard to believe. I happen to have graduated with a 4.0 - in ALL of my classes, not just education ones.

And what is wrong with a W? You have to re-take the class. I had a W - I had surgery and was just too tired to handle all 6 classes plus a lab - so I withdrew from one. Took it the next semester.

What a dink.

Msabcmom said...

Hello - I like your blog!

This article was just what I was looking for! I am also having a debate with a fellow blogger on this subject. Thanks!

Mike in Texas said...


There is no truth to this article. It's the typical baseless garbage the "reform" crowd drags out in its continued attempts to discredit public education and anyone associated with them, or at least those of us who don't agree with them.

Anonymous said...

But there would be no way to back that up, because of the Privacy Act of 1974.

Mike in Texas said...


Anyone can view my school transcripts. I was required to provide them to the school, and as part of the freedom of information act (not sure which year) anyone call file a written request for a copy.