The Columbus Dispatch editorial, Another Blow to City Schools complains that the city's schools “scrubbed” 2.8 million attendance records since 2006. They allegedly marked some students with low scores as withdrawn so they wouldn’t be c...
The Columbus Dispatch editorial, Another Blow to City Schools complains that the city's schools “scrubbed” 2.8 million attendance records since 2006. They allegedly marked some students with low scores as withdrawn so they wouldn’t be counted against the district.
Columbus schools are also facing criminal investigations for grade changing. Obviously, I have no idea whether Columbus schools are guilty and, if they are, whether they did something qualitatively different than accumulating millions of speeding tickets.
Statistical gamesmanship predated data-driven "reform," and those policies are not an excuse for cheating. They just create a "perfect storm" where the damage done by education's longstanding "culture of compliance," is combined with inherently destructive and punitive accountability schemes, and where all are made worse by the resulting malfeasance. I also know that I must be particularly careful with my words when addressing this tragedy.
"Juking the stats" is not limited to schools. It has long been said that the prime qualification for a policeman, for instance, is a course in creative writing. As it was cryptically explained in The Wire, our legal system could not function without the ability to "turn felonies into misdemeanors."
I suspect that the cumulative damage of manipulating the nation's withdrawals and grades, as well as other tricks for jacking up attendance rates, will dwarf the consequences of outright cheating scandals. But, the Ohio case prompts die-hard supporters of test-driven accountability, such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Andrew Rotherham, to grasp at more straws. They seem to claim that because test-driven accountability has opened multiple doors to a wide variety of scandals that, somehow, their favored policies aren't to blame.
I am curious about whether classroom teachers would agree with my speculation that fabricating grades and attendance are bound to be the most common results of numbers-driven accountability. It so easy to jack up those numbers and, in my experience, it happened continually.
Was it not inevitable that systems would look for ways to put a "W" for Withdrawn next to the names of students who lowered their metrics? My school, for instance, had the highest dropout rate in the state, but for the price of a part-time clerk, whose job it was to find someone to say that former students intended to go back to school somewhere, sometime, our problem disappeared. Once systems start down that road of, wink wink, making bad numbers go away, who knows where it will stop?
Once schools are held accountable for graduation rates, was it not inevitable that something like "credit recovery" would result? Once teachers were forced to "pass kids on" because of some bogus online tutorial or doing a quick project, did anyone believe that grade inflation would stop at that point?
In our school, once teachers (who had 140 students) were pressured to meet with all of the parents of all of the failing students (who had not responded to phones calls and letters), was it not inevitable that overburdened teachers and/or principals would sidestep the conflicts by changing enough "Fs" into "Ds" to stay out of trouble? I certainly stayed below my quota of "Fs." Different schools pressured educators to comply with different policies but I doubt that many teachers did not do what we were all pressured to do.
And, don't get me started with "working off" absences.
"Reformers" can claim, correctly, that statistical gamesmanship and outright cheating did not begin with NCLB. My first principal told me to "pick my battles." Through my entire career, my goal was to comply as little as possible with mandates for dropping absences and bad grades. I know a lot of teachers who were consistently pressured to do far worse. The idea of not playing the game of making statistics look good was never on our radar screen.
To my knowledge, we did not violate the law. Ser
about 19 hours ago