Thursday, November 30, 2006

Publik Skools

If there is one thing the Department of Education does well, it is collect statistics about schools:

1. Between 1970 and 2002, average per-pupil spending in public elementary and secondary schools more than doubled, from $4,170 (in real dollars) to $8,802, an 111% increase!

2. From 1990 to 2003, real per-pupil spending increased 25 percent, from $7,692 to $9,644.

Did increased spending result in increased student performance in public schools? Not at all.

3. Reading scores for eighth-grade public school students remained static between 1998 and 2005. In 1998, eighth-graders averaged a score of 261 out of 500 in reading. In 2005, they averaged 260. Only 29 percent were rated grade-level "proficient" or better, and 71 percent rated less than proficient in reading.

4. Math results were a little better. Between 1990 and 2005, the average eighth-grade score rose from 262 to 278. But again, only 29 percent were rated grade-level proficient or better, and 71 percent rated less than proficient in math.

5. Private schools did better. Forty-nine percent of eighth-graders in Catholic schools rated "proficient" or better in reading, and 40 percent in Catholic schools, rated "proficient" or better in math.

Read more here.

Read my article here "The Educational Octopus."


At 11/30/2006 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think private schools turn out better students because they had students enter with more potential to begin with?

Possibly the parents who can afford to send their children to private schools provide an environment that values learning more than parents who are just struggling to survive. I am thinking along the lines of Maslow's "hierarchy of needs."

Any study that attempts to compare students' achievement without controlling for poverty is seriously flawed. It is just not that simple to blame other factors and ignore status and privilege.

Even having said all that, I do agree that competition in any industry, education included, is necessary for competence. All children deserve an equal opportunity for an excellent education.

At 12/01/2006 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey walt g,

I hear what you're saying, but what data to site to support your supposition?

Here are a few random thoughts.

From Wikipedia "Some studies find the heritability of IQ around 0.5 but the studies show ranges from 0.4 to 0.8;[5] that is, depending on the study, a little less than half to substantially more than half of the variation in IQ among the children studied was due to variation in their genes. The remainder was thus due to environmental variation and measurement error. A heritability in the range of 0.4 to 0.8 implies that IQ is "substantially" heritable."

Wikipedia states this about environment: "Environmental factors play a role in determining IQ in extreme situations. Proper childhood nutrition appears critical for cognitive development; malnutrition can lower IQ. Other research indicates environmental factors such as prenatal exposure to toxins, duration of breastfeeding [citation needed], and micronutrient deficiency can affect IQ. In the developed world, there are some family effects on the IQ of children, accounting for up to a quarter of the variance. However, by adulthood, this correlation disappears, so that the IQ of adults living in the prevailing conditions of the developed world may be more heritable."

Relying on my recollection of a book I read about 15 years ago: In the dame's schools of the 19th century in the slums of the big, east coast US. cities, literacy was north of 90%. Poor kids had no trouble learning to read and compute.

My mother grew up on a farm and went to a one room school house in mid-michigan. She, her class mates and her siblings have had great academic success. She grew up poor - she didn't have electricity until she was 15 - and yet she learned to read and eventually earned a Masters degree.

I also submit that poverty doesn't cause the high drop out rates we see in Flint, Detroit and many other large public school systems.

The majority of people who become millionaires in the U.S. each year do not come from wealth (i.e. they do not come from status and privilege)- from "The millionaire next door".

Witnessing the antics of Paris Hilton in particular, one could make the case that status and privilege are not necessarily stepping stones to academic achievement.

what say you?

At 12/03/2006 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thoughts Bob. I am not sure I would want to use Paris Hilton for an example of anything, though. I'm thinking more along the lines of average, everyday folks. It's difficult building an argument around the extremes.

I don't dispute that children who live in poverty can't learn. It's just not their top priority: Survival is. Currently, poverty causes much more violence than in the past. My folks grew up as poor dirt farmers in Arkansas, they also had outhouses and no running water in the house, but they did not have to cope with drive-by shootings and automatic weapon fire nightly.

For lots of reasons children in poverty don't do as well as those who have their basic needs met. I don’t have specific data currently, but a quick search of JSTOR and ProQuest academic article databases show 7451 and 62 articles respectively for “poverty drop-out rates.” It’s been pretty well researched that poverty and poor school performance are highly correlated. The United States’ government spent millions of dollars on Head Start after a thorough investigation into the poverty and school performance linkage.

I don't doubt a large part of drop-outs stem from their parent (oftentimes single parent) not stressing education's importance, but that should not be taken out on the student. Education, I believe, and others believe, too, is the easiest way out of poverty.

If poverty is not the cause of Flint's drop out rate: What is? Their drop out rate is astronomical compared to every one of their affluent neighbors. Maybe it’s because many are black and are too dumb to know they should stay in school?

At 4/19/2008 6:22 PM, Blogger K T Cat said...



Post a Comment

<< Home