Monday, February 23, 2004

Woohoo! No more geometry

It's only Monday, and we've already gotten one very spectacular slip of the tongue by our fearless leader at the Department of Education. He's already said a much milder but just as telling comment very recently:
    But the mood swiftly changed when Paige was asked about Vilsack’s criticism.
    “I think it’s so unfortunate to have those kind of comments made at a school or anywhere near a school,’’ said Paige, who argued Vilsack is “completely incorrect.’’

    “I can only think of two reasons why anyone would make comments like that. One is being misinformed… Another is intentionally misinforming the public for whatever reason,” he said.
Talk about projection. Jeez.

We also have news of the latest example of "perverse incentives", as defined here:
    Not only does more testing not work, Losen said, but it creates "perverse incentives" for schools to take destructive measures in order to keep test scores high. For example, he said, many schools boost scores by encouraging students who are already behind -- disproportionately minority and special education students -- to "voluntarily" drop out. Districts can do this, Losen said, because while NCLB provisions require schools to improve graduation rates, these provisions are not as rigorously enforced as those demanding improvement in test scores.

    Panelist Elisa Hyman, deputy director of the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York, said the "discharging" of low-performing students who could harm test scores is a widespread problem in New York City public schools. At one school, 5,000 students were discharged over the course of a year, she said. And overall, she estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 students have been discharged from New York City schools in the last few years.

    During her presentation, Hyman described some of the discharged students who have asked her organization to help them gain readmittance to their schools.

    "It's sad," she said. "A lot of the kids had all of their credits and all of their exit exams but one. Most of the other kids are struggling with literacy, and they're being moved nowhere or to a GED program where they have no chance of getting a GED."
Enter: stage right, Mississippi.
    Mississippi's State Board of Education has officially removed geometry as a high school graduation requirement.

    The proposal has been in the works for several months now. Students will instead be required to take algebra one and another higher math.

    The change was made to bring Mississippi into compliance with the federal "No Child Left Behind."

    The federal law requires that students be tested at the highest level of math required.

    The problem, according to State School Superintendent, is that Mississippi students are tested at Algebra One, but geometry is the highest level of math required.
Why stop at geometry? Why not just get rid of public schools?