Any thoughts on the news of the 4th and 8th grade math scores of Detroit public school students? More than 60% of 4th graders and more than 70% of 8th graders scored below proficient on the latest NEAP report. What are your thoughts?
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First, that's tragic. Second, I wonder what the trend has been. I assume it's worse than it once was... Third, I wonder how it compares to other places (if any) with similar poverty rates. Finally, as someone whose high school teaching career was spent at a school with 70% free/reduced lunch kids, I really wonder if it's possible to consistently get kids up to proficiency when their backgrounds are so impoverished in terms of money, but much more importantly in terms of what their families expect of them in school and for the future and in terms of the extent to which their parents can help them.
If this is a decrease in proficiency, what does it tell us about No Child Left Behind? I'd also be interested in knowing a couple things... What math curriculum are they using? Are teachers receiving ongoing training and support in teaching mathematics? Are they actively applying NCTM's Focal Points? And what are their average class sizes?
I'm very sorry to hear this. I know in our local schools the number of students per classroom only continues to rise. Advanced students are getting no resources. And teachers do not have enough time in the day to help those who are struggling.
Those are some frightening results, I would be interested in seeing the scores from previous years. Is this a one year problem or has it been a trend over several years. I think that school districts that receive these low scores should take a close look at the currriculum and the fidelity with which it is being implemented in each classroom. I would also be interested in seeing attendance rates for these students.
Here's a link to the Detroit News article about the scores:
I think that many different things need to be looked at here. Scores from previous years need to be examined. This is actually pretty scary-there has to be some reason for this. Have teaching methods changed? Curriculum? Demographics? Something needs to be done!
There is a danger at looking at statistics alone, as other editors have indicated. I guess we really need to know more about the statistics, how they are measured, what assessment methods are used, the context of the students and the city etc. There is a real danger at just looking at these and coming up with some very rash decisions without exploring it more thoroughly first.
Statistics don't always tell a complete or accurate story, but this looks pretty dismal. It's clear something's not working.
If these statistics are representative of the norm for the district, clearly there is plenty of blame to go around: teachers, parents, students, learning climate, class size, economics, low expectations, curriculum...and the list goes on.
If, however, these statistics are divergent from the norm, the reasons are more specifically identifiable but perhaps as diverse.
Without more specific explication and analysis, the issue remains unclear. That leaves the problem without a focused solution, but I'm reasonably certain money will be the proposed answer.
Frankly, I'm just sick of the emphasis on test scores. Where has it gotten us in the past twenty years? How about we put an emphasis on other reasons why Detroit school students might be failing. The cities high poverty rate? Deteriorating facilities? Poor security at these schools? Lack of access to college futures? I'm not saying we should always ignore what students do on tests, but it shouldn't be the end all, be all of our evaluation of schools. We haven't done nearly enough in other categories to make it a reliable gauge of what we or they are capable of.
Unfortunately, I am not surprised. These are very common numbers. None of our urban districts are really doing well when you look at all of the data. Detroit specifically is poor, and has historically had issues with equity in its public schools. When schools are underfunded and have untrained teachers, these are the results you get.
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