Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Education Reform is a Non- Partisan Issue

Marketwatch.com reported recently that multiple groups including Democrats for Education Reform and the Reverend Al Sharpton gathered in Denver to push for education reforms on the eve of the Democrat National Convention. Many of the reforms that this organization calls for are centered on school choice and other creative ideas that have too often been labeled right wing attempts to end public schooling.

This once again shows that education reform is not a partisan issue, but an issue of concern for all Americans as we continue to see our childhood education system fall behind many of the other developed countries in the world. The reforms advocated by this group, including expanded access to charter schools and increased accountability measures, will greatly help those currently in hopeless education environments achieve their potential.

No matter who is elected to be our next President in November education should be a prominent part of their domestic agenda. Implementing reforms centered on school choice will bring our K-12 education system in line with our country’s world renowned university system.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Inequality and Test Scores

Edudiva is a great site to visit for analysis on standardized test scores. The following is from her post after the recent announcement of Missouri’s MAP scores:

Fareed Zakaria, in The Post-American World, explains the U.S. math score mediocrity.

But even if the U.S. scores in math and science fall well below leaders like Singapore and Hong Kong, the aggregate scores hide deep regional, racial, and socioeconomic variation. [...] The difference between average science scores in poor and wealthy school districts within the United States, for instance, is four to five times greater than the difference between the U.S. and Singaporean national averages. In other words, America is a large and diverse country with a real inequality problem.

This inquality is highlighted in the St. Louis County MAP scores. The 10th grade math scores ranged from 81.4 percent of a school scoring proficient or advanced at Clayton to 0 at Wellston. OK, that is pretty extreme. The top five scoring districts averaged 71.6 prof/adv.; while the bottom five districts (excluding Wellston) averaged 15.6. I excluded Wellston because it has had its accreditation stripped and students may go elsewhere. In fact several go to Clayton. The elementary math numbers aren’t any better. I chose 5th grade because I felt that gave students several years to get used to testing. The top five districts averaged 75.02 prof/adv; whereas, the bottom five averaged 18.76.

How can we fix this problem? Let’s start by analyzing our test scores like Edudiva to find out what they really indicate. Then let’s stop isolating kids in schools where they are drastically underserved and expand the choices they have.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


‘Adequate’ is not nearly a strong or positive enough word to describe something as important as our children’s education. Yet, the St. Louis schools, along with districts in the St. Louis and St. Charles counties, all failed to make federally defined “adequate yearly progress!” This is simply unacceptable! Our children not only deserve, but desperately need educational reforms and improvements. Progress must be continually achieved.

Many other states and even surrounding counties—such as Dunklin, Jefferson, St. Clair, New Haven and Franklin school districts—have been able to obtain AYP. Proving that AYP—which includes standards to help ensure students are on grade-level in both reading and math—is definitely obtainable.

These children and the future of the St. Louis area depend on achieving educational progress. Parents and non-parents alike must look into proposed school reforms and not settle for the current inadequate status quo.