Friday, October 31, 2014

The Feds and College Money

It can be very, very hard to figure out where the federal government stands on the myriad of financial issues surrounding post-secondary education, particularly in the area of for-profit vocational colleges. Sometimes to suss these matters out, you have to look at the history.

History tells us that last summer, the Obama administration made good on its threat to clean up scamsters like the Corinthian College Giant Web O' College Flavored Deception. These are schools that appear to view students as receptacles for carrying college loan money from the government and banks to the sort-of-a-college's bank account. This process tends to leave the students themselves holding the debt-filled bag, often without anything remotely resembling a marketable skill. Anyway, the feds were going to put a stop to those shenanigans, so last summer they tracked down the biggest offenders, looked them in the eyes, and said, "Here's another pile of money to keep you from going out of business." To be fair, they also said the bureaucratic equivalent of, "And I've got my eye on you, mister, so don't try any funny business." Which given the circumstances was slightly better than, "Watch out. There's more where that came from."

This is in keeping with the highly mixed messages that are common currency in the college loan world. Even those of who have traveled there are not quite sure of the terrain. Take, for instance, Sallie Mae-- the public is split between people who A) believe it's a government agency, B) don't know what the hell it is and C) think it's a country song title. But it was increasingly clear that maybe they were hosing veterans (and settled a $60 million lawsuit without fessing to anything), and so the government decided to investigate them, or itself, or something, and early peeks at the results indicate that-- ta-dahhh!! --- there's Nothing Bad happening.

This so clearly contradicted what folks had concluded by using their powers of seeing and hearing that the Education Department is now scrambling to investigate the investigation. So we're still doing the rewrite on that slice of history.

It's a sore point because the US Department of Education has been accused before of making a buttload of profit from student loans. They've never really refuted those claims other than to say parents are still getting a deal (whether half-baked or raw was not discussed) and that accounting is, you know, hard. Arne Duncan stated definitively, "We did not." So, you know, that settles it. And yet, when discussing the cost of the college education that the administration wants everyone to get, we never discuss tricks like, say, loaning money to college students at the same miniscule rates used to loan money to banks. So-- touchy issue. The federal government and loans have a history.

This week came a clear statement that the administration recognizes the problem. An announcement on both the White House and Ed Department blogs declared the problem:

Too often, students at career colleges — including thousands of veterans — are charged excessive costs, but don’t get the education they paid for. Instead, students in many of these programs are provided with poor quality training, often for low-wage jobs or in occupations where there are simply no job opportunities. They frequently find themselves with large amounts of debt and, too often, end up in default. In many cases, students are drawn into these programs with confusing or misleading information. 

The new rules, which are somewhat nebulous in the press release, appear to require proof that your program produces actual graduates who have actual skills and get actual jobs (for which they are paid actual money).

To qualify for federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs and certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” 

As I read it, this is for programs that are supposed to be vocationalish. I don't think the feds will start requiring liberal arts majors to prove they're employable. At least, not yet. So maybe we're coming around.

I certainly hope so, because this week also featured yet another initiative to get every single student into the FAFSA database. The first lady has released a FAFSA Completion Challenge video, announcing a competition for schools to get 100% of their students registered with the biggest college loan clearing house in the ever.

Looking at the federal history on this issue, it's hard not to feel a bit queasy about the Challenge. The White House press release touts the vast amount of loan money available-- but it's loan money, and this general cheering about getting every student to go to college, no matter the student, no matter the cost just seems irresponsible-- particularly coming from a governmental body that may not be so much an impartial booster as a potential profiteer from all this youthful indebtedness.

And if you are inclined to be paranoid about our Data Overlords, the FAFSA database certainly makes a tasty gathering bucket for a giant stew of Big Data on every eighteen-year-old potential customer in the country.

College isn't cheap, loans aren't free, and higher education is not automatically the road to prosperity. Don't get me wrong-- I'm a huge believer in continuing education, and I will be paying off loans for a long long time because I decided that my own kids would get there if it was humanly possible for me to do it.

But as the last couple of years have demonstrated, attending college is not risk free, and it can do some nasty long-lasting financial damage without leaving any real benefits. I can't help feeling that if the feds really felt strongly about this, they'd find a way to cut students the same kind of loan deals that they give their corporate buddies. They would get into the scholarship business, instead of the loan brokering business. I would feel a lot better about the federal boosting of the college path if they were more clearly looking out for the interests of students rather than bankers and profiteers. The last time the feds started convincing people to buy things they couldn't afford, we ended up with a massive financial crisis, a bunch of banksters who still managed to end up filthy rich, and a bunch of regular citizens hung out to dry.

I want every child who wants to to go to college, and I support the idea of my government making that happen more easily. I'd like to believe that's mostly what we're doing. I like the optimistic view. But in this matter, history is not on the side of optimism.


NC Program To Drive Out Teachers Is Working

The News Observer reports that the number of teachers leaving teaching in North Carolina has grown, and analysts suggest that it's only going to get worse.

"What a surprise," said nobody who was paying attention. The Tar Heel State has been doing its level best to let teachers know that their kind aren't welcome around these parts. The North Carolina legislature has tried to erase tenure, tried to give teachers a choice between job security or getting a raise ever (maybe-- because they didn't actually have a way to fund the hypothetical raise). And, of course, every year north Carolina teachers take a real-dollar pay cut-- unless they just started out and get the almost-adequate beginning teacher raise that the GOP pushed through.

On top of that, North Carolina has followed Florida in implementing the kinds of kid-unfriendly programs that can make classrooms extra-miserable, patterned on classics like Florida's "Just Read, Dammit!" program that tells eight year olds they're ignorant failures who must repeat third grade if they don't get a sufficient score on a badly designed standardized reading test.

Few states in the country can hope to match North Carolina in creating an environment that is openly hostile to anyone who hopes to build a lifetime teaching career there. Under current conditions, it's just not possible.

And so, teachers have decided to get the hell out.

North Carolina's political dimbulbs continue to ignore this. Thanks to a lower retirement rate last year, the full turnover rate took a slight dip downward. But the number of teachers leaving teaching in general and leaving teaching in North Carolina in particular continues to grow. And as one analyst points out, these figures are probably low anyway because they only cover through March and don't include everyone who made a decision to bail over the summer.

Wake County, the state's largest system, continues to lead the pack, with teacher attrition numbers that have at least doubled over the last few years. But Dallas Woodhouse, head of political group Carolina Rising that backs GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis, thinks things are going great.

Teachers leaving the state is an issue, Woodhouse said. but Republicans are dealing with it. The economy has to improve for teacher salaries to improve, “and we’re seeing that now,” he said.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/30/4279054_teacher-turnover-rate-dips-slightly.html?sp=/99/102/110/112/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

Of course, North Carolina loves its charter schools. Reports suggest as many as 170 opening next year, and why not. NC pols fight hard to preserve charters rights to operate with little or no oversight, even on something as simple as revealing what they pay staff. The special blend of rules has worked well for businessmen like Baker Mitchell, a gifted and well-connected charter profiteer.

For a flourishing charter picture, nothing could be better than a teacher shortage, because teacher-job-filler is cheap and agreeable. North Carolina is becoming a great place to be a TFA temp and the charter operator who hires her. For actual professional teachers, it's sadly true that nothing could be finer than to exit Carolina.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PARCC Is Magical

Today David Hespe, the acting education commissioner in New Jersey, sent out a letter to Chief School Administrators, Charter School Lead Persons, School Principals, and Test Coordinators.

The re: is "Student Participation in the Statewide Assessment Program." Specifically, it's "why there ought to be some, and how you handle uppity folks who want to avoid it."

In the two page letter, the first page and a half are taken up with a history lesson and a legal brief. Basically, "some laws have been passed, starting with No Child Left Behind, and we think they mean that students have to take the PARCC." (If you want to see the faux legal argument dismantled, check out Sarah Blaine's piece here.)

But then Hespe, correctly suspecting that this might not be sufficient for dealing with recalcitrant parental units, offers this magical paragraph:

In speaking with parents and students, it is perhaps most important to outline the positive reasons that individual students should participate in the PARCC examinations. Throughout a student’s educational career, the PARCC assessments will provide parents with important information about their child’s progress toward meeting the goal of being college or career ready. The PARCC assessments will, for the first time, provide detailed diagnostic information about each individual student’s performance that educators, parents and students can utilize to enhance foundational knowledge and student achievement. PARCC assessments will include item analysis which will clarify a student’s level of knowledge and understanding of a particular subject or area of a subject. The data derived from the assessment will be utilized by teachers and administrators to pinpoint areas of difficulty and customize instruction accordingly. Such data can be accessed and utilized as a student progresses to successive school levels.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (forgot that's what PARCC stands for, didn't you) is a magical magical test. It can tell with absolute precision, how prepared your student is for college or career because, magic. And who wouldn't want to know more about the powerful juju contained in the PARCC test.

So if Mr. Hespe and any of his friends come to explain how crucial PARCC testing is for your child's future, you might try asking some questions.

* Exactly what is the correspondence between PARCC results and college readiness. Given the precise data, can you tell me what score my eight year old needs to get on the test to be guaranteed at least a 3.75 GPA at college?

* Does it matter which college he attends, or will test results guarantee he is ready for all colleges?

* Can you show me the research and data that led you to conclude that Test Result A = College Result X? How exactly do you know that meeting the state's politically chosen cut score means that my child is prepared to be a college success?

* Since the PARCC tests math and language, will it still tell me if my child is ready to be a history or music major? How about geology or women's studies?

* My daughter plans to be a stay-at-home mom. Can she skip the test? Since that's her chosen career, is there a portion of the PARCC that tests her lady parts and their ability to make babies?

* Which section of the PARCC tests a student's readiness to start a career as a welder? Is it the same part that tests readiness to become a ski instructor, pro football player, or dental assistant?

* I see that the PARCC will be used to "customize instruction." Does that mean you're giving the test tomorrow (because it'a almost November already)? How soon will the teacher get the detailed customizing information-- one week? Ten days? How will the PARCC results help my child's choir director and phys ed teacher customize instruction?

* Is it possible that the PARCC will soon be able to tell me if my eight year old is on track for a happy marriage and nice hair?

* Why do you suppose you keep using the word "utilize" when "using" is a perfectly good plain English substitute?

* To quote the immortal Will Smith in Independence Day, "You really think you can do all that bullshit you just said?"

The PARCC may look like just one more poorly-constructed standardized math and language test, but it is apparently super-duper magical, with the ability to measure every aspect of a child's education and tell whether the child is ready for college and career, regardless of which college, which major, which career, and which child we are talking about. By looking at your eight year old's standardized math and language test, we can tell whether she's on track to be a philosophy major at Harvard or an airline pilot! It's absolutely magical!

Never has a single standardized test claimed so much magical power with so little actual data to back up its assertions. Mr. Hespe would be further ahead to skip his fancy final paragraph and just tell his people to look parents in the eye and say, "Because the state says so." It's not any more educationally convincing than the magical CACR bullshit, but at least it would be honest.

High Stakes Testing 2.0

In the world of reformsters and their Orwellian word salads, statements often mean the opposite of what they appear to say. "We need to be able to hire more great teachers" actually means "We need to be able to fire any teacher we wish." "We want to rescue high-poverty low-achievement schools" turns out to mean "We want to starve high-poverty low-achievement schools of resources."

So it really should be no surprise that "We see that there's a problem with over-reliance on and over-use of high stakes testing" actually means "We intend to triple down on high stakes testing."

From the moment CCSSO and CGCS held their misleading phone conference, it was evident that they were not talking about backing off testing at all. Almost immediately (as if something had been sent out in the Education Reformsters Newsletter), High Stakes Testing 2.0 began to reveal its ugly face. You can see it in the test-cheerleading websites such as Minnesota's. Even Arne Duncan got in on the act of being against the tests before he was for them (as well as trying to shuck responsibility for installing HST at the center of US education in the first place).

This has been a version of all those crime dramas where the guy who has gone undercover punches his buddy in the face before the really dangerous guys can kill the buddy dead. It's a stalling tactic, mean to save the buddy, not actually harm him.

The Cult of Testing paused just long enough to generate some headlines meant to soothe the opposition, but we are already proceeding with High Stakes Testing 2.0, in which high stakes testing remains the hub around which all decisions in education must turn.

Take a look at Education Post, the website that has rapidly proven itself as a war-room agit-prop echo chamber for every talking point of the reformster movement (and so I'll not link to them unless absolutely necessary). They've been running a swell piece by Erika Sanzi who thanks Arne for insulting white suburban moms and praises testing because, well...

My gratitude now extends to his continued call for smart and meaningful testing of students. We cannot possibly provide kids with the education they need and deserve if we don’t have an accurate sense of what they know, what they don’t know, and how we can best help them.

I try not to do personal attacks here. I'll attack ideas and statements, but I remain conscious that these are real people with homes and families and lives and aspirations, I must assume, to do good. But what am I to make of a mother and teacher who says that she won't know how her children or students are doing unless someone shows her standardized test results? How do I not insult her when she has so handily insulted herself?

Sanzi also floats the talking point that standardized tests are just like diagnostic tests at the doctors office. This is a weak comparison-- doctors order tests, one test is not used for all patients no matter what, and diagnostic tests are not used to evaluate the doctor and hospital. If you want my full rant on why this comparison is bogus, you can find it here.

And Sanzi winds up with the other go-to argument for HST, which translates roughly as, "How dare you try to deprive poor, minority students of this chance to advance in the world!?" It is potent salad of baloney that tosses in some powerful ideas-- civil rights! racial equity! wealthy privilege! It makes it clear that you are risking being rhetorically tattooed as a monster if you try to cross them. It does not provide one whit of explanation as to how giving a poor, minority student a high stakes standardized test will open doors to opportunity for that student.

As someone who has taught in both privileged and underprivileged schools, I can’t imagine anything more threatening to students’ civil rights than denying them evidence that proves they are—or are not—learning. How else can we expose and aspire to close the achievement and opportunity gaps if we aren’t willing to acknowledge they exist?

This echoes the language of John White the CCSSO/CGCS phone call suggesting that only through testing will we ever know that students aren't learning. Because the trained professionals that spend 180 days with these students have no clue (or are big fat liars), and so only tests will tell us The Truth. This is one of the foundational pillars of HST-- that our entire army of professional educators simply can't be trusted to give us information about student achievement. If we don't give tests, we will never know.

And test we will.

A recent post on the US DOE blog highlights just how little of an impression the anti-testing pushback has made-- starting with the title "Investing in Evidence: Finding Game-Changing Evaluations."

The full post is a monument to governmental gobbledygook and a blind faith in testing, but just look at that title. There are two huge assumptions embedded there.

1) The game needs to be changed. Schools are such a disaster we must change everything, start a new game, play a new song, throw out bathwater, babies and basinets. Game-changing does not leave any room for the thought that some of the work being done is good-- no, we need a new game.

2) The way to change the game is with tests. Not with training. Not with personnel. Not even with shiny national standards. No, if games are to be changed, it is tests that will change them. It would be hard to come up with a clearer statement of belief that testing is the foundation, the fundamental bedrock of all education.

The proposal itself seems to be (the language is really impenetrable, and you know I have dug my way through some doozies) to collect up the best tests that are most effective for something something as identified by people who volunteer to answer some questions such as "what questions about P-12 education are still unanswered, because if we find the really good tests and connect up the programs that can't afford really good testing, we can sort of spread the testy love around and answer all the questions by using all the tests. Lordy, I may wade into this thing in greater depth some day, but knowing how way leads on to way, probably not.

Specifically, we are asking your help to identify what the most pressing education policy and/or practice questions are and how answering them could provide needed information to educators, parents and local, state, and federal governments to enable significant improvements in education. Our goal is to support the development of findings that have the rigor and power to inform significant improvements in how schools, districts, states, and the federal government provide services to students.

The clear takeaway is this-- this is not a plan for cutting back on tests or limiting tests. It's a plan for spreading tests out and around.

Every indication, from the feds to reformsters to reformster mouthpieces, is that HST 2.0 may be concerned about its optics, but it's not remotely interested in backing off on the noble goal of testing America's children (and teachers) into submission. So we can all stop pretending that testing caps and limits and restraint was ever a thing, because it wasn't, and it isn't. Get those opt out forms back out, because you're going to need them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Education Is Not Medicine

One of the popular new reformster talking points is to compare standardized testing to diagnostic testing at the doctor's office (you can find examples here and here). This comparison is total baloney, and reformsters need to retire it immediately. They are just making themselves look silly. Let's break it down.

Students are not patients.

Students are not patients who need to be "cured" of the "disease" of not knowing stuff. There is nothing about that comparison that holds up. Disease attacks a healthy body and breaks down tissues and functions that were previously fine. Which part of that sounds like a student not understanding how to multiply doubly digit numbers or misunderstanding how to find verbs?

Doctors choose the tests.

The doctor uses her professional judgment to determine which tests will be administered. The doctor uses her professional judgment looking at the symptoms, the nature of the patient, and the possible issues that might be involved. And then the doctor decides which test to order because

There are many tests.

Doctors do not have a single one size fits all diagnostic test that is given to all patients, regardless of whether they are complaining about a sore chest, a broken leg, or a high fever. The test is chosen to fit the situation (again, using the doctor's professional judgment). For that matter, for every test the doctor chooses to give a patient, the doctor also choose NOT to give a large number of tests to that patient. There is no medical analog for a high stakes one size fits all test to be given to all students.

Doctors can still see.

When I went to the doctor with the flesh of my knee split open, my doctor did not say, "Well, it looks like the flesh of your knee is split open, and I might be looking at the patella right there, but let me run some tests, first." He definitely didn't say, "First, I have to give you this exact same test that we give every single patient who enters the hospital no matter what the issue seems to be." Because, as it turns out, my doctor has A) eyes and B) sense. So he sewed up my knee. Some times the correct diagnostic test is no test at all, because A) eyes and B) sense.

Results are timely.

Depending on the urgency of the situation (as determined by the professional judgment of the doctor), the results will come back in a timely manner. If you get your broken leg x-rayed in May, your doctor expects to see the images before September.

Judgment beats test

When the test results return, the doctor makes a diagnosis and prescription based on his professional judgment. The test provides data; it does not make a prescription. "The test says I have to prescribe paxil for you," said no doctor ever. The doctor's judgment is not subordinate to the test results.

Doctors know when to quit

My doctor does not shorten my treatment so that he has time to give me more tests. If he has to make a choice between more treatment for my problem and more testing, more testing does not automatically win.

No stakes tests.

The diagnostic tests that a doctor orders do not become part of the job evaluation of the doctor. The hospital board does not call a doctor in and say, "100% of the limbs you ordered x-rays for this year were broken. Therefor we find you ineffective and you're fired." Nor do we use the test results to judge the hospital. And we especially don't use the test results to judge people in some other department who never even saw the patient.

So stop comparing high stakes standardized tests to diagnostic medical tests. They are not comparable and the analogy is extraordinarily weak. Find something else better to compare high stakes standardized tests to, like cumquats or people who insist on talking loudly on their cell phones in public places.

Furthermore


CCSS: Runaway Train

One of the oddest things about the Common Core is that here you have this giant movement, this massive shadow regulation of one of the nation's largest sectors, the entire institution of public education, and yet nobody is in charge.

Think about that. You've got this set of rules that shape the lives of millions of Americans, and nobody is actually in charge.

Core boosters might say, "Well, the state's in charge," but of course that's just not true. The states were required to adopt the Core as it was handed to them, with only minor additions and no changes, and the states have no real authority to change anything in the Core. At least, that's the supposition-- since there's nobody in charge, there is no place for states to turn to ask for that authority to change the Core.

Conservative Core foes would say that the feds are in charge of the Core, but that's not quite right. Arne Duncan has anointed himself the enforcer of standards compliance, but that's a negative role. He will tell you if your state is being too non-compliant with the Core. He'll tell you what not to do, once you try to do it, and he may punish you for it. But he won't tell you what to do with the Core exactly because A) that would be illegal-ish and B) he doesn't really know anything about how to institute effective education programs.

States have been slowly inching out of the Common Core haunted house, like burglars who think maybe the guard dogs are gone now but they're not quite sure, and so mostly they have just decided to sit on the porch and pretend that they've really gotten out of the place.

The copyright holders have been absolutely silent on the requirement not to change parts of the Core and even more silent than that on the subject of how to use it and what's okay to do with it.

The creators have long since walked away from it, moving on to more profitable ventures. And the politicians that once championed it now dare not speak its name. It's senior night at the football game and nobody will step forward to say, "That's my kid!!"

And you might argue that Pearson et al are de facto in charge of Common Core because they make the materials and tests that give it actual form in the classroom. But if you called up Pearson and asked permission to change a standard, they would laugh at you, and if you asked for help implementing a standard, they would just try to sell you something.

Put another way-- if the Common Core were to collapse and everyone in the country came to see it as a disaster and a Huge Mistake, exactly whose head would roll? Who would be held responsible?

It's kind of amazing. Name one sweeping, nation-wide, institution transforming program that has ever been instituted in this country with nobody in charge of it. Common Core is a gigantic runaway train-- maybe not traveling very fast or true, but with a completely empty cab up front.No in charge. No one's responsible. Or, to use the language of the ed revolution, nobody is accountable for Common Core.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CAP: Core Is for Ladies [Updated]

The Common Core is great for the ladies.

At least that's what we can learn from a new CAP (Center for American Progress) article that combines two now-classic Core-boosting rhetorical techniques-- wacky leaps of logic, and taking credit for what was already happening.

The piece opens with a paragraph with a shout out to Title IX, then sadly shakes its head and notes that there are still gender-based inequities in education and employment persist, particularly for girls of color and from low-income background. Plus, girls often lack access to high-quality, rigorous STEMmy courses, which would prepare them for college and high-paying careers. Not that the author offers any evidence, or even an assertion, that they lack access to a higher degree than boys.

Next up: charts and data. The data is exclusively high stakes tests based, so here's what we know. More eight grade boys get proficient-ranked test scores on science tests than eight grade girls. The boys barely edge out girls on the math test results on the eight grade test. And as always, black and brown girls score lower on the test than their white counterparts. So that's a picture of how eight graders score on those two tests. What we can actually deduce from that about the entire educational system is a whole other debate. I just want to be clear on what we're actually talking about. 

Fewer females than males take the AP computer science test. Few females take STEM related AP tests. Also, female students and students of color take more college remedial courses (the article lumps women and minorities together a lot). And we get a section (well, two paragraphs) of data with a chart about the pay gap between men and women. This, the article tells us, exists even when controlling for college major, hours worked, and occupation.

So wait-- how is the Common Core fixing all this? Let's go back to the introduction:

The Common Core State Standards represent an important step toward closing achievement gaps and opening the door to higher-paying STEM fields for millions of girls. By establishing uniform and more-rigorous academic standards, the Common Core helps ensure that all students—both girls and boys, regardless of their income levels and backgrounds—are taught to the same high expectations. 

This is followed by the data establishing, sort of, that the gender gap exists. Then we arrive at this conclusion.

More engaging and challenging standards build a strong academic foundation for all students. Girls—and in particular, girls of color—have a lot to gain from more-rigorous learning standards that better prepare them for college and career success. By raising the expectations for student learning, the Common Core State Standards allow girls the opportunity to seize STEM learning opportunities while in grade school; to pursue a diverse set of college majors; and to obtain jobs that command higher salaries. The Common Core State Standards can expand on the progress girls have made since Title IX and can have a long-lasting impact on women in society.

Many of you will recognize a composition technique known as "recycling your introduction in new words as your conclusion."

That's it. That's the whole argument. CCSS will raise everybody's standards, so women (and, I guess, students of color) will just automatically be raised up to the level of white guys. Of course, that effect would theoretically work with literally any educational standards at all-- so why didn't the states (particularly those with super high standards rated by Fordham Institution as better than CCSS) already wipe out their own gender gaps? And how can rigorous education wipe out the pay gap when the pay gap, as CAP just said, is controlled for occupation? Will lady engineers suddenly be paid more because they have a Common Core seal of approval stamped upon them?

This has to be one of the laziest arguments I have ever seen for pretty much anything. I guess it's good that they didn't print a special CCSS edition in pink for girls, but the implication that girls have been doing poorly because, well, it's just that nobody asked them to do better-- it's somehow insulting to everybody. If CAP is going to try to score social justice points, they're going to have to do much better than this.

[Update 10/30] The evening that this post went up, several of us were contacted by CAP chieftain Neera Tanden who asked if anyone wanted to take issue with the data.

The answer was, of course, that the data about gender gaps were fine, but there was no data at all to indicate that CCSS could close the gap. Tanden cited gains in the College and Career Readiness Ratings for girls in Kentucky, one of the first states to adopt the Core. I asked how those gains for girls compared to gains for boys, and she referred me to this site, where Kentucky parks all their reports on student achievement.

This actually raised more questions than it answered, because the high school data clearly shows that girls outpace boys by large margins in most tested areas (boys win on the social studies test) and tat the gender gap on the College and Career Ready ratings also runs in favor of the girls. I asked about this, but have yet to hear a response (it's twitter-- I don't read much into the silence). My conclusion, however, is that the CAP article profiled above makes even less sense than it did before.]