Thursday, October 29, 2020

DeVos New NAEP Baloney Sandwich

Betsy DeVos would like you to know--again, some more--that public schools are failing. 

Her exhibit this time is the newly-released NAEP results for 12th graders in 2019. And as usual at NAEP time, her brief exhortation is riddled with baloney. 

America is the greatest country on the face of the earth, and we should deliver our rising generation the greatest educational opportunities possible. Sadly, today’s results confirm America’s schools continue to fall far short, and continue to fail too many kids, especially the most disadvantaged.

Wave that flag. But recognize that the NAEP 12th grade scores did not break out students by low-income levels, so DeVos has no idea which students, exactly, are holding the fuzzy end of the test score lollipop. Also, let's not lose sight of the fact that the NAEP is administered to public and private schools, so the same schools that she wants a voucher-paved path to for students--those beloved private schools are in this mix, too.

It’s particularly troubling to see the results for our lowest performing and most disadvantaged students getting worse. Education funding flows most heavily to these students’ schools, but these data make clear money to schools alone will not fix the problem. It’s a problem of approach

Again, she has no idea whether the funding "flows most freely" to the schools of the low-scoring students. Nor am I sure which funding she's talking about. Title I? IDEA? I'm asking for millions of teachers who are dying to know which schools, exactly, are the beneficiaries of these freely-flowing funds. But DeVos brings up funding only so she can argue that more money won't help. Of course, 2019's seniors are another of the generations that have grown up knowing nothing except the reformy NCLB test-centered data-driven programs that ed reformers like DeVos have been pushing at us, but she's not going to talk about that. 

Of course you know where she's headed-- this report card should "light a fire" under education leaders to try something new "to avert another lost generation." Another? Is she worried about a repeat of the 1920s and Hemingway and Stein and Fitzgerald, or is there some other lost generation she has in mind, and if so, when did we lose them, and how were standardized test scores related to their loss? She wants education leaders to start working with governors and the White House and get busy empowering parents (aka vouchers). Again--private schools are part of these numbers. But here comes the finish:

We must start to act like our national security hinges on fixing this, because it does. We must start to act like our economic growth hinges on fixing this, because it does. We must start to act like our very future hinges on solving this now, because it unquestionably does.

But the "this" she wants to fix is scores that have stagnated for decades. Has our economic growth and national security been suffering? And is education really the only way to fix these things, because I heard that her boss had already fixed them bigly. Look--education disruptors have been chicken littling about the imminent education-fueled collapse of the country since A Nation at Risk 35 years ago, and yet here we sit. And while we have a few issues, I'm not sure that persistent racism, failed trickle-down economic theories, and a problematic health care system can be blamed on low standardized test scores--or more importantly, fixed by raising those scores. 

I made my statement about NAEP a year ago, and what I said still goes. NAEP is super-duper clear that it's a huge mistake to try to blame NAEP scores on any single factor. Other folks are super-duper clear that NAEP's PR boast of being a "gold standard" is perhaps not well-earned. And every year, NAEP scores debunk the notion that if we just had hard data, we could accomplish edu-miracles. Folks will keep using the NAEP scores to back up what they already wanted to say, packing the data into a sad baloney sandwich. This is a fine time to remind you that elections matter. 

1 comment:

  1. No-stakes NAEP tests given to SENIORS in HS? Anyone who takes those results with even one iota of seriousness is beyond clueless. I hereby suggest that units of "cluelessness in education" be forever termed the "betsy"(abbr: bS)".

    DeVos rings the bell with this one @ 100 bS