Tom Ultican: Credit Recovery and the Farce of Rising Graduation Rates

Tom Ultican left the private sector to teach physics and mathematics in a California public school.

He writes here about how setting targets for graduation rates has produced the same corruption as NCLB’s mythical target of 100% proficiency on tests. It is the inexorable workings of what is known as Campbell’s Law in social science: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

The corruption is by no means limited to California. It is nationwide, as Ultican shows.

It is promoted by schools eager to meet targets but also by for-profit entrepreneurs, who make easy money with inferior products.

The unanswered question in this discussion is what to do to help the students who don’t earn a legitimate high school diploma. Without it, they will have trouble getting a job. How do we restore the meaning of a high school diploma without leaving hundreds of thousands with no job prospects. The best answer is very likely career and technical training, especially if it is not forced into the same college-prep mold as other paths.

This is one of those brilliant posts that I am honored to share with you:

“A miracle has occurred. America’s high school graduation rates peaked at about 77% in 1970 and then drifted down for almost four decades to 69% in 2007. Astoundingly, even with increased graduation requirements rates have shot up.

“Many school districts in California now require all students to meet course requirements for entering the University of California system to graduate from high School. That is a dramatic increase in academic rigor. Yet, in 2016, over 83% of California’s freshman cohort graduated on time. In 2012, 81% of the freshman cohort in America graduated on time. These record setting numbers are the result of knuckleheaded political policy, cheating and credit recovery.

“What is Credit Recovery and Where did it Come from?

“In the 1990’s politicians like Bill Clinton and Jeb Bush were pushing for standards in education and accountability measures. Jeb Bush’s infamous school grading system called for 25% of a high school’s grade to be based on graduation rates. Bill Clinton wrote in 1998,

We have worked to raise academic standards, promote accountability, and provide greater competition and choice within the public schools, including support for a dramatic increase in charter schools.”

“We know that all students can learn to high standards, and that every school can succeed if it has clear instructional goals and high expectations for all of its students; ….”

“Donald T. Campbell’s 1976 paper presented a theory about social change that is now widely revered as Campbell’s Law: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

“Exactly as the Social Scientist, Campbell, postulated, this national push to increase the standards of school rigor and to use social indicators (graduation rates and high stakes testing) to evaluate schools has introduced distortion and corruption.

“How were school leaders going to protect their institutions and their own jobs from the ravages of horribly shortsighted and uninformed education policy? The solution was obvious; teach to the test and find a way to raise graduation rates.

“To the rescue, came both the Walton Family Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with many other lesser contributors. They perceived it was time for advancing the privatization of public education and accelerating the adoption of technology in education. Credit recovery was a perfect vehicle.”

Read on to learn about the roles of many other organizations that pushed the naive narrative that setting a goal and punishing those who didn’t reach it would produce great results.

from novemoore http://ift.tt/2sUo0Iq

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