It's a myth that students in the USA underperform academically

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It's a myth that students in the USA underperform academically

Postby ScottSommers » 28 May 2011, 19:08

Mod's note: This post was split from this thread.

Sorry I have to say this so loud, but it's a myth that students in the USA underperform academically. Now it's a big myth, and you'll learn about it in colleges of education, but it simply isn't true. The USA is a big, big place. Some places are like Third World nations and you know about the other places because the Americans on this forum come from there. Taiwan, with a population almost the same as Canada, is like a medium-sized American state. Korea is slightly bigger and Finland has fewer people than New York City and an economy that's almost entirely dependent on one company
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia
...accounting for about a third of the market capitalization of the Helsinki Stock Exchange (OMX Helsinki) as of 2007, a unique situation for an industrialized country


Factually, there are US states that do as well as Asian nations. The graph in this blog post illustrates my point well.
http://educationnext.org/the-international-pisa-test/
I recommend reading the whole thing because it does a good job of explaining where all those statements about how good or bad schools here and there come from.
Becoming Taiwan: From Colonialism to Democracy, by Ann Heylen and Scott Sommers is now available on Google Books http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Taiwan-Colonialism-Democracy-Formosiana/dp/3447063742

"Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies? An Empirical Study on Political Affiliation and Conspiratorial Thinking," by Scott Sommers
The Skeptic Magazine, Volume 16 Number 2
available here

comments about 9/11 conspiracy on the Independent Sentinel
available here
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby heimuoshu » 28 May 2011, 19:45

Very interesting read and I agree completely. I held the same opinion (have to call it that otherwise those who don't have the facts might get angry over my "opinion") before I read this.
BUT
I don't think anyone claimed that or maybe I just misread some posts.
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby ironlady » 28 May 2011, 22:02

ScottSommers wrote:Factually, there are US states that do as well as Asian nations.


Sure, but that's like saying, "Well, some of our students can speak English. The fact that most cannot doesn't mean we're not succeeding!"

I live in the US. I'm in education. I see the results of the problems in the US educational system every day close up. I experience customer service people who cannot do simple math, who cannot write in their own language, who cannot follow written instructions. Our city's school system has a graduation rate of 61%. Pointing out that the nearby suburban school has a graduation rate of 91% does nothing to help the students who are not succeeding at our school. And we are in a "good" state, not some educational backwater like, say, Louisiana. (Hi, Housecat! :D )

Education as a whole needs to leave the concept of "cohort" and "bell curve" behind and adopt mastery teaching, certainly with regard to the nearly 40% of students who will not graduate from high school this year in our district.
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby ScottSommers » 28 May 2011, 22:12

ironlady wrote:
ScottSommers wrote:Factually, there are US states that do as well as Asian nations.


Sure, but that's like saying, "Well, some of our students can speak English. The fact that most cannot doesn't mean we're not succeeding!"

I live in the US. I'm in education. I see the results of the problems in the US educational system every day close up. I experience customer service people who cannot do simple math, who cannot write in their own language, who cannot follow written instructions. Our city's school system has a graduation rate of 61%. Pointing out that the nearby suburban school has a graduation rate of 91% does nothing to help the students who are not succeeding at our school. And we are in a "good" state, not some educational backwater like, say, Louisiana. (Hi, Housecat! :D )

Education as a whole needs to leave the concept of "cohort" and "bell curve" behind and adopt mastery teaching, certainly with regard to the nearly 40% of students who will not graduate from high school this year in our district.


You're joking me, right? I cite measured data and like a Harvey Levin clone you tell me "I'm a teacher." Once again, I'm sorry your students are disappointing you, but didn't you have all sorts of complaints about teaching in Taiwan, as well? But then I got it, you didn't read my link, did you! Posting off the cuff, again, aren't you.
Becoming Taiwan: From Colonialism to Democracy, by Ann Heylen and Scott Sommers is now available on Google Books http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Taiwan-Colonialism-Democracy-Formosiana/dp/3447063742

"Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies? An Empirical Study on Political Affiliation and Conspiratorial Thinking," by Scott Sommers
The Skeptic Magazine, Volume 16 Number 2
available here

comments about 9/11 conspiracy on the Independent Sentinel
available here
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby heimuoshu » 29 May 2011, 01:04

Well, now I have not misread any posts so here is my next question.
Whether there is a serious problem or not, is no child left behind or race to the top the answer?
I ask this cause everyone seems to know better.
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby ScottSommers » 29 May 2011, 01:13

heimuoshu wrote:Well, now I have not misread any posts so here is my next question.
Whether there is a serious problem or not, is no child left behind or race to the top the answer?
I ask this cause everyone seems to know better.


Nah, NCLB and all that stuff is on the way out. In the next 5 to 10 years, you'll see it replaced with Value Added Modeling (VAM)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value-added_modeling
Becoming Taiwan: From Colonialism to Democracy, by Ann Heylen and Scott Sommers is now available on Google Books http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Taiwan-Colonialism-Democracy-Formosiana/dp/3447063742

"Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies? An Empirical Study on Political Affiliation and Conspiratorial Thinking," by Scott Sommers
The Skeptic Magazine, Volume 16 Number 2
available here

comments about 9/11 conspiracy on the Independent Sentinel
available here
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby ironlady » 29 May 2011, 06:54

ScottSommers wrote:You're joking me, right? I cite measured data and like a Harvey Levin clone you tell me "I'm a teacher." Once again, I'm sorry your students are disappointing you, but didn't you have all sorts of complaints about teaching in Taiwan, as well? But then I got it, you didn't read my link, did you! Posting off the cuff, again, aren't you.



No, I'm not "joking you", Scott. A 61% graduation rate is no joke. Or is that not measured data to you? It matters not whether I am a teacher or a garbageman; that rate of successful completion of high school is unacceptable (and let's not get into the amount of money spent per student that yields that kind of result!) Additionally, not every kid who does graduate has any sort of proficiency in reading or math.

I deeply apologize if the actual truth of what's going on the States each and every day goes against a link you dug up, and if real local statistics are inconvenient to your conclusion.
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby housecat » 29 May 2011, 08:05

ironlady wrote:No, I'm not "joking you", Scott. A 61% graduation rate is no joke. Or is that not measured data to you? It matters not whether I am a teacher or a garbageman; that rate of successful completion of high school is unacceptable (and let's not get into the amount of money spent per student that yields that kind of result!) Additionally, not every kid who does graduate has any sort of proficiency in reading or math.I deeply apologize if the actual truth of what's going on the States each and every day goes against a link you dug up, and if real local statistics are inconvenient to your conclusion.


"Oh! You want better graduations rates! Sure, I can give you better graduation rates. Hell, I thought you wanted kids who could read and write!"

The above is me taking creative license with the old joke about, "Sure, I can write you a check--I thought you wanted MONEY!"

But the reality is that many of those who graduate high school today can't write a complete sentence. A couple of years ago I was observing a class of high school Jr.s being preped for their National No Child Left Behind testing. The teacher was trying to explain a question that all but three students in the classroom had missed--they needed to identify the prepositional phrase. One of the brighter students raised his hand and asked, "Uhh, Oh! Oh, Mrs. ---, you mean that 'of' thang?" I am NOT making that up. He should have had that information down no later than 6th grade on the outside if he were a bit slow.

"Teaching for Mastery." Ha! Ha HA! That's so OVER. The best and brightest decided that we would use a test that REQUIRES a failure for every A and then rant about how bad our teachers are because everyone can't pass it! Come on. Quit dreaming. ( :wink: at Ironlady.)

But if you don't believe me (us), try teaching a university freshman comp class.
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby ScottSommers » 29 May 2011, 10:41

ironlady wrote:
ScottSommers wrote:Factually, there are US states that do as well as Asian nations.


Sure, but that's like saying, "Well, some of our students can speak English. The fact that most cannot doesn't mean we're not succeeding!"

I live in the US. I'm in education. I see the results of the problems in the US educational system every day close up. I experience customer service people who cannot do simple math, who cannot write in their own language, who cannot follow written instructions. Our city's school system has a graduation rate of 61%. Pointing out that the nearby suburban school has a graduation rate of 91% does nothing to help the students who are not succeeding at our school. And we are in a "good" state, not some educational backwater like, say, Louisiana. (Hi, Housecat! :D )

Education as a whole needs to leave the concept of "cohort" and "bell curve" behind and adopt mastery teaching, certainly with regard to the nearly 40% of students who will not graduate from high school this year in our district.


That's great. I'm glad. Personal stories are always fun to hear. It's just that your points are irrelevant to what I said in my post. I'm sure you'll figure that out when you get around to reading the links.
Becoming Taiwan: From Colonialism to Democracy, by Ann Heylen and Scott Sommers is now available on Google Books http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Taiwan-Colonialism-Democracy-Formosiana/dp/3447063742

"Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies? An Empirical Study on Political Affiliation and Conspiratorial Thinking," by Scott Sommers
The Skeptic Magazine, Volume 16 Number 2
available here

comments about 9/11 conspiracy on the Independent Sentinel
available here
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Re: China Post on English Teaching Qualifications

Postby housecat » 29 May 2011, 11:36

How are Ironlady's points irrelevant? Your links are for articles on international benchmarking which put the States right at the mean of a bunch of other countries, Taiwan (or "Chinese Taipei") at the top. Your links also talk about how fruitless it would be for individual states to participate because it would be a high cost endevor that wouldn't likely yield much variance in outcome. Right?

So how are Ironlady's observations irrelevant? She states that in her area, in NY, almost fourty percent will not graduate. She states that she's in a "good" state for Education rather than from someplace down south, where I'm from. There are HUGE differences from state to state, and even within individual in-state districts! You bet it makes a very, very big difference!

BTW, is it okay to count a drop-out's test scores? I mean, as long as he/she took the test before dropping out, right? Or maybe the fact that he/she dropped out should indicate a less than sucessful academic progress?

What about the test scores of kids in Special Ed? Did you know that a school district gets state/federal money for each SPED kid tested, regardless of outcome. Different monies do depend on outcome, however, so states LOVE SPED kids on portfolio assessment! An "A" portfolio equals a pass on the benchmark, and the district can count on those dollars. The quality of a portfolio has nothing at all to do with the kid and EVERYTHING to do with the teacher who is writng it. A teacher has an enormous amount of control over the outcome of those particular test scores.

And what of the kids listed as English language learners?

There are simply so many ways to play this game. There are simply so many factors to include, exclude, control for, etc. . . .

So your stats take a very, very broad survey of these tests and compare them to very broad surveys of other tests in other countries and come up with Taipei on top and the US in the middle. I SUCK at math, but even I can tell you that that same chart could have been made to reflect anything you wanted it to with a little different wording, or different factors considered.
But the fact remains that it doesn't say anything at all of value about the state of US education. The fact that almost 40 percent of the students in a "good" education state aren't going to graduate, and that many who do graduate won't be able to read or write, says a great, great deal.
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