Education by statistics

February 10, 2010
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So many people in the business world are measured by numbers. Lawyers rack up billable hours, venture capitalists strive for returns on investment and factory workers attack defects. And don’t overlook sales, the ultimate in rising or falling based on one’s merits.

School districts, administrators and teachers have been judged on Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress scores for a number of years, but they’re about to be plunged deeper into seeing their performances measured by statistics.

The Indiana Department of Education today rolled out a plan that gauges how much students are learning by comparing individual students to peer students across the state. A student’s academic achievement will be compared against other students in the state who scored at the exact same level on ISTEP+. School systems then will be summarized as high-achieving/high-growth, high-achieving/low-growth, low-achieving/high-growth, and low-achieving/low-growth. And parents will know how much their child is improving compared to their peers.

The department hopes a more detailed analysis will better reveal what works and what doesn’t. And don’t forget that the department wants teacher salaries based partly on test scores.

Here’s a related question. How will private outfits like Park Tudor School, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School and Heritage Christian School respond as public schools get more serious about improvement?

It’s easy to dismiss private school boasts about high tests scores because the students have motivated parents. What’s difficult to determine is how much private schools elevate academics of already high-performing students.

Parents who like the more detailed statistics coming out of public education might start asking those kinds of questions of private schools.

Should private schools adopt the same system, or maybe a similar one? If they don’t, will they fall behind? Remember that Detroit car companies ruled the nation’s highways until they rejected Edwards Deming’s statistical measures and he took the ideas to a manufacturing backwater called Japan.

Might public schools improve so much that they give private schools a run for their money?

Your thoughts?

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  • Private Schools will LOVE Growth Models
    For one, it will help dispel the exaggerated claims that private schools are working with "better raw material." That may be true for a small number of selective private schools; but most of Indiana's private schools are essentially open enrollment - and many Catholic schools in the inner cities are serving very challenging populations.

    Indeed, the Catholic schools in the Indianapolis Archdiocese are already using growth data to evaluate the performance of their schools, their teachers and their students - so they're already ahead of this game.

    And that's just one of the reasons that many private schools do so well. They actually seek out and adopt these kinds of improvement strategies. They don't wait around for state mandates.

    Unfortunately, much of that gets ignored by the teachers unions and other skeptics who can't bring themselves to believe that many private schools actually do things differently and that their success is not the result of better "raw product."

    The growth model will help demonstrate all of that.
  • It is a classroom that the public schools work with
    Yes, matching a poor IPS student with a poor Greenwood student is an improved method of grading teaching progress....but it excludes that fact that the IPS school has a classroom full of distractions that pull down learning opportunities. When a public school or big city school can leave-no-student-behind, it means these students are dragging every other student down. One must consider the classroom composition and how that composition prevents learning.

    A key to remember, each school trys their best to teach. Government only prevents progress with rules and regulations that hurt the average public school student.
  • It is a classroom that the public schools work with
    Yes, matching a poor IPS student with a poor Greenwood student is an improved method of grading teaching progress....but it excludes that fact that the IPS school has a classroom full of distractions that pull down learning opportunities. When a public school or big city school can leave-no-student-behind, it means these students are dragging every other student down. One must consider the classroom composition and how that composition prevents learning.

    A key to remember, each school trys their best to teach. Government only prevents progress with rules and regulations that hurt the average public school student.
  • Not a Change
    As long as the system is still setup to ensure fewer class days instead of more, practical classes instead of theory, and rigidity instead of flexibility, the quality of education in Indiana will always be lower than that of the world. We need real education modernization, not just facial changes.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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