Showing posts with label student achievement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label student achievement. Show all posts

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Bill Gates misinterprets education data

Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 03/11/2011

How Bill Gates misinterprets ed facts

This was written by Richard Rothstein, a research associate at theEconomic Policy Institute, a non-profit created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers. This appeared on the institute's website.

By Richard Rothstein
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates authored an op-ed published in The Washington Post late last month, “How Teacher Development could Revolutionize our Schools,” proposing that American public schools should do a better job of evaluating the effectiveness of teachers, a goal with which none can disagree. But his specific prescriptions, and the urgency he attaches to them, are based on the misrepresentation of one fact, the misinterpretation of another and the demagogic presentation of a third. It is remarkable that someone associated with technology and progress should have such a careless disregard for accuracy when it comes to the education policy in which he is now so deeply involved.
Gates’ most important factual claim is that “over the past four decades, the per-student cost of running our K-12 schools has more than doubled, while our student achievement has remained virtually flat.” And, he adds, “spending has climbed, but our percentage of college graduates has dropped compared with other countries.” Let’s examine these factual claims:
Bill Gates says: "Our student achievement has remained virtually flat."
The only longitudinal measure of student achievement that is available to Bill Gates or anyone else is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP provides trends for 4th, 8th, and 12th graders, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and poverty, since about 1980 in basic skills in math and reading (called the “Long Term Trend NAEP”) and since about 1990 for 4th and 8th graders in slightly more sophisticated math and reading skills (called the “Main NAEP”).[*]
On these exams, American students have improved substantially, in some cases phenomenally. In general, the improvements have been greatest for African-American students, and among these, for the most disadvantaged. The improvements have been greatest for both black and white 4th and 8th graders in math. Improvements have been less great but still substantial for black 4th and 8th graders in reading and for black 12th graders in both math and reading. Improvements have been modest for whites in 12th grade math and at all three grade levels in reading.
The following table summarizes these results, for the earliest and most recent years for which disaggregated data were collected.