Two Data Points Do Not Make a Trend…

… but they do allow us to construct a line.

Point one: Over at the Gormogons, Ghettoputer reports the following passage from his local school district’s recent budget presentation:

“The educational paradigm has shifted from guaranteeing universal access to guaranteeing universal performance.”

Now, I suppose that even a poor performance is in fact some kind of performance, and that as long as everyone does something, then the guarantee is fulfilled, but I suspect that isn’t how “universal performance” is meant here. To make it work in the (politic/educational romanticist) way in which I suspect it is meant, we either have to lower the bar substantially, commit a variation of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy (Bobby is a hopeless dunderhead, and therefore isn’t included in the universe of our “universal performance.”), or just plain lie.

But eventually, facts get in the way, and that brings us to

Point two: The principal at a middle school in Ipswich, MA, has decided to bag the school’s Honors Night, claiming it might devastate the less honorable. An area TV station also reports:

Fabrizio [the principal] also said he decided to make the change because academic success can be influenced by the amount of support a student receives at home and not all students receive the same level of emotional and academic support at home.

Ah, the “You didn’t build that” argument.

As I said, not necessarily a trend, but enough for a line. The slope of said line is left as an exercise for the student. But if not everyone can construct the line, let’s just ignore the result, OK?


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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4 Responses to Two Data Points Do Not Make a Trend…

  1. Mr. Shreck says:

    Self esteem is for wusses.

  2. Amanda says:

    The discourses of “failure” that have been circulating since Sputnik have led to devastating changes in our educational values, our perceptions of teaching, and our (ineffective) focus on testing rather than on actual learning. Classrooms have become test-prep holding pens; content has been replaced by watered-down skills that are never applied to real experiences, and we’re more focused on graduating students than equipping them.

  3. Javahead says:

    Nothing wrong with testing, if what you test is actually what you need to verify. Lots wrong if the test doesn’t do a good job of measuring skills, or if the test is dumbed down to ensure an acceptable number pass.

    My older daughter (in her 3rd year of grad school) was depressed a few weeks back when she got back a midterm and found she’d received a low C grade (73 percent, I think). Then the professor pointed out that these were raw scores, not curved. And that she was still in the top 10% of the 50 or so tested – nobody had topped 80%. It was meant as a wake-up for the class, because in their field (Pharmacy) getting it right matters – and being the most knowledgeable ignoramus in the group isn’t good enough. Make a mistake and someone can die.

    There’s a lot wrong with standardized testing as implemented (and I strongly believe that education should be controlled from the bottom up (local, district, maybe state at the most) rather than the current federal unfunded mandates from-on-high. But I’ve also noticed that districts that have the most to be ashamed of are the ones squealing the loudest.

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