The “Achievement Gap” is a name used to describe the persistent and unjust disparity between test scores among different racial and economic groups enrolled in South Carolina’s government schools.
New data have been released, and some are hoping it constitutes a reversal of this troubling long term trend.
The political publicists at the State Department of Education spun it this way:
South Carolina’s “achievement gap” between white and African-American students mirrors the rest of the nation’s, according to a federal government report released today. Although mathematics and reading test scores have improved for both ethnic groups, the gap between the two has decreased only in math.
But looking past the soundbites, the data do not seem to mesh with other, independently gauged, indicators. Continue reading
A SLED investigation into MiShawna Moore, erstwhile darling of the South Carolina education establishment and suspected test “tailor,” has come up with nothing.
As principal of Sanders-Clyde Elementary, a chronically failing public school in Charleston County, Moore came under heavy suspicion when PACT scores at her school suddenly shot up above district and state levels. When tests were carefully monitored, scores dropped significantly in every subject; drops that were characterized as “unusual” and “much greater” than other schools. Equally troubling was the higher-than-usual number of erased and corrected answers.
Moore-and other school employees- insisted that the scores were legitimate, and that drops could be blamed on harsh test monitors denying students snacks.
The Associated Press reports that the SLED investigation into the situation has ended, with nothing to show for it.
It is everyone’s hope that there was no altering of test grades, and that somehow the numerous and incredibly sketchy indications of illicit conduct are pure happenstance, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Hopefully, the schools overseers in Charleston County and in the SC Department of Education will continue to look into this situation, and prevent more children from being similarly short-changed.
Everyone is willing to admit there is a serious problem. South Carolina parents have heard over and over the about long-term trends of low college entrance test scores, growing racial achievement gaps and sinking graduation rates in local public schools.
Despite the steady stream of bleak reports on public schools, state education officials still insist that South Carolina’s high academic standards provide real accountability to parents.
The Education Oversight Committee (EOC) is an organization charged with acting as South Carolina’s default education “watchdog.” However, late and vaguely-worded school report cards and increasingly watered-down standards have many South Carolinians wondering whether the public education establishment is more focused on eradicating failures, or covering them up. Now, with many jobs in the state’s education bureaucracy being threatened by budget cuts, there is talk of further erosion of the already limited oversight. Continue reading
Frustrated parents know that low test scores, growing race- and wealth gaps, a 55% graduate rate and a surge in the number of failing public schools are a long term trend in South Carolina public schools.
Despite all the bad news, the taxpayer financed spin masters who profit from public school failure insists that South Carolina public schools are accountable to parents through “high standards.”
The so-called “watchdog” of public school accountability and performance is the oddly named Education Oversight Committee (EOC). From late and vague school report cards to watered down standards and even deliberate dishonesty, the Public School Establishment in South Carolina is fiercely dedicated to spending public money on hiding its performance failures.
Now, as bureaucrats scramble to protect their salaries in the face of state budget cuts, there is talk of further erosion of the the already limited “oversight” Continue reading
Tagged Beg, Begin, Begin in 2010, Begin in'10, Education Over, EOC, Mini, PACT, PASS, RISE SC, transparency and accountability
Friday, South Carolina’s State Department of Education finally released the public school and district report cards to parents across the state.
“Sadly this is more of the same news we have been receiving from the other indicators in the last two years – if you are poor or black, you are further behind your wealthy or white peers in South Carolina, and if you are lucky enough to live in one of the “good” districts you are still not regionally or nationally competitive” explained Randy Page of South Carolinians for Responsible Government.
In just two years 77 more public schools have dropped to “at-risk” or “below average.” Any credibility the State Superintendent might have claimed as a “reformer” has vanished, right along with the prospects of the children stuck attending those failing public schools. Continue reading
Tagged AYP, District Report Cards, dropout rate, graduation, graduation rate, HSAP, Jim Rex, PACT, PASS, report card, School Report Cards, transparency and accountability
The Anderson Independent-Mail posted an article detailing a speech by Jim Rex to the Oconee Alliance. In his speech, Rex bemoaned the possibility of more state budget cuts, and urged public schools to adopt a “culture of innovation” to help deal with decreasing resources.
“We’re all going to have to be more innovative; a lot of the solutions of the past just won’t work anymore,” Rex said. “We need a culture of innovation.”
In addition to calling for fiscal responsibility, Rex called the current zip code based system for school attendance an “antiquated notion,” a statement with which most families would eagerly agree. Continue reading
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Educational Effectiveness, Inez Tenenbaum, Jim Rex, open enrollment, PACT, School Choice, South Carolina, South Carolina Department of Education, South Carolina public schools, Spending, testing, wasteful spending
News Roundup: Gluttonous state and district administrators clamor for more money while classroom teachers worry about their jobs.
- Talk of diverting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) funds and shortening the school week to keep school buses fueled.
- Anti-reformer Bob Walker receives a surprise endorsement from a biased journalist (in a race he isn’t even running in).
- Dismal student performance throughout Beaufort School District may require state or federal “corrective action.”
- Charleston Post and Courier editorializes for more state oversight and third-party grading of PACT / PASS as Clyde-Sanders cheating scandal drags on.
Controversy over potentially fraudulent PACT scores at Sanders-Clyde Elementary School is still growing.
After SLED began investigating whether the school’s massive and inexplicable jump in academic achievement was the result of increased student performance or simple fraud, teachers and and administrators jumped to defend the legitimacy of the scores.
First, Mishawnda Moore- the principal responsible for the schools celebrated success- indicated that she was emotionally distraught about the accusations, and therefore could not be guilty. Now, teachers from the school have proposed that this year’s unbelievably low PACT scores are merely the result of test monitors creating a “hostile testing atmosphere” by watching the testing process and denying the students snacks.
Obviously Sanders-Clyde staff would be defensive whether they cheated or not. For these individuals to protest testing fraud accusations with totally non-empirical (or even probable) explanations does nothing to prove the allegations wrong. The Charleston Post and Courier offered a logical solution to the problem: let SLED conduct student achievement testing. Continue reading
The sign in front of Charleston’s Sanders-Clyde Elementary school read “where every child is more than a test score.”
As state police continue their investigation of systematic accountability test cheating at the school, former Principal MiShawna Moore has gone on record denying the charges.
In a recent interview with the Post and Courier‘s Diette Courrege, Moore (lawyers by her side) complained the investigation had greatly inconvenienced her.
Moore even suggested that the dramatic drop in scores after her departure and the arrival of outside oversight was the result of some children taking their behavioral medicine immediately before the tests, not earlier in the day.
She also complained that “teachers weren’t allowed to give students encouragement, snacks were prohibited, meals were skipped, and breaks were limited.” Continue reading