Arkansas Bombs No Child Left Behind Standards Arkansas Bombs NCLB Accountability Standards

 

 
Arkansas Bombs  NCLB Accountability Standards
Bad Means Good, and Good Means Bad Is Excuse Given by ADE
 

  “ Arkansas has some of the highest percentages in the nation of public schools categorized as academically troubled on the basis of student test results, according to a new report compiled for the Education Commission of the States.


      Twenty percent, or 233, of Arkansas’ 1,159 public schools are classified this year as being in Year 1 of the School Improvement program mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. That puts Arkansas in a tie with Nevada as the fourth worst-performing state in that category.


     Similarly, 6 percent of Arkansas schools — 69 — are categorized as being in Year 2 of School Improvement, putting the Natural State in a tie with California for the third-worst ranking in the nation.


      But officials at the Education Commission of the States headquarters in Denver and the Arkansas Department of Education said Monday that the state’s low rankings may be more a reflection of differences in how states carry out the federal law than the relative degree of student achievement”  (Quotes from Arkansas Democrat Gazette,  “State’s School Rank Poorly In National Report”, March 29, 05.

 

            So what are Arkansans to think about where we stand on education and/or educational improvements after all the money that has been put into the system.  Our legislation was supposed to produce accountability and transparency.  How can we have accountability when  even the experts can’t tell us what the scores mean or when good means  bad and bad means good as Janine Riggs suggested when she said,  "When I look at some of the numbers from the other states, I am stunned.  I thought we would be in the mix. I didn’t think some [states] would be so low. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. I just found it very interesting." 

 

            The newspaper article above went on to report that Mary Fulton, a policy analyst for the commission, said,  “There are a lot of reasons why you might be on that high end — completely legitimate ones.   The reasons could include differences in the tests given to students in each state, differences in the minimum achievement levels the schools must reach each year and differences in how a state counts schools that don’t receive federal Title I funding, she said.”  So why are we spending all this money on accountability if  these failing schools mean nothing?  There surely is a lot of  anguish and loss of  morale  among the teachers and students in these failing schools, and for what since  the ratings and standing of the schools mean nothing according to the experts.  Is it all just sound and fury? 

 

            It is obvious that the Arkansas Department of  Education has failed miserably again.  (1) They either have failed in their efforts to improve student education, or   (2)  They set the standards in Arkansas too higher  than necessary and thereby made the teachers and students in Arkansas look extremely bad, or  (3) They  purposely set the standards too high  so the state could take over more and more schools.    The major players at the ADE have been in place for a number of  years now.  Shouldn’t some heads roll over this? 

 

My prediction is  that this is controlled  confusion so we can move into the next step of  having one federal test for all states in order to eliminate all this ambiguity.  Of  course once you have government accountability, there will be no accountability.  They will just manipulate the scores for political expediency  like they did in Arkansas just before Governor Huckabee was elected the last time, manipulate the difficulty of the test,  or hide the scores like they did the last 20 years in Arkansas despite the  accountability law passed back in 1983.

 

  For real transparency, see the test scores below that resulted from more and more government control in Arkansas.  When I put these scores in a table so they could be easily compared and then showed these scores to legislators and other leaders,   none of  them had ever seen them in a form where they could compare them like this. None  of them knew how our scores had dropped for several years in a row.   Since they could not manipulate the nationally normed tests to their satisfaction, they changed the accountability laws to use the Arkansas benchmark tests on which the NCLB ratings were made. So our Arkansas Department of Education have failed us miserably again and so has government control

 

This is true transparency!

Nationally Normed Test Scores

From Beginning of  Accountability Law,  1979, in Table Form

    A fact that no one in this entire educational debate has noted is that the tests scores the first years the Arkansas accountability system was implemented are higher than they are now. The scores for 1984-85 on the nationally normed tests were 61% in 4th grade; 57% in 7th Grade and 51% in 10th Grade.   After the largest tax increase in state history in 1983 and increased funding from 1.4 billion in 1995 to 2.8 billion in 2001, the scores had decreased significantly to 51% in 5th grade, 51% in 7th grade, and 49% in 10th grade on the nationally normed tests. The averages for tests from 1995-2003 indicate a consistent pattern with 2001 scores: 51% in 5th grade; 50% in 7th grade; and 48% in 10th grade.

 

Year

5th Grade

7th Grade

10th Grade

2003 SAT-9  Spring

57%

57%

48%

2002  No Test

No Test This Year

No Test This Year

No Test This Year

 2001 SAT-9 Fall

51%

51%

49%

2000 SAT-9 Fall

50%

50%

48

1999 SAT-9 Fall

48%

49%

47%

1998  SAT-9Fall

47%

48%

47%

1997 SAT-9 Fall

47%

48%

47%

1996 SAT-9 Fall

46%

47%

46%

1995 SAT-9 ? Fall

55%

54%

52%

1995  Spring SAT-8

50%

50%

49%

1994 Spring SAT-8

52%

51%

50%

1993  Spring SAT-8

51%

49%

52%

1992 SAT-8 Spring

52

51

49

1991 MAT 6 Spring

65

60

57

1990 MAT 6 Spring

67

61

58

1989 MAT 6 Spring

67

60

56

1988 MAT-6 Spring

66

59

55

1987 MAT 6 Spring

66

58

54

1986 MAT6 Spring

66

58

54

1985 MAT 6 Spring

64

54

53

1984 SRA Spring

61

57

51

 

      It is unbelievable that Arkansas set up an accountability system, and these scores have never been posted in a full picture or printed in a newspaper in full.  To get the scores  for 1988-1995 we had to go to Little Rock to get them.  They literally refused to send them to us by fax or mail.  In 1995 the ADE wouldn’t even give us that year’s scores by phone or mail.   Their excuse was that the report generated about 900 pages and they could not send all of  that. I  have noted this in my files  and the names of  the people who  refused to send them to me, Dec. 28, 1995.

      I was told by Donna Wolfe in Testing that the 2003 scores could not be compared to other scores unless they were equated because they were compared to a different sampling.   

 

 by Debbie Pelley

 dpelley@cox-internet.com

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