January 27, 2006

Good news about DE schools?

Gooch did some research for a class he's taking and found the following (good) news about Delaware schools:

Schools spend fewer dollars per student in Utah than in any other state, but more fourth-graders there improved reading and math scores over the past decade than in more than half of the states. (Hmm ... who was talking about how much more school $$ were needed to make DE schools "at the market norm"?)

Utah students' academic success is due in part to the state's lower-than-average population of minority and non-English-speaking students, who historically score lower. But state education officials also credit their efforts to raise state academic standards, such as by aligning classroom curricula with standardized tests and holding schools accountable for student performance. (If there's a correlation between money spent per pupil, why aren't Utah's results worse? What does having minority students -- "who historically score lower" -- have to do with it? Why do they score lower? Anyway, now for the pertinent stuff ...)

Delaware, which ranks eighth-highest in the nation on spending, increased the percentage of students who can read at grade level more than any other state and was the only state to make better-than-average gains in both fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math. While nationally the number of fourth-graders who can read at grade level increased by fewer than 3 percentage points since 1992, Delaware increased its percentage of passing fourth-graders by 10 percentage points. National reading scores for eighth-graders dropped slightly since 1992, but the number of Delaware eighth-graders who were rated proficient in reading increased nearly 7 percentage points.

A report by the magazine Education Week released this month found that states that made the largest gains on the NAEP -- including Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas -- were also the most fervent and longest supporters of standards-based education reforms.

The report, "Quality Counts 2006," found that factors such as per-pupil spending and student demographics had less of an impact on student achievement than a state's history of raising expectations and standards.

Well, imagine that. It's not exactly rocket science. International comparisons show this. For the record, there was a big debate at Felix's post about John Stossel's recent special report on education, on exactly what Delaware spends per pupil. The answer: $9693. (Link is here -- it's an Excel file.) But to Education Week, the point is moot.

Anyways, it's nice to read some good news about DE schools for a change. My close-knit group of buddy teachers work their tails off each and every day. It's pleasant to read something that shows their efforts have borne some fruit.

Posted by Hube at January 27, 2006 06:01 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Hube -- I'm fascinated by this. To what to you attribute the improvement?

Posted by: delathought at January 27, 2006 06:31 PM

Did you know that Utah is the only state in the nation to refuse No Child Left Behind funds?

Posted by: Dana Garrett at January 28, 2006 10:35 AM

There is a new bill before the delaware legislature to get rid of the innane DSTP program and replace it with a national test.....Kudos to the honorable Rep. Smith for once again coming up with a common sense proposal that is about ten years late.....I also believe that the main reason for student achievement gains in delaware is not about money, but about hard work by core educators, students being 'feared' into performance as a result of draconian consequences, and the non reporting of low test scores because of the policy of when the test is 'read' to a student, it does not go on record for that schools aggregate reporting totals (I know of schools where tucked away in every little nook and cranny is someone reading a test to low performers!!!!!!!!!!!) Now back to the proposal.....think of the money saved (millions per year) of purchasing an off the shelf test that unlike the dstp, teachers will know what is being tested, a test that won't take up to ten days to administer, and a test that can legitimately be used to rank/compare with other states under the no child left behind law! The use of the savings could be better spent both in the classroom and upgrading teacher salaries....and another hidden expense of the dstp gone bye bye would be the loss of beauracratic jobs in each district and at doe whose only job is dstp related.....ie.....paper pushers that waste time justifying their 'jobs?' by coming up with lame aspirin ideas that put more burdens on the classroom teachers! Rant on!

Posted by: cardinals fan at January 28, 2006 11:06 AM

In order:

DT: IMO, I believe one solid "good" consequence of NCLB is its insistence on raising minority academic achievement -- focusing on "closing the gap," if you will. I've often said the law is far from perfect (for instance, schools' "ratings" are unfairly labeled even if a school shows gains in every but one (out of up to some 37 sub-categories), and even if a school continues to show gains but may not have yet met a pre-established goal. But from personal experience (and that of other teaching colleagues in DE and elsewhere) I can tell you the law has focused on the gap more than ever before. (But that can't be! Isn't George Bush racist?) That last tidbit may be tongue-in-cheek, but I have indeed encountered many a (leftist) educationist who have indeed opined that NCLB is exactly that -- a blatant (or hidden) racist plot! Here's a perfect example.

Dana: yes, I was aware of that. Maybe DE ought to follow suit.

CF: The DSTP, as constructed, is a joke. I agree. My school board is fighting to get the state to adopt the NAEP itself as the new DE state test. That would be an excellent move. The sad part of that is, the state already spent millions to formulate the lousy DSTP!

Posted by: Hube at January 28, 2006 12:06 PM

It is sad the amount of money de has already spent on the repundent dstp....but I say stop throwing the millions per year down the drain of uselessness, get a cheap national test (Naep is fine too), get rid of nonsense jobs at doe and district offices around the state, and put the money to the hard working teachers like myself and yourself! Gov. Minner (or should I say Minor) has slapped us in the face again by putting forth a budget with a paltry 1% increase for state employees......now that is a sure fire way to attract the best and the brightest to the teaching trenches!!!!!!!

Posted by: cardinals fan at January 28, 2006 06:05 PM

I noted in a comment to the Stossel posting that in Maryland the greatest increase in Education spending has not been on teachers!
Yet there are those who continue to insist that funding is the main issue in education.
Yes, obviously you need a certain amount of money for a good school system. But unless you spend that money wisely, it won't help.
It's also worth pointing out that some of the functions of schools now, are matters that used be outside the scope of the educational system; such as counseling.

Posted by: David Gerstman at January 29, 2006 10:02 AM

Everyone owes it to themselves to check out what the Rodel Foundation is doing to revolutionize the education system in Delaware.

Posted by: delathought at January 29, 2006 07:07 PM

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