robertogreco + rankings   53

Clarence Thomas’s Radical Vision of Race | The New Yorker
"In making sincerity the litmus test of American racism, Thomas took a strand of the black nationalism that influenced his early development and wove it into an entire philosophy of race. In the nineteen-twenties, at an especially acute moment of racist reaction in the United States, Marcus Garvey also found comfort in the promise of candor. “They are better friends to my race for telling us what they are, and what they mean, than all the hypocrites put together,” Garvey said, of the Ku Klux Klan. “I like honesty and fair play.”

For Thomas, dishonesty was not only about race; it was also about class. However well intentioned white liberals were about remedying racial inequality, their élitism was steadfast. At Yale, some of Thomas’s classmates would query the absence of class rankings and grades. “You do not separate cream from cream,” a professor responded. “It is your fate as a Yale Law School student to become one of the leaders in the legal profession. It will happen, not because of you personally, but because you are here. That is what happens to Yale Law School students.” But Yale’s black students were separated from the cream; indeed, the absence of rankings was used to effect that separation. As he approached graduation, Thomas tried to secure a position at an élite law firm in Atlanta, which had no black associates. One of the marks against him was that he had no grades. Even if he came from Yale, how could his prospective employers know how good he was?

Thomas came to believe that, for the white liberal, offering help to black people was a way to express the combined privileges of race and class. This is a running theme of Wright’s “Native Son,” in which Bigger Thomas, a poor black man from the slums of Chicago, is given an opportunity to rise when a wealthy white family hires him as a chauffeur. The idea that black people can advance only with the help of whites is anathema to Clarence Thomas, who has identified with Wright’s protagonist throughout his life. For him, white benevolence denies black people the pride of achievement. By contrast, if one is black and overcomes the barriers of Jim Crow, one can be assured that the accomplishment is real. Thomas often invokes the example of his grandparents, who, despite segregation, managed to acquire property and support their family. Though they “had to work twice as hard to get half as far,” they knew, however far they got, that the distance was theirs. When black people succeed in the shadow of white benefactors, that certainty is lost.

This is the loss that Thomas has suffered since his youth: not of the color line but of its clarity. It’s a loss that he associates with liberalism, the North, and, above all, integration. “I never worshiped at the altar” of integration, he declared, five years after joining the Court. As he told Juan Williams, who wrote a profile of Thomas in The Atlantic, “The whole push to assimilate simply does not make sense to me.” It is a loss that Thomas has set out—from his early years as a young black nationalist on the left to his tenure as a conservative on the Court—to reverse.

Thomas’s rightward drift, which began in the seventies, was inflected by the very ethos that once put him on the left: namely, disaffection with black liberalism and the mainstream civil-rights movement. In his memoir, Thomas notes that part of the appeal of black nationalism was tied to his sense, in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, that “no one was going to take care of me or any other black person in America.” Eventually, this notion extended to the left. “I marched. I protested. I asked the government to help black people,” Thomas told the Washington Post, in 1980. “I did all those things. But it hasn’t worked.” The whole repertoire of black politics—from mainstream activism to Black Power radicalism and beyond—now seemed pointless. By the eighties, Thomas, a member of the Reagan Administration, believed that state action could do nothing for African-Americans. Problems of racial inequality “cannot be solved by the law—even civil-rights laws,” he told an audience at Clark College, a historically black school in Atlanta, in the nineteen-eighties.

And yet it was on the bench that Thomas began to pursue his own particular vision of racial justice. In his first decade on the Court, Thomas often met with high-achieving black students from Washington’s poorer neighborhoods. One meeting—with a high-school student named Cedric Jennings—was immortalized in a 1998 Esquire piece. After several hours of warm conversation, Thomas asked Jennings what his plans were for college. “I’m off to Brown,” Jennings replied. Thomas frowned. Finally, he said, “Well, that’s fine, but I’m not sure I would have selected an Ivy League school. You’re going to be up there with lots of very smart white kids, and if you’re not sure about who you are, you could get eaten alive. . . . It can happen at any of the good colleges where a young black man who hasn’t spent much time with whites suddenly finds himself among almost all whites.”

This concern runs throughout Thomas’s jurisprudence. “Some people think that the solution to all the problems of black people is integration,” he said, in 1997. By his own admission, he is not one of them. In a lengthy 1982 research article (published with an acknowledgment to “the invaluable assistance of Anita F. Hill”), Thomas notes pointedly that “it must be decided . . . whether integration per se should be a primary goal.” At Thomas’s confirmation hearings, the Republican senator Arlen Specter pressed him on that claim, asking, “If you end segregation, doesn’t it necessarily mean that you are requiring school integration?”

At the time, Thomas dodged the question, but he has since given his answer on the Court. In the 1995 case Missouri v. Jenkins, the Court’s conservative majority held that federal courts could not force Missouri to adopt policies designed to entice suburban white students to predominantly black urban schools. Thomas joined the majority. In the Court’s private deliberations about the case, he argued, in the paraphrase of a profile of Thomas in The New Yorker, “I am the only one at this table who attended a segregated school. And the problem with segregation was not that we didn’t have white people in our class. The problem was that we didn’t have equal facilities. We didn’t have heating, we didn’t have books, and we had rickety chairs. . . . All my classmates and I wanted was the choice to attend a mostly black or a mostly white school, and to have the same resources in whatever school we chose.”

This private sentiment made its way into Thomas’s public statement about the case. His concurrence in Missouri v. Jenkins was “the only opinion,” legal scholar Mark Graber argues, “that questioned whether desegregation was a constitutional value.” If anything, Thomas believes that the state should—where it can, within the law—support the separation of the races. Looking back on his education, in an all-black environment, Thomas has admitted to wanting to “turn back the clock” to a time “when we had our own schools.” Much of his jurisprudence is devoted to undoing the “grand experiment” of which he believes himself to be a victim. As he made clear in 1986, “I have been the guinea pig for many social experiments on social minorities. To all who would continue these experiments, I say please ‘no more.’ ”

Perhaps the most insidious of those experiments, for Thomas, is affirmative action, which he has long opposed. His critics call him a hypocrite. “He had all the advantages of affirmative action and went against it,” Rosa Parks said of Thomas, in 1996. His defenders believe that Thomas is advancing a common conservative line—that affirmative action is a form of reverse racism, which imposes illegitimate burdens on whites. In fact, Thomas’s arguments are considerably more unorthodox than that. According to Thomas, affirmative action is the most recent attempt by white people to brand and belittle black people as inferior. Affirmative action does not formally mirror the tools of white supremacy; for Thomas, it is the literal continuation of white supremacy.

His argument is rooted in two beliefs, each informed by his time spent on the left. The first is that affirmative action reinforces the stigma that shadows African-Americans. Among many whites, blackness signals a deficit of intellect, talent, and skill. Even Supreme Court Justices, Thomas wrote in one opinion, “assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior.” When the state and social institutions identify African-Americans as beings in need of help, they reinforce that stigma. It doesn’t matter if some African-Americans succeed without affirmative action. In the same way that enslavement marked all black people, free or slave, as inferior, affirmative action—here Thomas borrows directly from the language of Plessy v. Ferguson—stamps all African-Americans with “a badge of inferiority.”

The second way affirmative action continues white supremacy is by elevating whites to the status of benefactors, doling out scarce privileges to those black people they deem worthy. The most remarkable element of Thomas’s affirmative-action jurisprudence, and what makes it unlike that of any other Justice on the Supreme Court, is how much attention he devotes to whites, not as victims but as perpetrators, the lead actors in a racial drama of their own imagination. Put simply, Thomas believes that affirmative action is a white program for white people.

We see this argument in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 affirmative-action case concerning the University of Michigan Law School. In the early nineteen-nineties, the school adopted an affirmative-action policy in order to create a more diverse student body. … [more]
clarencethomas  affirmitiveaction  elitism  admissions  colleges  universities  politics  polarization  law  conservativism  blacknationalism  race  racism  segregation  integration  inequality  prejudice  discrimination  rankings  grades  grading  richardwright  whitesaviorism  assimilation  supremecourt  liberalism  civilrights  coreyrobin  blakpanthers  blackpantherparty  meritocracy  hbus  solidarity  self-help  angeladavis  kathleencleaver  erickahuggins  bobbyseale  us  policy  activism  radicalism  cedricjennings  schools  busing  charleshamilton  blackpower  stokelycarmichael 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | The College Dropout Crisis - The New York Times
"American higher education has a dropout problem. About one in three students who enroll in college never earn a degree. But a promising solution is staring us in the face: Schools with similar students often have very different graduation rates. This suggests that the problem isn’t the students — it’s the schools.

Here we looked at 368 colleges arranged by what we would expect their graduation rates to be, based on the average for colleges with similar student bodies."



"For too long, she added, university leaders have been distracted and have been chasing prestige and rankings, rather than getting better at helping students succeed."
colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  dropouts  data  2019  statistics  education  academia  prestige  rankings 
june 2019 by robertogreco
An Honest College Rejection Letter - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
"Dear Applicant,

The Admissions Committee has carefully considered your application and we regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you admission in the entering class, or a position on one of our alternate lists. The applicant pool this year was particularly strong, and by that I mean the Admissions Committee once again sent candidates like you multiple enticing pamphlets encouraging you to apply, knowing full well we had no intention of accepting you.

However, you will be pleased to know that you have contributed to our declining admissions rate, which has helped our university appear exclusive. This allows us to attract our real candidates: upper-class kids and certified geniuses who will glean no new information from our courses or faculty, whose parents can incentivize us with a new swimming pool or lacrosse stadium.

As a reminder, we don’t aspire to be a socially exclusive learning environment. In fact, we have chosen to actively pursue a more diverse campus and welcome all minorities. But our admissions program is quite unique; we combat past discrimination by discriminating in the present. It is one of the many techniques that our Nobel, Peabody, and Oscar award-winning faculty has helped to develop.

While we consider applicants from all backgrounds who excel both in and out of the classroom, we really want student savants who relentlessly pursue a single instrument, sport, or other activity. Unless you have written a New York Times bestseller, won first place in the Intel Science Fair, or cured type 1 diabetes using only solar power and a tampon string, we’ll put you at the bottom of the pool.

You may be wondering how a near-perfect SAT and ACT, a dozen perfect AP scores, and your presidency of four clubs did not distinguish you from the pack. Please know that we take many other factors into account as well, including socio-political-monetary context, Asian-ness of name, BMI, and modified-Rorschach (in which one of our assistants holds your application from across the room and we try to discern the outline of your profile).

You should also know that our committee did not fall for your attempts to look “humble” or “well-rounded.” Volunteering in developing countries is nice, but truly generous individuals volunteer to improve their local communities, while truly wealthy families buy a third-world country for their child to gentrify. We also realize that your extensive study of how “Novel cyclic di-GMP effectors of the YajQ protein family control bacterial virulence” was not influenced by your passion for “volunteering with the elderly,” nor was it anything but a résumé inflator. Most importantly, we know that your minimum-wage job did not teach you “patience, teamwork and leadership.” No one learns anything from minimum-wage jobs except how much they hate people and that they shouldn’t have majored in political science.

The reality is that we are no longer looking for students who are remarkable candidates for college; we are looking for people who have already made a difference, so that we can grow our list of impressive alumni. Your value to our college depends solely on your ability to attract future applicants. Since you are no Emma Watson or James Franco, we urge you to consider your acceptance letters from state universities and equally expensive second-tier schools, and commence nursing an inferiority complex for the rest of your life.

We sincerely hope that you find it in your heart to forgive us for not “seeing” your “full potential.” Please remember that we will need your tiger-parent instincts in approximately three decades when you push your own children to the brink of death, and once again help us boost our US News & World Report ranking.

Best,
Dean of Admissions"
education  colleges  universities  diversity  admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  satire  mimievans  selectivity  competition  rankings  highered  highereducation 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Great American Meritocracy Machine – alex posecznick
"Cheating is a thing. It happens a lot. A few years ago, I was having a conversation with Gregoire, who ran the testing center at an institution I will call “Ravenwood College.” Although Ravenwood accepted SAT and ACT scores, they also had their own in-house entrance exam which was administered on site. Gregoire was meticulous in proctoring exams, checking paperwork and especially photo identification carefully. He recalled one time, when an applicant claimed to have left her ID in the Office of Admissions and said she would be right back. Later, the applicant returned with the ID and escorted by an admissions counselor, but it was an entirely different person.

She tried to persuade Gregoire that he was mistaken – that they had just spoken and she had come back as instructed. But he responded, with a roll of the eyes and a dry comment: “Okay, who did you get to take your exam for you?”

Sound familiar?

The Operation Varsity Blues admissions scandal has splatted hard in the middle of the media, and already faded from our attention. Several days of non-stop coverage and opinion, followed by fatigue. Our attention is nothing if not fickle. It is outrageous that wealthy elites and influential celebrities and their consultants have falsified documents and bribed coaches so their kids can go to extremely selective universities. And it makes sense that this would catch our collective attention. The story fundamentally undermines our trust in American meritocracy.

Maybe it should. Maybe that’s a good thing. Because the most noteworthy thing about the scandal is not the cheating. There are other important observations to be made. And there have been many who have made important observations about how affluent families already game the system in entirely legal ways. But there is more still to consider here.

I’ve spent a lot of my professional life around colleges and universities and seen wonderful and transformative things happen there. But we have to also recognize that a big part of what colleges do is sort students into piles based on merit. “Going to college” is one sort of meritorious pile that employers pay a lot of attention to; and in some circles the most relevant pile is which college we went to. And even affluent parents are under a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure their kids are sorted into the most distinctive pile. There is thus a lot of consequence here.

The contradiction, however, is that the more people obtain degrees, the less distinctive those degrees become. This pushes people to find new ways to be distinctive: a degree from this elite college, or perhaps a master’s degree. But this is an anxiety-fueled, credentials arms race – and although it can benefit colleges and universities financially, I’m not sure it is sustainable. How many loans can the average American family bear?

Elite institutions flourish when demand is high and admission low. Demand is measured by how many people you reject every year. But admission offices need to constantly balance the demands of coaches, wealthy donors, trustees, campus executives, ranking metrics, and alumni. One’s job could be at risk if the wrong donor is unhappy, or if the institution falls in a popular ranking system. We therefore need to acknowledge that colleges and universities are not the ivory towers we like to pretend they are. Not any longer. Colleges and universities are extremely competitive, profit-focused enterprises that must reconcile competing aims: educational mission on one side and market on the other. The big secret is that admission offices are under as much pressure as parents are.

This pressure shifts in less-selective spaces, but does not diminish.

Less-selective institutions flourish based on higher enrollments, because their budgets are so closely tied to the number of students sitting in their classrooms. Such institutions may have some strong standing locally, but like “Ravenwood” College, are not household names across the country. For these colleges, the consequence to a bad year could be layoffs, contractions, budget cuts, or closures. In fact, Ravenwood itself experienced some of these challenges. And this is increasingly a concern: by some accounts, private colleges are closing at the rate of 11 per year!

Public universities are not cushioned from such pressures either; many states have so severely cut funding to public higher education in recent years that they must learn to play the market like private institutions. Colleges and universities want to appear distinctive for the same reasons that we all do.

In short, we have built a massive, comprehensive infrastructure to “objectively” identify, evaluate, measure, and sort us into piles. And this sorting machinery involves high school administrations, college recruiters, College Board test designers, marketing teams, private test prep centers, university administrations, college athletics, federal regulatory agencies, voluntary accrediting agencies, magazine publishers, student loan lenders, employers, faculty, students, and their families.

Attending college does not define our value as human beings, but it would be naïve to pretend that there was no consequence to how we get sorted. When employers take note of a particular name or brand, what they are really interested in is how we’ve been continuously sorted into the right bins across our lifetimes. This scandal (and the many editorials since it broke) has revealed that this infrastructure is not objective. The notion of meritocracy has long been at the heart of the rhetoric of education in American society, but is that machinery broken?

Students of history should know that we’ve never had an objective, merit-measuring machine; this is not the story of national decline that some have been preaching. As many have been pointing out, affluent families systemically use their resources to give their kids advantage all the time – and always have. There are boarding schools, expensive test-prep programs, legacy admissions, private counselors and coaches, private violin lessons and extravagant service trips to other countries that make for a great personal statement. And despite some recent and limited interventions through affirmative action, communities of color have been systematically and appallingly excluded for centuries.

Operation Varsity Blues reveals that although the meritocracy machine is powerful and active, we should not always accept it at face value. Not only in elite space, but at all levels, we must recognize individuals for their achievements while weighing them critically and skeptically. In short, the best measure against a broken meritocracy machine is vigilant, morally-grounded people willing to challenge what they see. As long as we have the credentials arms race, there will be cheats and scammers – and the most noteworthy part of this scandal is not that some cheated, but that the wealthy perpetrators will face consequences.

Unless of course the siren call of some new big scandal distracts us."
meritocracy  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  2019  operationvaristyblues  alexposecznick  markets  degree  sorting  ranking  rankings  society  degreeinflation  employment  elitism  objectivity  testing  standardizedtesting  cheating  credentials  scams  corruption  admissions  anxiety  education 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Mike Gravel on Twitter: "Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class."
"Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class.

Professional Democrats and elite journalists are largely in thrall to the cult of meritocracy, which is the solidification and beautification of inequality. It is inequality based on socially-defined merit—but inequality nonetheless. It is “talent” made god.

And because the new elite ostensibly owes its position to merit, rather than inherited privilege, it feels no sense of noblesse oblige that older aristocracies felt; as Christopher Lasch pointed out, there is no valor or chivalry in the new system, just Darwinian triumph.

Ultimately, as Lasch said, “meritocracy is a parody of democracy.” Meritocracy is an idea that allows the ruling class to hold on to power through the illusion that they deserve it because of merit (read Genovese). It tells the underclass—don’t worry, all is just in the world.

The popularity of true leftism seems to augur the return of old class-based politics, when Democrats were populists who fought for equality, not inequality under the veil of meritocracy. Buttigieg is the archetypal meritocrat—he is the perfect one to save the system.

It is the dream and hope of the meritocrats in journalism and politics that Buttigieg’s shininess distracts from the ravaged country that the current system, the one he clearly wants to perpetuate, has created.

The rule of the meritocrats, the “best and brightest,” has given us a country riven by rampant inequality, drug addiction, and endless wars abroad. Whether their name is Wolfowitz or Summers or Rubin, they’ve been in charge for decades—and look how far we’ve come!

To paraphrase Bakunin: “When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called ‘the Meritocratic Stick.’”

It’s time to return to a politics cognizant of class, one that is not obsessed with helping the best and brightest rise to the top, with making our unequal system more diverse, but instead concerned with leveling the system entirely. The promise of a good life for all."
mikegravel  meritocracy  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  inequality  noblesseoblige  society  socialdarwinism  journalism  journalists  education  petemuttigieg  capitalism  liberalism  neoliberalism  class  classism  rankings  success  justification  talent  christopherlasch  chivalry  power  control  self-importance  canon  politics  policy  mikhailbakunin  paulwolfowitz  larrysummers  robertrubin 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Luxury Interiors – Popula
"The question of “U.S.C. versus A.S.U.” in this piece was unclear to me; to what extent was Hess underwriting this hierarchy? I wrote to ask her, and she replied that she wished she’d had the space to elaborate in the piece. And for good reason:
I’m from a Sun Devil family. My mom worked at Arizona State… I don’t think any of the jokes about ASU are based on a real understanding of the kind of education you could receive there; it’s based on the number of people who can access that education […]

The same people who surely believe that every child should have access to a college education also make sure to rank some of those educations as enviable and others as embarrassing. The idea of an elite, high-class education must be hoarded by a select few, because if everybody had it, it would lose its value to the elite.

Which just begins to explain why someone like Mossimo Giannulli might want to be able to say, “my daughter is at U.S.C.”

***

When people are willing to drown themselves in debt and even commit literal crimes in order to obtain an elite college education for themselves or their kids, what, really, what exactly, do they they think they are buying?

Or selling. What are people thinking, who are selling an “education” that is actively harming a whole society; that wrecks the fabric of a city, that causes people to lose their grip on their conscience, their sanity; that makes them set so catastrophic an example, somehow both before, and on behalf of, their children. All this makes a mockery of the Enlightenment values—by which I mean the egalitarianism and erudition of Alexander Pope, and not Edmund Burke getting himself in a lather over Marie Antoinette—that a Western education was once imagined to represent.

Reaction to the admissions scandal has so far centered on these rich parents and their unworthy spawn, whose lawyers now prepare to spin a tale of misguided, but forgivable, parental devotion. No less a cultural authority than the playwright David Mamet wrote an “open letter” defending accused admissions cheat Felicity Huffman; according to him, “a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment.” Except that the “moment” went on for months, according to court filings, and involved Huffman’s paying $15,000 to ensure that her daughter would have twice the time to complete her SAT exam that an ordinary, non-bribery-enabled kid would have. Also to hire a crooked proctor afterwards, who could change some of her daughter’s wrong answers to correct ones.

In any case, Hess is right: You can get an ultrafine education at A.S.U. That place is an R1 university, positively bristling with Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows. Walter V. Robinson, who led the famous “Spotlight” newsroom at the Boston Globe, teaches there. It’s wild to think anyone would be willing to blow half a million dollars to ensure an admission to U.S.C. over A.S.U.

Anyone who has been to (any) college can tell you that the proportion of enlightenment to hangovers varies greatly from customer to customer. It’s something else altogether that calls for the half-million bucks.

***

Coming from a quite different angle—and on March 27th, the very same day as Hess’s piece—Herb Childress, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, asked: “How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?” (“This is How You Kill a Profession.”) Childress is one of tens of thousands of Ph.D.s in the United States who failed to find a place on the tenure track, and who were slowly forced out of a professional academic career as their prospects faded year by year in the academic Hunger Games, as this brutal process is not uncommonly described.

You might assume that people like Childress just “didn’t make it” through some fault of their own, but you’d be wrong. Over the last fifty years academic work has come to look more and more like indentured servitude: Grad students and postdocs are a species of flexible workers in a gig economy, toiling in low-paying jobs waiting for their once-a-year chance to play the tenure track lottery.

Please note that these are the very people who work in the “good schools,” who are compelled to “teach,” for insanely low pay—like, a few thousand dollars per class—people like Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter Olivia Jade, a famous YouTube “Influencer.” This lady’s dad paid hundreds of thousands to put her in the orbit of hugely educated, committed, job-insecure people like Childress. She, meanwhile, impishly bragged to her legion of YouTube followers that she doesn’t really “care about school.”

And yet scholars like Childress can’t let go of their romantic notions of the academy, and their sense of vocation, which can easily be exploited; unfortunately they’ll agree to live the dream even at cut rates, as Childress himself openly admitted in the Chron.
The grief of not finding a home in higher ed—of having done everything as well as I was capable of doing, and having it not pan out; of being told over and over how well I was doing and how much my contributions mattered, even as the prize was withheld—consumed more than a decade. It affected my physical health. It affected my mental health. It ended my first marriage. […]

Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Consider the benefits-free, pension-free pittance paid to the vast majority of people providing the elite education, who never saw a dime of all those millions in bribes, and a more complicated and larger picture than we’ve yet seen emerges."



"I wasn’t nearly as much of a paragon, but as a brown-trash “gifted” kid who came up poor and went to fancy schools I can easily understand how listening to this brilliant lecturer dazzled my friend, and changed the course of his life. This feeling comes to students anywhere, everywhere, in every school with a good teacher with time and attention to give us. There was and still is something vital, something good and real, to want out of an “education,” something quite beyond the ken of the kind of people who would pay an SAT proctor to cheat.

Then there’s this other angle. I first went off to college already inured to the idea that I was involved in an economy; that we were trading. Everything had been made easier for the rich kids, of course, and it wasn’t their fault, all had been bought and paid for by their parents and grandparents, but also—a crucial thing—they had also lacked our luck; they lacked certain desirable qualities, qualities as randomly distributed as wealth, things with which some of us had won a different lottery, had skipped grades with and been celebrated for: the sort of “intelligence” that made school easy. There seemed to be a natural symbiosis in this structure, crazy and shameful as the whole business of “meritocracy” appears to me now.

But also like all college kids we mainly didn’t give a fuck about any of that and just got to be friends for true reasons, just loved one another. The rich kids happened to be able to teach the poor ones what fork to use and how to ski, and the poor and/or brown kids of halfway reasonable intelligence gave them books, new kinds of food and family, music and art, a view of the other side of the tracks, new ways to have fun. We poor ones brought, say, a taste for Lester Bangs, arroz con pollo, Brian Eno and Virginia Woolf; they treated us to foie gras and Tahoe and big old California cabs on our 18th birthday. Gross, right? Really gross. But the (grotesquely mistaken) idea was that we were bringing each other into a better world, a different world, and a little at a time the true, good world would finally come.

This may sound a bit tinfoil but now I suspect that the problem may have been, all along, that all the college kids started to realize together (as I think they are still) that there was something sick at the roots of this tree of knowledge as it was then constituted. Strangely, dangerously healing, egalitarian ideas began to take hold; demographics changed, and the country began to move to the left. The 90s was the era of the tenured radical on campus, and the culture wars grew white-hot. Al Gore was elected president, and was prevented by the merest whisker from taking office. Even a barely left of center President Gore would have made things a little too parlous for the powers that be, who are on the same side as the Giannullis of the world.

Hess told me that some people think there’s one kind of education within the purview of everyone willing to work to get it, the “embarrassing” kind, and then there’s another kind that is luxury goods, strictly for “elites” from “elite” institutions—however corrupt the latter may be—served tableside by an underpaid servant class.

But the egalitarian view of education and the luxury view are mutually exclusive. Pulling up the drawbridge around your ivory tower only cuts it off from the global commons, which alone can provide the intellectual atmosphere in which a free society, and its academy, can breathe and thrive. Power wants its “meritocracy”: thus the eternal cake-having rhetoric around higher education, the queasy mingling of “exclusivity” and “diversity.”

Note too that the ruling class protects its interests as starkly on the fake left of the centrist Democrats as it does on the right, where the Koch brothers have long bought professors like they were so many cups of coffee. In Jacobin, Liza Featherstone’s … [more]
education  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  mariabustillos  culture  society  smartness  petebuttigieg  operationvaristyblues  meritocracy  us  capitalism  competition  scarcity  lizafeatherstone  donaldtrump  centrism  herbchildress  academia  colleges  universities  rankings  admissions 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Why College Is So Expensive In America - YouTube
"College in the United States is expensive. The cost of higher education just keeps going up. Tuition costs at both public and private universities have doubled since the late 80s, while accounting for inflation.

"I think that it's so ingrained in your head that you have to go to college, that college is the next step after graduation," said Jarret Freeman, a college graduate with roughly $50,000 in student debt. "I think in hindsight, I see that college is not for everyone."

But a college education is becoming more and more necessary to succeed in today's economy. Georgetown University estimates that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require more than a high school degree.

Students graduate with an average of $37,172 in student loan debt. It all adds up to $1.5 trillion across the country.

Watch the video above to learn how higher education became big business, hear from former students facing mounting debt and explore why it's so important to solve the student debt crisis."
colleges  universities  tuition  studentloans  studentdebt  money  2019  education  highered  highereducation  rankings  usnewsandworldreport  wealth  inequality  tests  testing  meritocracy  data  sat  standardizedtesting  funding 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The official fast food French fry power rankings - Los Angeles Times
"Look, it’s been a long two years for everyone. We’re tired, our brains have been melted to a thin pap by the news cycle, and we’ve soundly backslid into our slothful ways despite resolving to exercise off all the cookies we cry-ate over the holiday. During times like this, it’s necessary to celebrate small victories. Celebrate the fact that you woke up this morning, and did or did not remember to bathe. Celebrate the fact that your insurance company has decided that therapy “should” cost $50 per session.

And celebrate the fact that I bring tidings of great joy. After a barely noticeable hiatus, I’m happy to announce the return of the food power rankings just in time for February, our shortest, drizzliest and most romantic month. That’s right, my friends, I am pleased as punch to announce the authoritative, totally not subjective, incontrovertibly definitive and 100% correct L.A. Times Fast Food French Fry Rankings.

French fries, a.k.a. chips, aka freedom fries, aka 炸薯条, are a delightful treat enjoyed the world over, and they’re a staple of the fast-food meal. And what is fast food, exactly? For the purposes of this survey, I've selected chains where there’s an emphasis on speed of service, you’re not waited on at a table, and where there are at least a couple hundred locations, if not more. I ordered medium- or regular-sized fries (when available) and judged them based on the two metrics: (1) taste and (2) texture, which includes fry shape and mouthfeel."
fries  food  comparison  classideas  2019  lucaskwanpeterson  restaurants  fastfood  rankings 
february 2019 by robertogreco
New SAT, but Same Old Problems | radical eyes for equity
"New SAT, but Same Old Problems (The Greenville News)
[https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/opinion/2017/10/22/new-sat-but-same-old-problems/783799001/ ]

P.L. Thomas, professor of Education, Furman University

While South Carolina has joined several states in rejecting Common Core for public school standards and testing, one powerful legacy remains, the revised SAT.

An original architect of the Common Core, David Coleman, now heads the College Board and has championed the new SAT, partly as more aligned with the Common Core.

Paul Hyde’s recent coverage of Greenville high schools’ scores on the revised test as well as a piece on charter schools and the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities offers a prime opportunity to address a new test but the same old problems.

Many advocating the new SAT have suggested that changing the test could address the large and persistent score gaps along race, social class, and gender lines.

However, reporting in Education Week, Catherine Gewertz reveals: “The 2017 SAT scores show inequities similar to those of earlier years. Asian (1181), white (1118), and multiracial (1103) students score far above the average composite score of 1060, while Hispanic (990) and African-American (941) students score significantly below it.”

For Greenville county as we consider the newest data and our urge to rank high schools by average SAT scores, we must once again confront some important facts that simple ranking tends to mask:

•SAT average scores should never be used to rank schools, districts, or states in terms of academic quality; this caution, in fact, comes from the College Board itself.

• SAT scores remain most strongly correlated with parental income, parental levels of education, gender (average male scores are higher than female scores), race, and access to courses.

• SAT scores are designed solely to be predictive for college success (not to measure academic quality of any school or state); however, high school GPA has long been a better predictor than the test."
2018  sat  testing  standardizedtesting  education  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  rankings  schools  publicschools  learning  inequality  bias  wealth  gender  sfsh 
february 2018 by robertogreco
How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus
"Once ladders of social mobility, universities increasingly reinforce existing wealth, fueling a backlash that helped elect Donald Trump."



"America’s universities are getting two report cards this year. The first, from the Equality of Opportunity Project, brought the shocking revelation that many top universities, including Princeton and Yale, admit more students from the top 1 percent of earners than the bottom 60 percent combined. The second, from U.S. News and World Report, is due on Tuesday — with Princeton and Yale among the contenders for the top spot in the annual rankings.

The two are related: A POLITICO review shows that the criteria used in the U.S. News rankings — a measure so closely followed in the academic world that some colleges have built them into strategic plans — create incentives for schools to favor wealthier students over less wealthy applicants.

Those criteria often serve as unofficial guidelines for some colleges’ admission decisions and financial priorities, with a deeply ingrained assumption that the more a school spends — and the more elite its student body — the higher it climbs in the rankings. And that reinforces what many see as a dire situation in American higher education.

“We are creating a permanent underclass in America based on education — something we’ve never had before,” said Brit Kirwan, former chancellor of the University of Maryland system.

For instance, Southern Methodist University in Dallas conducted a billion-dollar fundraising drive devoted to many of the areas ranked by U.S. News, including spending more on faculty and recruiting students with higher SAT scores — and jumped in the rankings. Meanwhile, Georgia State University, which has become a national model for graduating more low- and moderate-income students, dropped 30 spots.

Among the factors in the U.S. News formula are:

—Students’ performance on standardized admissions tests, which correlate strongly with family income, more than high school grades, which have less of a correlation.

— Having a lower acceptance rate, which many colleges have sought to achieve by leaning more on early decision admissions; this hurts lower-income students who apply to more schools in order to compare financial aid packages.

— Performing well on surveys of high school guidance counselors from highly ranked high schools, while many high schools in less affluent areas have few or no counselors.

— Alumni giving, which creates incentives to appease alumni by accepting their kids.

Meanwhile, there is no measurement for the economic diversity of the student body, despite political pressure dating back to the Obama administration and a 2016 election that revealed rampant frustration over economic inequality. There is, however, growing evidence that elite universities have reinforced that inequality.

Recent studies have produced the most powerful statistical evidence in decades that higher education — once considered the ladder of economic mobility — is a prime source of rewarding established wealth. One report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation found that kids from the top quartile of income earners account for 72 percent of students at the nation’s most competitive schools, while those from the bottom quartile are just 3 percent. Fewer than 10 percent of those in the lowest quartile of income ever get a bachelor’s degree, research has shown.

The lack of economic diversity extends far beyond the Ivy League, and now includes scores of private and public universities, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, which used tax data to study campus economic trends from 2000 to 2011, the most recent years available. For instance, the University of Michigan enrolls just 16 percent of its student body from the bottom 60 percent of earners. Nearly 10 percent of its students are from the top 1 percent."



"Alexander noted that a key to success in the rankings is paying higher faculty salaries and spending more per student overall, which drives up tuition in an era when sticker price has kept many low-income students from even applying to college.

Much of the score “is about spending the most amount of money on the fewest amount of students — and generally, students you already know are going to succeed,” Alexander said. “We’re spending more money on students who need it the least — and U.S. News gives you high marks for that. I call it ‘the greatest inefficiency ranking in America.’”

Carol Christ, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley — perennially near the top of the rankings — said the extent to which U.S. News motivates schools to pick wealthier students is “mind-boggling.”

“At a time when we should all be concerned about the financial efficiency of higher education, U.S. News rankings certainly don’t reward for that,” Christ said. “It’s so troubling to me.”

Kirwan cast the problem in simpler terms, saying that U.S. News creates the false impression that schools with the wealthiest students are, based on their criteria, the best.

“If some foreign power wanted to diminish higher education in America, they would have created the U.S. News and World Report rankings,” he said. “You need both more college graduates in the economy and you need many more low-income students getting the benefit of higher education — and U.S. News and World Report has metrics that work directly in opposition to accomplishing those two things that our nation so badly needs.”

An elitist equation

Higher education in America is a fiercely competitive enterprise. It’s a market-based system in which status is largely based on perception — a university’s prestige has an inordinate effect on who applies and how easily students are able to get jobs with lucrative employers. And the mark of prestige, in recent decades, has been a ratings system begun by the nation’s third-largest news magazine.

Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford University sociologist who has studied college admission practices, said the U.S. News rankings have evolved into nothing less than “the machinery that organizes and governs this competition.”

“They’re kind of a peculiar form of governance,” he said. “They’re not states, they’re not official regulators, they don’t have the backing of a government agency. But they effectively serve as the governance of higher education in this country because schools essentially use them to make sense of who they are relative to each other. And families use them basically as a guide to the higher education marketplace.”"
highered  highereducation  2017  usn&r  rankings  us  economics  inequality  elitism  colleges  universities  politics  donaldtrump  class  workingclass  benjaminwermund  testing  sat  act  admissions  grades  grading  socialmobility 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society Schools are...
"Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets.

Intense book to add to the unschooling shelf. Published in 1972, probably still as radical now as it was then, as many of the “symptoms” of the schooled society he describes have only gotten worse. Some of the big ones, below:

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe you need the society as it is.”
The pupil is… “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work.

“School is an institution built on axiom that learning is the result of teaching.”
Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school… Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting.

Most learning happens outside of the classroom.
Most learning happens casually, and even most intentional learning is not the result of programmed instruction. Normal children learn their first language casually, although faster if their parents pay attention to them. Most people who learn a second language well do so as a result of odd circumstances and not of sequential teaching. They go to live with their grandparents, they travel, or they fall in love with a foreigner. Fluency in reading is also more often than not a result of such extracurricular activities. Most people who read widely, and with pleasure, merely believe that they learned to do so in school; when challenged, they easily discard this illusion.

“The public is indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are the result of formal schooling.”
School teaches us that instruction produces learning. The existence of schools produces the demand for schooling. Once we have learned to need school, all our activities tend to take the shape of client relationships to other specialized institutions. Once the self-taught man or woman has been discredited, all nonprofessional activity is rendered suspect. In school we are taught that valuable learning is the result of attendance; that the value of learning increases with the amount of input; and, finally, that this value can be measured and documented by grades and certificates.

“School initiates young people into a world where everything can be measured, including their imaginations, and, indeed, man himself…”
People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same ruler to themselves. They no longer have to be put in their place, but put themselves into their assigned slots, squeeze themselves into the niche which they have been taught to seek, and, in the very process, put their fellows into their places, too, until everybody and everything fits. People who have been schooled down to size let unmeasured experience slip out of their hands. To them, what cannot be measured becomes secondary, threatening. They do not have to be robbed of their creativity."
austinkleon  ivanillich  deschooling  unschooling  learning  schools  society  deschoolingsociety  life  living  self-directed  self-directedlearning  schooliness  fluency  reading  howwelearn  howweteach  education  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  professionalization  ratings  rankings  grading  hierarchy  credentials  dependency  autoritarianism  freedom  autonomy  institutions  institutionalization  foreignlanguages  talking  specialization  personalgrowth  experience  experientiallearning 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Learning / Sex — Carol Black
"Many of us have difficulty explaining the concept of unschooling, life learning, or self-directed learning to those who are unfamiliar with it. In an attempt to help unschoolers communicate their way of looking at things to the wider community, we have come up with the following helpful worksheet in two parts.

PART 1

To understand how unschoolers view education, simply take these common and widely held beliefs about sex, and replace the word "sex" with the word "learning."

1. The desire for _______ is a powerful human drive which expresses itself naturally at the developmentally appropriate time. It's important that young people are able to begin _______ when they feel ready and not when someone else pressures them to begin.

2. If people feel scrutinized, measured, or assessed during _______ it can take the fun out of it pretty fast.

3. It's not good manners to compare one person's performance in _______ to another person's. Any kind of scoring system that uses letters or numbers to rate a person at _______ would be wildly inappropriate.

4. While some people don't mind being watched, reprimanded, or threatened with punishment during _______, most people’s enjoyment of _______ tends to wane under those conditions.

5. When it comes to _______, people are all different. Anyone who tries to tell you that one kind of _______ is "normal" and another kind of _______ is a "disorder" should be viewed with skepticism.

6. Having a preconceived set of objectives can tend to take the pleasure out of _______. Sometimes it’s better to just dive into _______ and see where it goes.

7. Research shows that _______ performed for rewards such as money, food treats, praise, or trips to Disneyland is not the same as _______ engaged in for its own sake.

8. The right to personal choice in matters of _______ is fundamental to human dignity and happiness.

9. Sometimes _______ that takes a long time is even better than _______ that happens really fast.

*******

PART 2:

To understand how unschoolers view current education policy, simply take the following common statements about education and replace the word "learning" with the word "sex."

1. All students must be prepared to begin _______ by the same age, which will be determined on a statewide basis by a qualified panel of experts.

2. Students should not be allowed to fall behind their peers in ________ . Those who do must be identified as early as possible so that they can receive immediate professional intervention, including medication if necessary.

3. Students must master the skills for _______ in sequence, with the basic building blocks for _______ mastered and tested before higher-order _______ can begin.

4. The normal way to begin _______ is in a classroom using textbooks and worksheets rather than through experimentation and hands-on experience.

5. _______ is better in groups of 20 or 30 than one on one.

6. _______ should be scheduled in 45 minute sessions that begin and end promptly with the ringing of a loud bell.

7. It is not permitted to use the bathroom during _______ . Texting and snacking are also strictly forbidden.

8. Students should be given a clear rubric for _______ that tells them how many points will be earned for each _______ activity, as well as the criteria for scoring. Also make it clear how many points will be taken off for sloppiness or lateness.

9. Students’ progress at _______ should be constantly evaluated on a percentile basis, with their rank among their peers posted on a bulletin board in the hallway.

10. Parents can reward excellence in _______ by proudly putting a bumper sticker on their car announcing that their child is better than other people's children at _______.

11. The U.S Department of Education, through the use of federally mandated standards, intends to ensure that in the 21st century all American students achieve minimum performance levels at _______, so that we will be able to compete with the Chinese.

Congratulations!

Now you know how to think like an unschooler!"
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howwelearn  nealmarlens  humor  sex  measurement  standardization  development  motivation  enjoyment  joy  dignity  policy  competition  ranking  rankings  howweteach  teaching 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Ranking countries by the worst students - The Hechinger Report
"But recently the OECD decided to analyze the past decade of test scores in a new way, to see which nations do the best job of educating their struggling students, and what lessons could be learned. This is important because low-performing students are more likely to drop out of school, and less likely to obtain good jobs as adults. Ultimately, they put more strains on social welfare systems and brakes on economic growth. The results were released on February 10, 2016 in an OECD report, “Low-Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How To Help Them Succeed.”

It turns out that many of the top performing nations or regions also have the smallest numbers of low-performing students. Fewer than 5 percent of 15-year-olds in Shanghai (China), Hong Kong (China), South Korea, Estonia and Vietnam scored at the lowest levels on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in math, reading and science.

In the United States, by contrast, 29 percent of students scored below a basic baseline level in at least one subject, and 12 percent students score below a basic baseline level on all three tests — math, reading and science. The latter number amounts to half a million 15-year-olds who can’t do the basics in any subject. The worst is math. More than a million U.S. 15-year-olds can’t reach the baseline here. The OECD calculated that if all American 15-year-olds reached a baseline level of performance, then the size of the U.S. economy could gain an additional $27 trillion over the working life of these students.

Of course, the United States has relatively higher poverty rates than many nations in this 64-country analysis. One might expect more low performers given that our number of disadvantaged students in public schools surpasses 50 percent. But the interesting thing is that there wasn’t as tight a connection between low performance and poverty as we might expect. Some countries contend with higher poverty levels, but do better — Vietnam, for example, where only 4 percent of students were low performers in all subjects. Meanwhile, some other countries with lower poverty rates nonetheless have a bigger problem of low performers. For example, France, Luxembourg and Sweden all had higher percentages of low-performing students than the United States did.

Poor children around the world, on average, are between four and five times more likely to become low performers in school than children who grew up in a wealthier homes among more educated parents. But in the United States, poverty seems to seal your educational fate more. A socioeconomically disadvantaged American student is six times more likely to be a low performer than his or her socioeconomically advantaged peer. Here’s a stark figure: 41 percent of disadvantaged students in the United States were low performers in mathematics in 2012, while only 9 percent of advantaged students were.

In South Korea, by contrast, only 14 percent of disadvantaged students were low performers in math. In neighboring Canada, it was only 22 percent of the poorest students who scored the worst.

The report highlighted countries that had significantly reduced their share of low performers in math between 2003 and 2012. They were Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey.

“What do these countries have in common? Not very much,” admitted Andreas Schleicher, director of the education division at the OECD. “They are about as socioeconomically and culturally diverse as can be.”

Also, each country had embarked upon different reforms to improve educational outcomes at the bottom. But Schleicher sees hope in the fact that these countries succeeded at all, proving that poverty isn’t destiny and that schools can make a difference. “All countries can improve their students’ performance, given the right policies and the will to implement them,” Schleicher said."
education  schools  rankings  2016  pisa  standardizedtesting  testing  jillbarshay  poverty  us  southkorea  estonia  vietnam  hongkong  china  shanghai  france  luxembourg  sweden  brazil  brasil  germany  italy  poland  portugal  tunisia  turkey  diversity 
february 2016 by robertogreco
What one college discovered when it stopped accepting SAT/ACT scores - The Washington Post
"Hampshire College is a liberal arts school in Massachusetts that has decided not to accept SAT/ACT scores from applicants. That’s right — the college won’t accept them, a step beyond the hundreds of “test-optional” schools that leave it up to the applicant to decide whether to include them in their applications. So what has happened as a result of the decision?

For one thing, U.S. News & World report has refused to include Hampshire in its annual rankings. For another, Hampshire officials say, this year’s freshman class, the first chosen under the new rules, is more qualified by other measures than earlier classes.

Hampshire College was founded in 1970 as an alternative private liberal arts college that experiments with curriculum and relies on portfolios of work and narrative evaluations rather than distribution requirements and grades. It is one of the top colleges in the nation in terms of the proportion of its graduates who go on to graduate school.

Here’s an explanation of what the college did regarding SAT/ACT scores and why, from President Jonathan Lash, who is also a director of the World Resources Institute, a D.C.-based environmental think tank, where he previously served as president. He chaired former President Bill Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development and was Vermont’s environmental secretary and commissioner. He holds a law degree and master’s degree in education from Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s from Harvard College.

By Jonathan Lash:

You won’t find our college in the U.S. News & Word Report “Best Colleges” rankings released this month. Last year Hampshire College decided not to accept SAT/ACT test scores from high school applicants seeking admission. That got us kicked off the rankings, disqualified us, per U.S. News rankings criteria. That’s OK with us.

We completely dropped standardized tests from our application as part of our new mission-driven admissions strategy, distinct from the “test-optional” policy that hundreds of colleges now follow. If we reduce education to the outcomes of a test, the only incentive for schools and students to innovate is in the form of improving test-taking and scores. Teaching to a test becomes stifling for teachers and students, far from the inspiring, adaptive education which most benefits students. Our greatly accelerating world needs graduates who are trained to address tough situations with innovation, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and a capacity for mobilizing collaboration and cooperation.

We weighed other factors in our decision:

• Standardized test scores do not predict a student’s success at our college.

• SATs/ACTs are strongly biased against low-income students and students of color, at a time when diversity is critical to our mission.

• We surveyed our students and learned not one of them had considered rankings when choosing to apply to colleges; instead they most cared about a college’s mission.

• Some good students are bad test takers, particularly under stress, such as when a test may grant or deny college entry. Multiple-choice tests don’t reveal much about a student.

• We’ve developed much better, fairer ways to assess students who will thrive at our college.

In our admissions, we review an applicant’s whole academic and lived experience. We consider an applicant’s ability to present themselves in essays and interviews, review their recommendations from mentors, and assess factors such as their community engagement and entrepreneurism. And yes, we look closely at high school academic records, though in an unconventional manner. We look for an overarching narrative that shows motivation, discipline, and the capacity for self-reflection. We look at grade point average (GPA) as a measure of performance over a range of courses and time, distinct from a one-test-on-one-day SAT/ACT score. A student’s consistent “A” grades may be coupled with evidence of curiosity and learning across disciplines, as well as leadership in civic or social causes. Another student may have overcome obstacles through determination, demonstrating promise of success in a demanding program. Strong high school graduates demonstrate purpose, a passion for authenticity, and commitment to positive change.

We’re seeing remarkable admissions results since disregarding standardized test scores:

• Our yield, the percentage of students who accepted our invitation to enroll, rose in a single year from 18% to 26%, an amazing turnaround.

• The quantity of applications went down, but the quality went up, likely because we made it harder to apply, asking for more essays. Our applicants collectively were more motivated, mature, disciplined and consistent in their high school years than past applicants.

• Class diversity increased to 31% students of color, the most diverse in our history, up from 21% two years ago.

• The percentage of students who are the first-generation from their family to attend college rose from 10% to 18% in this year’s class.

Our “No SAT/ACT policy” has also changed us in ways deeper than data and demographics: Not once did we sit in an Admissions committee meeting and “wish we had a test score.” Without the scores, every other detail of the student’s application became more vivid. Their academic record over four years, letters of recommendation, essays, in-person interviews, and the optional creative supplements gave us a more complete portrait than we had seen before. Applicants gave more attention to their applications, including the optional components, putting us in a much better position to predict their likelihood of success here.

This move away from test scores and disqualification from the U.S. News rankings has allowed us to innovate in ways we could not before. In other words, we are free to innovate rather than compromise our mission to satisfy rankings criteria:

• We no longer chase volumes of applications to superficially inflate our “selectivity” and game the U.S. News rankings. We no longer have to worry that any applicant will “lower our average SAT/ACT scores” and thus lower our U.S. News ranking. Instead we choose quality over quantity and focus attention and resources on each applicant and their full portfolio.

• At college fairs and information sessions, we don’t spend time answering high school families’ questions about our ranking and test score “cut-offs.” Instead we have conversations about the things that matter: What does our unique academic program look like, and what qualities does a student need to be successful at it?

• An unexpected benefit: This shift has saved us significant time and operational expense. Having a smaller but more targeted, engaged, passionate, and robust applicant pool, we are able to streamline our resources.

How can U.S. News rankings reliably measure college quality when their data-points focus primarily on the high school performance of the incoming class in such terms as GPA, SAT/ACT, class rank, and selectivity? These measures have nothing to do with the college’s results, except perhaps in the college’s aptitude for marketing and recruiting. Tests and rankings incentivize schools to conform to test performance and rankings criteria, at the expense of mission and innovation.

Our shift to a mission-driven approach to admissions is right for Hampshire College and the right thing to do. We fail students if we reduce them to a standardized test number tied more to their financial status than achievement. We fail students by perpetuating the myth that high standardized test scores signal “better” students. We are in the top one percent of colleges nationwide in the percentage of our undergraduate alumni who go on to earn advanced degrees – this on the strength of an education where we assess their capabilities narratively, and where we never, not once, subject them to a numerical or letter grade on a test or course.

At Hampshire College, we face the same financial challenges as many colleges. But these challenges provide an opportunity to think about who we are and what matters to us. We can not lose sight of our mission while seeking revenues or chasing rankings. We are committed to remaining disqualified from the U.S. News rankings. We’re done with standardized testing, the SAT, and ACT."
hampshirecollege  colleges  universities  admissions  sat  act  education  grading  teaching  rankings  diversity  jonathanlash  standardizedtesting  tests  class  race  selectivity  fit  srg  edg 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Sights Unseen: On Willful Blindness to Education’s Higher Purpose | EdConteXts
"As an educator, parent, and citizen, I fear that we as a society or even collection of societies put ourselves at risk if we fail to question and put a halt to this instrumentalist type of reasoning with regards to education. The rhetoric of brutal global competition is eroding our capacity to focus on asking what truly matters in providing our children and grandchildren with what they will need for their futures besides jobs and income. In all of our lip service to “21st Century Skills” we still pay more homage to the holy grail of what our offspring may earn rather than to how well equipped they will be to avert environmental, financial and/or social disaster by adopting and practicing those skills. We say that we want them to be critical thinkers and adept problem solvers while assuming, consciously or not, that their greatest challenge will likely be finding a job that pays well enough to free them from thousands of dollars of crushing student debt. “To get a good job” would appear to be our society’s best answer to the question “why school?” if we ever dared to pose it."



"I agree. Our schools need a higher purpose than merely feeding the global economic machine. Without questioning the prevailing ethos of competition, of celebrating winners while blaming the losers, our schools will not improve. Our schools will not become nourishing places for children until our societies decide that children are more than future members of the workforce. Our societies will not prosper unless we educate our children to understand and appreciate that nations constitute much more than their gross domestic product.

Author Peter Block captures best what I would wish for in reinventing education systems which nurture and sustain us as a society rather than squeeze us for a designated output. Speaking about the ways in which our thinking in terms of the exclusively practical and doable ( the how?) tends to hamper our willingness to engage on questions of larger purpose and general well-being, he writes:
Whatever our destination, it is letting go of the practical imperative that is most likely to guide us to a larger sense of where we want to go and what values we want to embody in getting there. What matters is the experience of being human and all that this entails. What will matter most to us, upon deeper reflection, is the quality of the experience we create in the world, not the quantity.

(bold: Block’s) Peter Block, The Answer to How is Yes. Berret-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2002, p. 37.)

As members of results-driven societies, we appreciate the certitude that quantification appears to provide. As humans, however, we search doggedly for precisely those qualities of life which defy objective measurement: meaning, belonging, purpose, autonomy, happiness, to name a few possibilities. That our education systems strive to become more human rather than less rings true both as my deepest wish and our mounting challenge."
sherrispelic  education  competition  purpose  2015  capitalism  neoliberalism  humanity  humanism  inequality  danhaesler  testing  standardizedtesting  rankings  dianeravitch  loisweiner  wendybrown  hansrollman  peterblock  deschooling  unschooling  schools 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Education Needs a Collaboration (Non-Competitive) Pact | the becoming radical
"“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” —Huxley, Aldous. The Olive Tree. 1936.

While watching a documentary on schools recently, I felt that same uncomfortable feeling I do whenever I watch or read about this or that school “excelling”—notably the principal, but teachers as well, expressing how they have something different that is driving the school’s success.

Of course that claim caries the implication that other schools, teachers, and students are not doing that something different (hint: trying hard enough, demanding enough).

In this particular documentary, that something different included publicly identifying, labeling, and displaying students by test scores.

And while I have a great deal of compassion and collegial support for educators fighting the standardized testing craze corrupting U.S. public education, I feel compelled to note that many of those same educators turn right around and practice the same sort of tyranny with students—or quickly wave the testing data flag when their school seems to look good (although these claims of “miracles” are almost always mirages).

So here is a test we should all take.

Check all that apply: As a teacher or administrator in a school, do you …

[ ] use test scores to rank, compare, motivate, and/or shame students into working “harder”?

[ ] use test scores to rank, compare, motivate, and/or shame teachers within a department, grade level, or school into working “harder”?

[ ] use test scores to brag about your department, grade level, or school to parents or the media?

If any of these are checked, you have a decision: either stop complaining about high-stakes uses of test scores or stop doing all of the above.

If test scores are a flawed way to evaluate teachers and schools, they are a flawed way to evaluate teachers, schools, and students—and even when they work in your favor.

Thus, I recommend the latter choice above because education needs a collaboration (non-competitive) pact if we are to save the soul of our profession."
plthomas  2015  collaboration  competition  education  excellence  elitism  schools  publiceducation  standardizedtesting  high-stakestesting  non-competetitive  comparison  motivation  shaming  ranking  rankings  teaching  howweteach  evaluation  assessment  aldoushuxley  paulthomas 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Our Obsession in American Education With Ranking People - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society
"ONE OF THE KEY findings of the value-added study published by Raj Chetty and his colleagues—a finding rarely mentioned in the media—was that out-of-school factors, such as family income and neighborhood poverty, currently have a far greater effect on the achievement gap than do differences in teacher quality between schools (which, the researchers reported, accounts for only seven percent of the current gap). They also acknowledged that their study, like almost every other major value-added study ever conducted, took place in a low-stakes setting—that is, teachers were not being evaluated or paid according to their students’ test scores. In a higher-stakes setting, they warned, educators might teach to the test, or even cheat, in ways that would cause test scores to lose their predictive power. Nonetheless, they were hopeful: If the top value-added teachers in the country could somehow be moved systematically to the lowest-performing schools, they theorized, perhaps three-quarters of the current test-score achievement gap could be closed. That theory is almost impossible to test, however, given the unattractive working conditions in many low-income schools. When a Department of Education/Mathematica Policy Research trial offered more than 1,000 high-value-added teachers $20,000 to transfer to a poorer school, less than a quarter chose to apply. Inconveniently, too, those who did transfer produced test-score gains among elementary school students but not among middle schoolers—a reminder that teachers who succeed in one environment will not always succeed in another.

Contemporary education researchers, among them Andrew Butler and John Hattie, have written extensively on the most academically powerful uses of testing. And when it comes to gathering information about how teachers should actually teach, Butler and Hattie’s work suggests that value-added measurement, as useful as it is in other ways, is mostly beside the point. That’s because it’s based on standardized state tests given toward the end of the school year. Spending a lot of time preparing for those tests turns out to be counter-productive for learning. Research shows that kids learn best when classroom teaching is geared not toward high-stakes year-end tests, but toward low-stakes, unit-level quizzes, created and graded by classroom teachers who use the results to refine their instruction throughout the year. The soundest use of testing, in other words, is as an instrument to figure out what children do and do not know, so that we can teach them better along the way.

Any achievement testing attached to high stakes for educators invites teaching to the test, which often narrows the curriculum in counter-productive ways. Because of that, Jonah Rockoff, who co-authored the value-added study with Raj Chetty, suggests that we need to come up with new ways to measure teachers’ influence on students, perhaps by studying how teachers affect students’ behavior, attendance, and GPA. “Test scores are limited,” Rockoff says, “not just in their power and accuracy, but in the scope of what we want teachers and schools to be teaching our kids. … There’s not just one thing we care about our kids learning. We’re going to measure how kids do on socio-cognitive outcomes, and reward teachers on that, too.”

But is it really fair to judge teachers on their students’ attendance, given the role that, say, parenting and health play? Should a teacher be punished if a boy in her homeroom gets into a fistfight during recess? These are the kinds of questions we’ll need to grapple with as we experiment with new kinds of education science. And as we do, we’ll need to keep in mind the much bigger question suggested by the history of failed American school reforms: Should we continue to devote our limited political, financial, and human resources to measuring the performance of students and teachers, or should we devote those resources to improving instruction itself?"
standardizedtesting  testing  education  policy  history  phrenology  iq  2015  danagoldstein  nclb  anationtrisk  johnfriedman  jonahrockoff  rajchetty  economics  valueadded  assessment  instruction  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  schools  rankings  measurement  sat  robertrosenthal  lenorejacobson  tedbell  georgewbush  politics  johnhattie  andrewbutler  sorting 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Standardizing Human Ability | DMLcentral
"Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s try to imagine a society (there were lots of them before modernity) where there is no interest in measuring educational success. Let’s imagine a society where the only goal of teaching (it’s a high bar) is to help every child master what they need in order to lead the most fulfilling life they are capable of leading—productive, creative, responsible, contributing to their own well-being and that of their society. No grades. No tests. Just an educational system based on helping each child to find her or his potential for leading the best (Socrates would call it “happiest”) life possible. In such a world, do learning disabilities exist?"



"Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the changes in U.S. education, from kindergarten to professional school, either invented or finalized in the Taylorist era (the same era that produced the assembly line, statistics, standard deviation, spreadsheets, blueprints, punch clocks):  mandatory public secondary schooling, research universities, majors, minors, divisions, certification, graduate school, collegiate law school, nursing school, graduate school of education, collegiate business school, degree requirements, grades, required courses, electives, distribution requirements, IQ tests, multiple choice tests, item response college entrance exams (SAT), school rankings, class rankings. And learning disabilities.

There are some great things in that list. My point in this open-ended meditation, though, is that these are invented things.  Like all inventions, they are historically situated, created for a specific time and place, to solve problems of an era and address the possibilities afforded by the society, institutions, wealth, ambitions, and technologies of that time and place.  Like statistics and the assembly line, the system of education we have inherited is not “timeless.”  It is an industrial age invention.  So is the practice of ranking students from best to worst (“one best way”), using standardized forms of testing (extending Galton’s questionnaire form to the one-best-answer or item-response test).

We invented these standardized, regulatory, categorizing, statistical, practices for determining educational success or failure for the Fordist era of the assembly line. We can invent better ones for our own era."
cathdavidson  2014  taylorism  assessment  standardization  ability  accessibilities  ableism  testing  standardizedtesting  standards  success  disability  rankings  highered  highereducation  education  learning  teaching  howweteach  schools  schooliness  schooling  certification  disabilities 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Persistence of the Old Regime
"This afternoon I ended up reading this Vox story about an effort to rank US Universities and Colleges carried out in 1911 by a man named Kendric Charles Babcock. On Twitter, Robert Kelchen remarks that the report was “squashed by Taft” (an unpleasant fate), and he links to the report itself, which is terrific. "



"University reputations are extremely sticky, the conventional wisdom goes. I was interested to see whether Babcock’s report bore that out. I grabbed the US News and World Report National University Rankings and National Liberal Arts College Rankings and made a quick pass through them, coding their 1911 Babcock Class. The question is whether Mr Babcock, should he return to us from the grave, would be satisfied with how his rankings had held up—more than a century of massive educational expansion and alleged disruption notwithstanding.

It turns out that he would be quite pleased with himself."



"As you can see, for private universities, especially, the 1911 Babcock Classification tracks prestige in 2014 very well indeed. The top fifteen or so USNWR Universities that were around in 1911 were regarded as Class 1 by Babcock. Class 2 Privates and a few Class 1 stragglers make up the next chunk of the list. The only serious outliers are the Stevens Institute of Technology and the Catholic University of America.

The situation for public universities is also interesting. The Babcock Class 1 Public Schools have not done as well as their private peers. Berkeley (or “The University of California” as was) is the highest-ranked Class I public in 2014, with UVa and Michigan close behind. Babcock sniffily rated UNC a Class II school. I have no comment about that, other than to say he was obviously right. Other great state flagships like Madison, Urbana, Washington, Ohio State, Austin, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Kansas, and Iowa are much lower-ranked today than their Class I designation by Babcock in 1911 would have led you to believe. Conversely, one or two Class 4 publics—notably Georgia Tech—are much higher ranked today than Babcock would have guessed. So rankings are sticky, but only as long as you’re not public.

I also did the same figure for Liberal Arts Colleges, almost all of which are private, so this time there’s just the one panel:"



"The UC System is an astonishing achievement, when you look at it, as it propelled five of its campuses into the upper third of the table to join Berkeley."
rankings  colleges  universities  2014  1911  uc  universityofcalifornia  ucsb  ucla  ucsd  uci  ucd  ucr  ucberkeley  riceuniversity  duke  highereducation  highered  kieranhealey  kendriccharlesbabcock  via:audrewatters  usnewsandworldreport 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Common Core Commotion
"We can assume that if Goals 2000 or NCLB or any of the other reform programs had been effective, the reformers could congratulate themselves for a job well done and go off to find another line of work. They haven’t, which brings us to the third reason that educational reform is an enterprise without end. 

It has to do with the old rule that supply creates its own demand. Over the last two generations, as the problem became unignorable and as vast freshets of money poured from governments and nonprofit foundations, an army of experts emerged to fix America’s schools. From trade unions and think tanks they came, from graduate schools of education and nonprofit foundations, from state education departments and for-profit corporations, from legislative offices and university psych labs and model schools and experimental classrooms, trailing spreadsheets and PowerPoints and grant proposals; they found work as lobbyists, statisticians, developmental psychologists, neurological researchers, education theorists, entrepreneurs, administrators, marketers, think tank fellows, textbook writers—even teachers! So great a mass of specialists cannot be kept idle. If they find themselves with nothing to do, they will find something to do. 

And so, after 40 years of signal failure, the educationists have brought us the Common Core State Standards. It is a totemic example of policy-making in the age of the well-funded expert."



"The foundation’s generosity seems indiscriminate, reflecting the milky centrism of its founder. Evidently Bill Gates doesn’t have a political bone in his body. His intellectual loyalty lies instead with the ideology of expertise. His faith is technocratic and materialist: In the end he believes the ability of highly credentialed observers to identify and solve problems through the social sciences is theoretically limitless. “Studies” and “research” unlock the human secret. This is the animating faith of most educationists, too. All human interactions can be dispassionately observed and their separate parts identified, isolated, analyzed, and quantified according to some version of the scientific method. The resulting data will yield reliable information about how and why we behave as we do, and from this process can be derived formulas that will be universally applicable and repeatable.

“One size fits all” may be a term of mockery used by people who disdain the top-down solutions of centralized power; in the technocratic vision, “one size fits all” describes the ideal.

A good illustration of the Gates technocratic approach to education reform is an initiative called “Measures of Effective Teaching” or MET. (DUH.) The effectiveness of a truly gifted teacher was once considered mysterious or ineffable, a personal transaction rooted in intuition, concern, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, and professional ardor, combined in a way that defies precise description or replication. Such an old-fashioned notion is an affront to the technocratic mind, which assumes no human phenomenon can be, at bottom, mysterious; nothing is resistant to reduction and measurement. “Eff the Ineffable” is the technocrat’s motto."



"Exciting as it undoubtedly is for the educationist, MET research tells us nothing about how to improve the world that students and teachers inhabit. It is an exercise by educationists for educationists to ponder and argue over. Three hundred and thirty five million dollars can keep a lot of them busy."



"In the confusion between content and learning, the Standards often show the telltale verbal inflation that educationists use to make a simple idea complicated. The Standards for Reading offer a typical example. They come in groups of three—making a wonderful, if suspicious, symmetry. Unfortunately, many of the triplets are essentially identical. According to the rubric Key Ideas and Details, a student should “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly.” Where one standard says the student must be able to “analyze the development of central ideas,” the next standard says the student should be able to “analyze” “how ideas develop.” One “key detail” is to “learn details.” Under Craft and Structure, the student should be able to “analyze” how “portions of text” “relate to each other or the whole.” Another says he “should cite specific textual evidence” and still another that he should “summarize the key supporting details.” All of this collapses into a single unwritten standard: “Learn to read with care and to explain what you’ve read.” But no educationist would be so simple-minded.

There are standards only an educationist could love, or understand. It took me a while to realize that “scaffolding” is an ed-school term for “help.” Associate is another recurring term of art with a flexible meaning, from spell to match, as when third graders are expected to “associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.” This seems like students are being asked to spell vowels, but that can’t be right, can it? And when state and local teachers have to embody such confusing standards in classroom exercises, you’re likely to wind up with more confusion."



"THE RISE OF THE RIGHT

Most of the criticism of the Standards has come from the populist right, and the revolt of conservative parents against the pet project of a national educationist elite is genuine, spontaneous, and probably inevitable. But if you move beyond the clouds of jargon, and the compulsory gestures toward “critical thinking” and “metacognitive skills,” you will begin to spy something more interesting. There’s much in the Standards to reassure an educational traditionalist—a vein of subversion. At several points, Common Core is clearly intended as a stay against the runaway enthusiasms of educationist dogma.

The Standards insist schools’ (unspecified) curriculums be “content-rich”—meaning that they should teach something rather than nothing. They even go so far as to require students to read Shakespeare, the Preamble and First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and works of Greek mythology. Phonics is the chief means of teaching reading in Common Core, rejecting the notorious “whole language” method first taken up in the 1970s and—research shows!—a likely culprit in the decline in reading scores. The Standards discourage the use of calculators, particularly in early grades where it has become a popular substitute for acquiring basic math. The Standards require memorization of multiplication tables as an important step in learning arithmetic, striking a blow against “fuzzy math.” Faddish notions like “visual literacy” are nowhere to be found.

Perhaps most impressively, at least in language arts, the Standards require students to read and write ever larger amounts of nonfiction as they move toward their high school diploma. Anyone familiar with the soupy “young adult” novels fed to middle- and high-school students should be delighted. Writing assignments, in tandem with more rigorous reading, move away from mere self-expression—commonly the focus of writing all the way through high school—to the accumulation of evidence and detail in the service of arguments. The architect of the Language Arts Standards, an educationist called David Coleman, explained this shift in a speech in 2011. He lamented that the most common form of writing in high school these days is “personal writing.”

It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.

Now, it is hard to imagine a more traditionalist sentiment than that. Yet conservative Common Core activists single out Coleman as a particularly sinister adversary, perhaps for his potty mouth. The populist campaign against the Standards has been scattershot: Sometimes they are criticized for being unrealistically demanding, at other times for being too soft. Even Common Core’s insistence on making the Constitution part of any sound curriculum has been attacked as insidious. Recall that students will be required to read only the Preamble and the First Amendment. That is, they will stop reading before they reach the Second Amendment and the guarantee of gun rights.

Coincidence? Many activists think not. "



"Conservative hostility to the Common Core is also entangled with hostility to President Obama and his administration. Joy Pullman, an editor and writer who is perhaps the most eloquent and responsible public critic of Common Core, wrote recently in thefederalist.com: “I wager that 90 percent of the debate over Common Core would instantly dissipate if states adopted the top-rated standards from, say, Massachusetts or Indiana and dropped the Obama administration tests.”

While the personal hostility to Obama might be overwrought, the administration’s campaign on behalf of the Standards has borne all the marks of the president’s other efforts at national persuasion."



"THUNDER ON THE LEFT

The administration’s bullying and dishonesty might be reason enough to reject the Standards. The campaign has even begun to worry its natural allies, who are losing trust in assurances that the Common Core is an advance for progressive education. Educationists on the leftward edge point to its insistence that teachers be judged on how much their students learn. This bears an unappealing resemblance to NCLB requirements, and they worry it will inject high-pressure competition into the collegial environment that most educationists prefer. Worse, it could be a Trojan horse for a reactionary agenda, a return to the long-ago era when students really had to, you know, learn stuff.

“The purpose of education,” says … [more]
education  reform  edreform  anationatrisk  nclb  georgewbush  georgehwbush  ronaldreagan  barackobama  jimmycarter  money  policy  experts  commoncore  curriclum  2014  andrewferguson  via:ayjay  1990  2000  1979  departmentofeducation  edwardkennedy  tedkennedy  goals2000  1983  gatesfoundation  billgates  arneduncan  bureaucracy  markets  aft  nonprofits  centralization  standards  schools  publicschools  us  ideology  politics  technocracy  credentialism  teaching  howweteach  measurement  rankings  testing  standardizedtesting  abstraction  nonprofit 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Wilson’s 1997 “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” (updated 2013)
[A comment in reaction to a post on Diane Ravitch's blog "The Fatal Flaw of the Common Core Standards", via Taryn who quotes Duane Swacker. Bookmark points to the comment.]

"the [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true [...] true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you"

[The full comment:]

"That educational standards, in this instance CCSS and standardized testing have “fatal flaws” has been know for quite a while. In 1997 Noel Wilson identified at least 13 epistemological and ontological “fatal flaws” that render the processes of the educational standards and standardized testing completely invalid. That this is not wider known is beyond me because it seems like common sense, but we know there isn’t much common sense in the Common Core. To understand why CCSS is such educational malarkey and, in reality educational malpractice read his “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at: http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/577/700

Brief outline of Wilson’s “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” and some comments of mine. (updated 6/24/13 per Wilson email)

1. A quality cannot be quantified. Quantity is a sub-category of quality. It is illogical to judge/assess a whole category by only a part (sub-category) of the whole. The assessment is, by definition, lacking in the sense that “assessments are always of multidimensional qualities. To quantify them as one dimensional quantities (numbers or grades) is to perpetuate a fundamental logical error” (per Wilson). The teaching and learning process falls in the logical realm of aesthetics/qualities of human interactions. In attempting to quantify educational standards and standardized testing we are lacking much information about said interactions.

2. A major epistemological mistake is that we attach, with great importance, the “score” of the student, not only onto the student but also, by extension, the teacher, school and district. Any description of a testing event is only a description of an interaction, that of the student and the testing device at a given time and place. The only correct logical thing that we can attempt to do is to describe that interaction (how accurately or not is a whole other story). That description cannot, by logical thought, be “assigned/attached” to the student as it cannot be a description of the student but the interaction. And this error is probably one of the most egregious “errors” that occur with standardized testing (and even the “grading” of students by a teacher).

3. Wilson identifies four “frames of reference” each with distinct assumptions (epistemological basis) about the assessment process from which the “assessor” views the interactions of the teaching and learning process: the Judge (think college professor who “knows” the students capabilities and grades them accordingly), the General Frame-think standardized testing that claims to have a “scientific” basis, the Specific Frame-think of learning by objective like computer based learning, getting a correct answer before moving on to the next screen, and the Responsive Frame-think of an apprenticeship in a trade or a medical residency program where the learner interacts with the “teacher” with constant feedback. Each category has its own sources of error and more error in the process is caused when the assessor confuses and conflates the categories.

4. Wilson elucidates the notion of “error”: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”

In other word all the logical errors involved in the process render any conclusions invalid.

5. The test makers/psychometricians, through all sorts of mathematical machinations attempt to “prove” that these tests (based on standards) are valid-errorless or supposedly at least with minimal error [they aren't]. Wilson turns the concept of validity on its head and focuses on just how invalid the machinations and the test and results are. He is an advocate for the test taker not the test maker. In doing so he identifies thirteen sources of “error”, any one of which renders the test making/giving/disseminating of results invalid. As a basic logical premise is that once something is shown to be invalid it is just that, invalid, and no amount of “fudging” by the psychometricians/test makers can alleviate that invalidity.

6. Having shown the invalidity, and therefore the unreliability, of the whole process Wilson concludes, rightly so, that any result/information gleaned from the process is “vain and illusory”. In other words start with an invalidity, end with an invalidity (except by sheer chance every once in a while, like a blind and anosmic squirrel who finds the occasional acorn, a result may be “true”) or to put in more mundane terms crap in-crap out.

7. And so what does this all mean? I’ll let Wilson have the second to last word: “So what does a test measure in our world? It measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. And the person who sets the test will name the test what the person who pays for the test wants the test to be named.”

In other words it measures “’something’ and we can specify some of the ‘errors’ in that ‘something’ but still don’t know [precisely] what the ‘something’ is.” The whole process harms many students as the social rewards for some are not available to others who “don’t make the grade (sic)” Should American public education have the function of sorting and separating students so that some may receive greater benefits than others, especially considering that the sorting and separating devices, educational standards and standardized testing, are so flawed not only in concept but in execution?

My answer is NO!!!!!

One final note with Wilson channeling Foucault and his concept of subjectivization:

“So the mark [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true; true because the society in which you live legitimates this authority; true because your cultural habitus makes it difficult for you to perceive, conceive and integrate those aspects of your experience that contradict the story; true because in acting out your story, which now includes the mark and its meaning, the social truth that created it is confirmed; true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you; true because if your mark is low your voice becomes muted and confirms your lower position in the social hierarchy; true finally because that success or failure confirms that mark that implicitly predicted the now self-evident consequences. And so the circle is complete.”

In other words students “internalize” what those “marks” (grades/test scores) mean, and since the vast majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m an “A” student” is almost as harmful as “I’m an ‘F’ student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of society."
assessment  learning  tests  testing  authority  dianravitch  duaneswacker  measurement  1997  noelwilson  commoncore  stadards  standardization  error  epistemology  grades  grading  ranking  rankings  standardizedtests  dtandardizedtesting  hierarchy  hierarchies  via:Taryn  power  tcsnmy  criticalthinking  freedom  democracy  sorting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
How to Choose a College - NYTimes.com
"I use the word “claim” deliberately and urge skepticism with rankings."

"SO dig as deeply as you can into what the statistics that colleges showcase do and don’t assure. And treat your undergraduate education as a rare license, before you’re confined by the burdens of full-fledged adulthood and before the costs of experimentation rise, to be tugged outside your comfort zone. To be yanked, preferably."

" The world is in constant flux, life is a sequence of surprises, and I can think of no better talents to pick up in college than fearlessness, nimbleness and the ability to roll with change, adapt to newness and improvise."
2013  education  frankbruni  learning  comfortzone  challenge  diversity  colleges  universities  admissions  advice  rankings  undergraduate  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
The Corporatization of Higher Education | Dissent Magazine
"If corporatization meant only that colleges & universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on, one that has saddled us with a higher-education model that is both expensive to run & difficult to reform as a result of its focus on status, its view of students as customers, & its growing reliance on top-down administration."

"At elite schools, 74 percent of the student body come from the top quarter of the socioeconomic scale, while just 3 percent come from the bottom quarter."

"The professor who takes time out from teaching & research to devote him- or herself to administration for a few years increasingly is an anachronism. A new, permanent administrative class now dominates higher education."

"In the last forty years…[faculty grew by] 50 percent…number of administrators has risen by 85 percent and the number of staffers required to help the administrators has jumped by a whopping 240 percent."
administrativebloat  administration  bloat  middlemanagement  tuition  admissions  top-down  hierarchy  corporatization  competition  2012  nicolausmills  usnewsandworldreport  us  priorities  rankings  wealth  finance  money  highereducation  highered  education  via:sebastienmarion  corporatism  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Now You See It // The Blog of Author Cathy N. Davidson » New post on DMLcentral: Standardizing Human Ability
"Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the changes in U.S. education, from kindergarten to professional school, either invented or finalized in the Taylorist era (the same era that produced the assembly line, statistics, standard deviation, spreadsheets, blueprints, punch clocks): mandatory public secondary schooling, research universities, majors, minors, divisions, certification, graduate school, collegiate law school, nursing school, graduate school of education, collegiate business school, degree requirements, grades, required courses, electives, distribution requirements, IQ tests, multiple choice tests, item response college entrance exams (SAT), school rankings, class rankings. And learning disabilities.

… these are invented things. … Like statistics and the assembly line, the system of education we have inherited is not “timeless.” It is an industrial age invention."
compulsory  certification  curriculum  assessment  rankings  grading  ranking  iqtests  sat  specialization  departmentalization  learningdisabilities  inventions  invention  learning  tcsnmy  lcproject  context  deschooling  unschooling  standardization  taylorism  2012  cathydavidson  history  education  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Michelle Rhee Is Shameless « Diane Ravitch's blog
"I have resisted watching the ad that Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst created and played on NBC. [link (also contained within: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2012/07/rhee_ad.html ]

A reader sent it to me, and I relented.

It is disgusting.

It is a lie.

It smears America.

It smears our teachers and our students.

It makes fun of obesity.

A few facts:

1) the US was never first on international tests. When the first test was given in 1964 (a test of math), our students came in 11th out of 12.

2) On the latest international tests, students in American schools with low poverty (10% or less) came in FIRST in the world

3) As poverty goes up in American schools, test scores go down.

4) The U.S. has the highest child poverty rate–23%– of any advanced nation in the world.

Michelle Rhee says nothing about poverty, which is the most direct correlate of low test scores.

She is shameless."
testscores  pisa  rankings  michellerhee  comparison  policy  dianeravitch  2012  education  us  poverty  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
Global Gender Gap | World Economic Forum-Global Gender Gap
"The Global Gender Gap Report’s index assesses 134 countries on how well they divide resources and opportunities amongst male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources. The report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:

1) Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment

2) Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education

3) Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio

4) Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures"
gender  women  gendergap  classideas  rankings  comparison  international  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: If school isn't for collaborating, why does anyone come?
"So here is what your classroom, and your school, needs to offer kids:

1. A learning environment in which students make most decisions. Where will I work? What devices will I use? How will I use my time? How will I get help? How will I work with others? How will I be comfortable?…

2. A time environment in which students learn and work along a schedule which makes sense to them…

3. A technological environment which supports collaboration across every barrier…

4. A social environment where adults do not rank students according to their oppressive standards."
collaboration  irasocol  pedagogy  learning  schools  unschooling  deschooling  education  grades  grading  technology  lcproject  tcsnmy  environment  time  schedules  structure  rankings  schooldesign  2011  choice  self-directedlearning  student-led  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Teachers Without Students | First Things
"Here’s an arresting statistic that economist Richard Vedder thinks goes a long way to explaining the rapid rise in college tuitions: 80% of faculty at the University of Texas, Austin teach fewer than half the students. In view of the fact that faculty salaries make up the largest expense at the university, one simple change would reduce tuition. Get the 80% back into the classrooms.<br />
<br />
Vedder anticipates the objection that forcing the bulk of professors into the classroom will harm the research mission of the university. His most devastating response is again a simple statistic—20% of faculty account for 99.8% of external research grants and funding. That leaves 60% of faculty who have very low teaching loads whose research—or in many cases lack of research—is financed by the general operating budget of UT. His proposal: have them teach two classes each semester, adds up to 200 hours per year in the classroom. As they say in Texas, that ain’t too bad for a payin’ job."
education  teaching  politics  economics  universities  highereducation  highered  academia  higheredbubble  faculty  via:lukeneff  2011  utaustin  tuition  rankings  usnewsandworldreport  reputation  quality  teachingfaculty  yaledisease  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
FT.com / House & Home - Liveable v lovable
"“These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don’t know everyone and you don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd."

"What makes a city great: *Blend of beauty and ugliness – beauty to lift the soul, ugliness to ensure there are parts of the fabric of the city that can accommodate change…*Diversity…*Tolerance…*Density…*Social mix – the close proximity of social and economic classes keeps a city lively…*Civility…"
cities  rankings  vancouver  nyc  losangeles  london  joelkotkin  rickyburdett  joelgarreau  tylerbrule  edwinheathcote  2011  livability  diversity  density  tolerance  society  vitality  social  economics  civility  beauty  ugliness  janejacobs  crosspollination  opportunity  dynamism  conflict  classideas  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
three cups of fiction | Schooling the World
[broken link, new bookmark here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:cca28f5634e5
article now at: http://carolblack.org/three-cups-of-fiction ]

"…anything that causes humiliation & anger in men is going to cause increased rates of violence against women…the way education is currently framed means it does good for some children at the cost of doing great harm to many others, & this is not good for families, for communities, or for societies.  The answer is not to hold girls back…it’s to challenge the ranking-&-failure paradigm as the only way to help children learn."

"The bottom line is that the modern school is no silver bullet, but an extremely problematic institution which has proven highly resistant to fundamental reform, and there is very little objective research on its impact on traditional societies. When we intervene to radically alter the way another culture raises and educates its children, we trigger a complex cascade of changes that will completely reshape that culture in a single generation.  To assume that those changes will all be good is to adopt a blind cultural superiority that we can ill afford."
threecupsoftea  gregmortenson  afghanistan  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  nomads  ngo  development  culturalsuperiority  culture  reform  teaching  systems  systemsthinking  2011  inequality  power  charity  economics  designimperialism  humanitariandesign  humanitarianism  stonesintoschools  money  failure  rankings  sorting  testing  children  women  girls  society  competition  hierarchy  class  onesizefitsall  grading  poverty  gender  colonization  carolblack  colonialism  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
World University Rankings: A reality based on a fraud « Tony Bates
"I am still seething with outrage at the methodology used by the THES World University Rankings.<br />
<br />
Under a headline ‘University rankings key tool in recruiting foreign students’, in today’s Globe and Mail newspaper, Stephen Toope, the President of the University of British Columbia is reported as saying ‘These rankings are looked at by students and parents as part of their decision-making process.’<br />
<br />
Well, if they are, they are being fooled. These university rankings are the equivalent of a Ponzi scheme. Let’s take a close look at the methodology."
rankings  colleges  universities  economics  ponzischemes  via:thelibrarianedge  money  highered  methodology  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Environmental Performance Index 2010: Home
"The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals."
climate  climatechange  conservation  sustainability  pollution  environment  data  performance  measurement  maps  statistics  research  countries  graphics  rankings 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer
"Noam Scheiber: "The business schools had their own incentives to channel students into high-paying fields like finance, thanks to the rising importance of school rankings, which heavily weighted starting salaries." This, eventually, created a glut of overcompensated financiers who have led the drive to apply equally bogus and thoughtless rankings upon primary and secondary schools, which themselves trigger further sequences of unintended consequences nobody can predict control, or even discern."
tomhoffman  rankings  businessschool  education  schools  trickledownpolicy  policy  noamscheiber 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Education Conservancy
"The Education Conservancy helps students, colleges and high schools overcome commercial interference in college admissions. By affirming educational values, EC works to reestablish educational authority, equity and access as college admission precepts. It unites educational principles with admission practices. It returns control of college admissions to those who are directly involved in education: students, colleges, parents and high schools. It calms the frenzy and hype that plague contemporary college admissions...The benefits and predictors of good education are knowable yet practically impossible to measure. * Rankings oversimplify and mislead. * The student's skills and attitude contribute more significantly to quality education than does the college the student attends. * Educational values are best served by admission practices that are consistent with these values..."
education  nonprofit  highschool  stress  admissions  highereducation  rankings  sat  schools  deschooling  unschooling  alternative  tcsnmy  lcproject  nonprofits 
december 2009 by robertogreco
News: Catching Up to Canada - Inside Higher Ed
"So what might the United States do to catch up to Canada? Or, as Parkin put it, "We're giving you our pointers so that you can help President Obama meet his goal."
canada  us  education  highereducation  international  competition  enrollment  retention  accessibility  rankings  communitycolleges  oecd  income  competitiveness  graduationrates 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Smarter Cities
'When thinking about the urban environment, more often than not problems come first to mind. Less commonly thought about is the potential presented by cities, potential to rethink and reshape their environments responsibly. Today urban leaders—mayors, businesses and community organizations—are in the environmental vanguard, making upgrades to transportation infrastructure, zoning, building codes, and waste management programs as well as improving access to open space, green jobs, affordable efficient housing and more. If they succeed in making their cities more efficient, responsible and sustainable, what will result will be smarter places for business and healthier places to live. Smarter Cities, a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit, is a multimedia web initiative whose mission is to foster a little friendly competition as well as provide a forum for exploring the progress American cities are making in environmental stewardship & sustainable growth."
transportation  urbanism  green  environment  sustainability  cities  urban  rankings  sandiego  portland  oregon  losangeles  seattle  design  planning  resources  stewardship 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The College Sustainability Report Card
"GreenReportCard.org is the first interactive website to provide in-depth sustainability profiles for hundreds of colleges in all 50 U.S. states and in Canada. Information is based on extensive research conducted for the College Sustainability Report Card."
colleges  universities  green  sustainability  rankings  ecology  environment  education  footprint  carbon  academia 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Unigo
"Unigo is the world’s largest platform for college students to share reviews, photos, videos, documents, and more with students on their campus and across the country. It’s also the best place for high school students to find out what life is really like at America’s colleges, and to make friends to help them find the school that’s right for them. Unigo is the result of a nationwide grassroots movement to get the truth out about college life, and it’s growing bigger every day. Want to join?"

[via: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/magazine/21unigo-t.html?pagewanted=all ]
crowdsourcing  colleges  universities  reviews  students  admissions  reference  rankings 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Radar Online : Presenting Part 1 of our annual semiscientific guide to the worst colleges in America
Worst College: University of Bridgeport; Most Degenerate Student Body: SDSU (runner-up: Chico State); Most SuperficialL USC (runner-up: Univerity of Miami); Ugliest Campus: Drexel University (runner-up: Harvey Mudd); Biggest Rip-Off: Hampshire College (runner-up: Bennington College); Most Dubious Degree: Trump University (runner-up: Hamburger University); Most Intolerant: University of Mississippi (runner-up: Brigham Young)
humor  colleges  universities  rankings  education  benningtoncollege  hampshirecollege 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Online University Reviews: Top 12 Criticisms of The US News College Ranking Formula
"Flawed Methodology, Pedigree Wins Over Value, "One Size Fits All", Not Thorough, Data Incorrect...Colleges Manipulate System/Punished for Not Participating/Feel Pressured, Unqualified Judges, Rankings Change Erratically, Only for "Traditional" Students"
colleges  rankings  universities  usnewsandworldreport  criticism  ratings  education 
july 2008 by robertogreco
America's 50 Greenest Cities | Popular Science
"Want to see a model for successful and rapid environmental action? Don't look to the federal government—check out your own town. Here, our list of the 50 communities that are leading the way. Does yours make the cut?"
cities  us  green  rankings  environment  statistics  sustainability 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Read what matters - AideRSS
"AideRSS is an intelligent assistant that saves time and keeps you on top of the latest news. We research every story and filter out the noise, allowing you to focus on what matters most."
rss  feeds  filtering  aggregator  algorithms  attention  productivity  rankings  ratings  popularity 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Design Observer: Steven Kroeter: Design Thinking, Muddled Thinking
"The joke among my colleagues was that the higher the level of management you were presenting to, the more certain you were of getting caught in a feedback onslaught of muddled thinking."
work  hierarchy  autonomy  schools  education  business  design  colleges  universities  rankings  creativity  innovation  thinking  criticalthinking  academia 
december 2007 by robertogreco
Voluntary System of Accountability
"The Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) communicates information on the undergraduate student experience through a common web reporting template, the College Portrait."
accountability  colleges  universities  rankings  outcomes  assessment 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Munich emerges as Monocle's most liveable city - International Herald Tribune
"After much tire-kicking, data-sifting and deliberation, Munich emerged as Monocle's most liveable city in the world. A winning combination of investment in infrastructure, high-quality housing, low crime, liberal politics, strong media and general feelin
cities  travel  living  life  urban  rankings  monocle  livibility  transportation  housing 
november 2007 by robertogreco
TitleZ: Book trends for publishers
"makes it easy to see how a book or group of books has performed over time, relative to other books on the market. Simply enter a search phrase, book title, or author, and TitleZ returns a comprehensive listing of books from Amazon along with our historic
amazon  analysis  books  tracking  performance  sales  rankings  trends  reputation  publishers  statistics  data 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Tyler Brûlé : The best and worst in meeting venues - International Herald Tribune
"my ranking of the world's most and least hospitable places to conduct business meetings. The following criteria were gathered over the course of the past two months while on assignments in Asia, Europe and North America:"
meetings  culture  global  courtesy  mobile  phones  meatspace  world  international  tylerbrule  germany  us  sweden  japan  italy  dumponus  business  etiquette  collaboration  rankings 
october 2007 by robertogreco
A better way to rank America's colleges | csmonitor.com
"an easy-to-use program to allow prospective students and their parents to essentially build their own rankings. They could decide which variables they value and how much, by assigning their own weights to the criteria they care about."
colleges  universities  rankings  information  comsumers  data  reform  change  education 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: The best sentence I read today
"My university does a good job teaching future professors (5% or less of undergraduates) not a good job teaching everyone else."
education  colleges  universities  learning  academia  rankings  grading  testing  grades 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Seth’s blog » Blog Archive » Can Dish It Out But Can’t Take It
"contradiction between how college presidents think students should be judged (it is fine to judge all students according to one standard that usually has little to do with their strengths and goals) and how they wish their colleges to be judged."
colleges  universities  education  evaluation  testing  admissions  rankings  schools  learning 
june 2007 by robertogreco
The Guy Who Picks the Best Places to Live - New York Times
"The crux of his work is researching and ranking metropolitan statistical areas, and the first edition of “Cities Ranked & Rated,” written with Mr. Sander, was published in 2004."
cities  us  life  lifestyle  rankings  geography  demographics  statistics  health  crime  work  data  census 
may 2007 by robertogreco

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