Sunday, September 13, 2009

Editorial 180

Today's editorial in the Courier Times very appropriately questions the flaws in PSSA's and NCLB standards. Here are a few poignant quotes . . .

"Failed grading system"
"PSSA seeks unrealistic student performance and produces a distorted picture of how schools are doing."
"What the numbers don't show is that the methodology for determining the progress rates is flawed."
"In our view, the state Department of Education needs to re-evaluate its one-size-fits-all approach because it doesn't provide an accurate overall assessment of our schools' proficiency."

My only problem with this editorial is where was it this time last year? For those with short memories, the Courier went out of its way last year to call out Neshaminy for not achieving AYP and said that many local districts were flawed in their thinking for not tracking graduation rates against AYP proficiency. Area superintendents argued that the shortcomings in PSSA and NCLB measurements render it a fairly ineffective tool for assessing student learning, but the Courier's editorial staff felt much differently. In their 8/19/2008 editorial entitled Empty Diplomas the Courier countered one superintendent's opinion that the assessments don't paint an accurate picture of students' abilities by saying "Really? Seems to us that kids who don't pass the assessment tests haven't learned the least they need to know to function effectively in the real world."

In an effort to bring a little perspective to the situation, fellow school board member Bill Spitz set the record straight in his 9/1/2008 letter to the editor, pointing out that the Courier's stance "reflected a deep misunderstanding of the meaning of the districtwide AYP designations."

Maybe this is just sour grapes on my part, but I still vividly recall the frustration we experienced in trying to point out errors in the Courier's reporting last year. And even when we were able to prove their inaccuracies, the Courier refused to print a retraction or clarification. I haven't thought about this for quite a long time, but reading this morning's editorial brought back a lot of last year's bad memories. I guess now it's time to close the book on this and move on.


KClarinet said...

I'd be really interested to know who actually wrote the editorial - it's an absolute cinch he or she didn't get the background for the viewpoint expressed in the column from anyone in education - not because educators on the whole would disagree, but because when educators have made these same points over the years since NCLB was enacted, everyone else tended to dismiss their concerns as self-serving, the outcome of lazy teachers and apologist administrators.

Now, I wonder what else educators might say about other school concerns that might actually have some merit? Who knows - they might be right about other things as well (especially if asked for their input).

Or, maybe this editorial writer has simply joined the apologists for lazy school workers and wasteful spending and last year's orthodoxy was right after all.

And in 2014, when no school can meet 100% PSSA proficiency without changing the rules, where will this debate have gotten us?

CAROLR said...

When I read this morning's editorial I was amazed at the "Editorial 180." I too was extremely upset about last year's editorial, I felt Guy Petrozillo (the writer of today's and last year's commemts) was way off base. I decided to call the man and have a conversation. Well the conversation was all one sided because as soon as he listened to me for about a minute the yelling began. Needless to say the call did not go well as I could not have a dialogue with him, not when he was so rude. Finally I could not take it anymore and hung up on him. So when I read your blog and realized that you couldn't even get the Courier to print a retraction I wasn't surprised at all. I really should cancel my subscription!