USA 2020 Elections: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at
Wed Aug 11 04:02:56 PDT 2021

> More woke fail...

Oregon Suspends Need For High School Graduates To Be Proficient In
Reading, Writing, & Math

I was once told by a pilot that jet bridges are the most dangerous
places in aviation because “no one dies on the plane.” When someone
has a fatal episode on a plane, the preference is to move the person
outside to “call the code” on the bridge rather than require the plane
to be held or quarantined due to the death. If you just move them
outside, they died somewhere else. The result is that it can be
challenging to determine how many people actually die on airplanes.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown quietly signed a bill on July 14 that suspends
a requirement for Oregon students to demonstrate reading, writing and
math proficiency in order to receive a diploma.

That story came to mind this week as more schools moved to end
standardized testing — a move that can guarantee no one fails in their
schools. In this case, students who lack proficiency in basic subjects
are being sent out into society or even college to fail somewhere
else. Anywhere other than the school.

Many of us have long objected to the chronic failure of public schools
in major cities like New York, Detroit, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore
to achieve bare proficiency for many students in reading, writing, and
math. The response in many districts is for some to declare
standardized testing or meritocracy as racist while other district
eliminate special programs or schools for gifted students. Oregon has
found a simpler approach. Gov. Kate Brown (D) just signed a bill last
month that drops any proficiency requirement in reading, writing or
math, before graduation. Problem solved.

The short bill includes this provision:

    “SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any rules adopted by the State Board
of Education, a student may not be required to show proficiency in
Essential Learning Skills as a condition of receiving a high school
diploma during the 2021-2022, 2022-2023 or 2023-2024 school year.”

The pandemic was the basis for initial suspension of such requirements
but now it is being extended. The call for a more “inclusive and
equitable review of graduation and proficiency requirements” was
supported by Foundations for a Better Oregon to change requirement to
“reflect what every student needs to thrive in the 21st century.” That
appears not to include proven proficiency in being able to write,
read, or do simple math. The supporters insist that it is unfair to
require students to show knowledge on tests.

Charles Boyle, the deputy communications director from Gov. Brown’s
office, is quoted as saying that the new standards for graduation will
help benefit the state’s “Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian,
Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

The “benefit” however is more to the school district in getting kids
out the door with a diploma without shouldering the burden to get them
to a point of bare proficiency. Teachers like Larry Lewin testified in
support of the change:

    “The students I tutored at North Eugene High School were largely
Latinx kids, and to a one, they were resigned, fatalistic, and lacking
any hope for graduating with their classmates. They knew the score –
they knew they were losers in the system. No amount of coaching,
cajoling, mentoring from me would inspire them to want to write
better. The Essential Skills Requirement had already sunk them. I was
not teaching how to write, how to communicate, how to use language for
a purpose; I was test prepping them – again.”

There is value to what Lewin says about “teaching to the test” and the
need to focus on substantive learning. I respect him for his
continuing commitment to his students and his sincere opposition to
testing. However, it is chilling to see a former public school teacher
say that “no amount of coaching, cajoling, mentoring from me would
inspire [Hispanic kids] to want to write better.” That is the point of
education. We have to get kids to reach a level of bare proficiency
and establish that ability with an objective test. If you have
proficiency in writing or reading, you should be able to write or read
on a standardized test.

The move in Oregon is part of a larger effort to eliminate
standardized testing and scores on every level of our educational
system. If there are no such standardized scores, there is no ability
to easily compare the achievement of schools or even the achievement
of students applying for admission. Recently, the University of
California system joined the “test-blind” movement and said it would
end the use of the SAT and ACT in its admissions decisions. The move
followed a decision of California voters not to lift the long ban on
affirmative action in education under state law.  Many have decried
standardized testing as vehicles for white supremacy.

The elimination of standardized testing means that it would be much
more difficult to prove that the universities were still engaging in
racial discrimination or preferences. With no testing scores for
comparison, it would be nearly impossible to show that race was the
major or dominant factor in admissions.

University of California President Janet Napolitano sought to
eliminate standardized testing by assembling the Standardized Testing
Task Force in 2019. Many people expected the task force to recommend
the cessation of standardized testing. However, the Task Force
surprised many (most notably Napolitano herself) by releasing a final
report that concluded that standardized testing was not just reliable
by that “at UC, test scores are currently better predictors of
first-year GPA than high school grade point average (HSGPA), and about
as good at predicting first-year retention, [University] GPA, and
graduation.” It even found that “test scores are predictive for all
demographic groups and disciplines … In fact, test scores are better
predictors of success for students who are Underrepresented Minority
Students (URMs), who are first generation, or whose families are

Despite those conclusions, Napolitano simply announced a cessation of
the use of such scores in admissions.

With states like Oregon now eliminating the need to establish
proficiency on basic subjects with standardized tests, American
education faces the perfect storm. Despite record expenditures on
public schools, we are still failing students, particularly minority
students, in teaching the basis subjects needed to succeed in life. We
will then graduate the students by removing testing barriers for
graduation. Then some may go to colleges and universities that have
eliminated standardized testing for admission. At every stage in their
education, they have been pushed through by educators without
objective proof that they are minimally educated. That certainly
guarantees high graduation rates or improved diversity admissions.
However, these students are still left at a sub-proficient state as
they enter an increasingly competitive job market and economy. Any
failures will come down the road when they will be asked to write,
read, or add by someone who is looking for actual work product. They
will then be outside of the educational system and any failures will
not be attributed to public educators.

If we truly care for these students, we cannot rig the system to just
kick them down the road toward failure. It is like declaring patients
healthy by just looking at them and sending them on their way. We have
the ability to measure proficiency and we have the moral obligation to
face our own failures in helping these kids achieve it.

    Their goal is to credential, not educate. And they want to
credential by identity, not ability. Merit-based metrics made that
difficult (just look at all the lawsuits showing discrimination by
universities against Asian students), so all those merit-based metrics
have to go.
    — Sean Davis (@seanmdav) August 10, 2021

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