2005 July 11 Monday
Kids Transferred To Better School Score No Better In Florida

When students in Broward County Florida were transferred to schools where children score higher the transferred kids did no better as a result of the transfer.

Broward County students who transferred out of low-performing schools last year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act didn't gain a significant academic boost by changing classrooms and teachers, according to a report released by the school district on Thursday.

The analysis of 842 transfer students shows they did no better on state tests than their peers who decided to remain at their old campuses.

It's the first study to evaluate President Bush's signature education reform program, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Is anyone surprised by this? Schools where kids do better are scores where there are smarter kids. Transferring dumber children to schools full of smarter children isn't going to cause intelligence to just rub off on the dumber kids when they are playing with the smarter kids on the playground.

The transferred kids were disciplined more often in their new schools.

There was a difference, however, in discipline problems. The researchers found that transferred students were more likely to be sent to the principal's office or sent home as punishment.

I can think of a couple of potential explanations for this result. One is that the kids transferred from schools that have unruly atmospheres. The teachers and principals in those schools have given up trying to discipline for any but the most flagrant misbehaviors. Then the kids get transferred to schools which are more orderly and calm and suddenly the same behaviors cause a kid to be sent to the principal's office.

Another possibility is that the dumber transfer students are getting placed in classes with smarter students who get taught materials that is over the heads of the dumber students. So the dumber students, bored, resentful, and frustrated, act out and start pounding on the kids sitting next to them.

If the transferred kids were given IQ tests and the kids in the schools they were transferred to were also IQ tested my guess is that the bulk of the difference in their performance at learning material would be explained by innate differences in cognitive ability.

As long as the official ideology of America's ruling class is that America is Lake Woebegon where all children are above average the utter stupidity of No Child Left Behind will continue. Schools that have special classes for brighter students will continue to be pressured to cut back on curricula aimed at the brighties. Leftie ideologues in universities will continue to look for ways to ignore the fact that some people are smarter than others by, for example, withdrawing from the National Merit Scholarship program.

The UC says the selection process for the scholarships is flawed, as 97 percent of applicants are wiped out of contention solely because they do not score high enough on the test. Out of 1.3 million test takers, only 16,000 advance with eligibility for a National Merit Scholarship, and only a little over half of those students will actually receive a scholarship, according to a briefing from the UC in conjunction with the academic council's resolution on the issue.

The unempirical believers in the secular religious faith of equality just refuse to accept that some 3% segment of the population is smarter than the other 97%. This is not written in the Gospel they were taught to believe. It is an especially offensive and heretical notion because that top 3% does not have the same racial distribution as the bottom 97%. By banning the National Merit Scholarship program from their campuses they are publically demonstrating their allegiance to the one true secular faith. George W. Bush should be touched by this faith-based initiative. Our secular educational institutions are dedicated to building a faith-based society and they have found ways to do this without falling afoul of the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state..

Update: California Lieutenant Governor and Hispanic Cruz Bustamante opposes the use of a test on which Hispanics score lower on average.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who is also a member of the UC Board of Regents, recently sent a letter out to the UC campuses that still participate in the National Merit program, urging the chancellors to “abolish the practice of awarding merit scholarships solely on the basis of PSAT scores.”

Bustamante predictably will oppose anything merit-based because his group doesn't do as well on merit.

Update II: Minor quibble: the PSAT might select down to only 1% in the first pass of the National Merit program.

UC critics of the National Merit program fault its reliance on the PSAT, a 2-hour and 10-minute practice SAT taken by 1.3 million high school juniors yearly. The PSAT serves as the initial screening test for the National Merit program and is used to eliminate nearly 99% of the candidates and reduce the group to 16,000 semifinalists.

That's even more selective and therefore an even greater sin against secular religious orthodoxy.

Update III: The results above are not an argument for vouchers. The parents who pay high housing prices to live in upper class neighborhoods are doing so in part to send junior to schools where no misbehaving lower class kids will disrupt classes. This is why the vouchers movement has failed repeatedly. It threatens to allow any kid to get into schools which are now the almost exclusive preserves of the children of the cognitively more able.

In fact, a major reason why smaller class sizes helps is it reduces the number of disruptive kids per class. If all the kids are quiet and calm then class sizes can be larger with little decrease in learning quality. Efforts to mix kids together via forced busing, vouchers, and the misguided NCLB folly harm the educations of the better behaved kids. Putting together kids of drastically different levels of cognitive ability in the same classroom increases disruption and tends to force teachers to slow down the rate of instruction to cater to the cognitively less able. Voucher proposals inevitably require schools to accept voucher applicants in order of application without any ability of schools to screen out less desirable students. So vouchers are going to be bitterly opposed by the middle and upper classes and with good reason.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 11 12:51 PM  Education

John S Bolton said at July 11, 2005 3:43 PM:

When you have a problem of low quality of population, you try to contain, not to spread it. The administration is thus shown to be an enemy of civilization. The furtherance of civilization requires that some be allowed to forge ahead of the lowest, not 'NCLB'. Bush says that civilization means that the strong have a duty towards the weak, and an enforceable one. This means freedom for official aggression to destroy civilization; and freedom for ordinary aggressors to not get left behind when they could be using aggression to attack those who can give us progress, as in technology, and culture generally. Civilization really means freddom from such aggression. That children are especially targeted for such aggression demonstrates the bestial malice of the officials who are enthusiastic for its increase. An antimerit society is not a moral one; it will have no community of values, and can only tear itself to pieces. This must be the goal of our officials, who dare to advertise their hatred against human merit.

Mark said at July 11, 2005 3:50 PM:

This test is flawed. The awards should be given to those students who demonstrate the greatest knowledge of Memin Pinguin.

John S Bolton said at July 11, 2005 9:00 PM:

The enemy of objective standards has no rational arguments available, but clowning or offering himself as an object for derision, is still possible. The government schools need to be privatized before their anticulture does damage from which, no recovery is likely. If the people would threaten their rulers with this privatization, than which there can be none more dreaded by such anticulturalists in power, the officials and their professoriate would bow down before them in perfectly servile manner, and do their bidding.

Kenelm Digby said at July 12, 2005 4:03 AM:

Great Britain actually pioneered this approach to education, called the "comprehensive" system in Britain, where all placement of pupils by ability is regarded with distaste.
Previously, Britain had a system designed by Cyril Burt that was highly selective and based on a very g-loaded test taken at age 11, that differentiated pupils destined for further education, and those more suited to manual based employment at age 15+
The left destroyed it for purely political reasons.The result is now that Britain has a terribly fractured and dysfunctional education system that has one salient feature: Those rich enough to pay for private education, generally massively outscore the products of state education at 18+, getting the places at the best universities and dominating the professions.Thus the hard left have perpetuated a system that ensures that class privelege is maintained through generations.

Kurt said at July 12, 2005 9:04 AM:

Need I say it? Reason #534 to support vouchers or some other form of school choice.

The idiocy just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

You guys should check out what Fred Reed has to say about our public school system. His website is www.fredoneverything.net. Go to the "Fred Columns".

ed said at July 12, 2005 9:42 AM:

Maybe the report found "no significant improvement" just because the improvement was small (so far) and the sample wasn't large enough to reject the null hypothesis. I haven't seen the report (have you?) but I don't think we can conclude that there was no improvement.

Randall Parker said at July 12, 2005 9:55 AM:


See my third update to this post. No, this result is not an argument for vouchers.

gcochran said at July 12, 2005 10:02 AM:

Fred's wrong. You evaluate a school by its results, taking into account the material they have to work with: if you do that, they're pretty near all the same. The transfer function does not seem to vary much: true for everything from elemmentary school to college. This is obvious if you look hard at it, which naturally implies that hardly anyone believes it.

John S Bolton said at July 12, 2005 10:25 AM:

The government may pretend that NCLB is not anticaucasian; but if we look at who is rewarded and who is punished through it, the underlying premise of it, or one of them, must be that white children are to blame for the failure of the disadvantaged minorities. The minorities, however, no matter how far down into savagery they take a school, even if it was arrived in by them with good staff and faccilities, are to be rewarded with the chance to do the same damage at the next place. They need not face the consequences of their aggression and lack of effort to overcome their disadvantage; a less damaged school and staff will become available for them to abuse.

LPG said at July 12, 2005 1:46 PM:

Unfortunately the so called top students, gifted, talented, whatever they are called these days as opposed to "The Fast Reading Group" in my day; are receiving an education far and below that of a smart baby boomer who just stayed home and watched Cecil and Beany, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Playhouse 90 and Steve Allen and Jack Parr.
Today's public education consists of the Glitter and Glue concept. Students read minimally and superficially about a subject, or in an advanced plugged in school, they surf the net. If they got it on line, the dribble they spout will seem technologically advanced even if not legitmate or accurate. The final project, whether it be a history assignment, geography or literature, will consist of a Jackson Pollock/Motherwell collage that is suposed to symbolize mastery of the subject. First of all, these cardboard theses can be graded completely subjectively...although I imagine that artistic students or gay boys would produce prettier results. There is no messy business of right and wrong. No one will feel left out because they can't read or write and parents can and often do lend a hand. In affluent school districts parents can employ professional artists or designers to help. In some schools these projects are not even individual efforts by each student. The schools try to promote sharing and cooperation, while bypassing individual responsibility, by dividing the students into large groups that produce communal projects.
The best part is that the lazy teachers don't have to read boring papers by the majority of the students and probably would not recognize talent or promise by the best.
Surprisingly this technique can be employed to "teach" hard and technical subjects like math and science. In fact this Andrew Loyd Webber method of education is often justified because it makes difficult subjects fun and accessible to all. Think about it the next time you are waiting in line for a young clerk to make change... except at 7/11 where the clerk is the son of the owner and just on a break from MIT.

Mark said at July 12, 2005 4:29 PM:

Ed, Chris Kahn, the writer of the article wrote that the students, "didn't gain a significant academic boost". However one paragraph later wrote, "they did no better". Then later on he writes, "no significant difference". Which one is it? Either way it doesn't look good for the blank slate.

John S Bolton said at July 12, 2005 5:15 PM:

Officials and their scholars reward failure, or try to, because they hate human success. They hate human achievement and civilization, even to the extent of defining it as Bush does, as rewarding and aidng failure as a bounden duty of the strong. For centuries the depraved left has been crying; 'smash the rich'; for decades they've been saying 'kill the whites', and minorities have responded gleefully to the request. Aggression for the subsidization of the malicious professoriate has made this situation; it rewards failure in the very nature of the case, to have government schools grow and grow, the more and worse they fail.

Carl Shulman said at July 12, 2005 9:14 PM:

I think that some people are being too skeptical about the potential for schools to add value. This study shows that transferring from one school teaching using ineffective pedagogy (mandated by the unions, state education bureaucracy) to another using the same poor techniques on better students will not help a struggling kid. If the kids were able to transfer to private or charter schools they could actually seek out better teaching methods, and I would expect real differences. The Heritage Foundation published a book a while back describing schools that work with terrible demographics (poor, usually black or hispanic kids) who went from the bottom of the standardized tests to the top quintil or quartile. Regular objective testing, the power to hire and fire, and the ability to discard 'progressive' curricula were all necessary conditions. This does not work at the college level or for k-12 schools without testing because without standardized achievement exams there is no way to measure productivity. But there are well-constructed studies showing that some educational techniques work better than others, if only they are used.

To take one example: 'whole language' reading instruction is the norm in most public school systems because it is seen as ideologically 'progressive,' even though all the empirical evidence and controlled studies indicate that it simply does not work in teaching kids to read. Essentially, it rejects the idea of teaching kids the alphabet and phonics to memorize whole words like Chinese ideograms. Smart kids who are taught to read at home by their parents can get by in this regime, but poor and low-ability students never learn to read and get labelled 'learning-disabled.' Prior to the 1950's conversion of teachers' professional associations into unions and the widespread adoption of this pedagogy the rate of reported 'learning disabilities' was a fraction of what it is now. If all the public schools are 'whole language' then transferring will have no effect, but if some of the schools actually taught kids to read, then the benefits of choice could be enormous.

Kids with higher IQs and better parents are always going to perform better, but kids with low ability and poor family backgrounds are not even coming close to their potential in the public schools, which churn out huge numbers of 'graduates' who lack the basic literacy and numeracy to get by in a modern society. The vast majority of those could have acquired that basic competence with quality teaching: before the mid-20th century, when teachers' professional associations were converted into unions and 'progressive' education took off, the public schools were able to deliver quality instruction in reading, math, and science.

Randall Parker said at July 12, 2005 9:53 PM:


Is the Heritage study on the web? What tests were used? I'm highly skeptical of this claim. It is my impression that, for example, the kids in the Milwaukee vouchers program are still not learning at the level of middle class white kids.

Yes, "whole language" is retarded. Yes, the unions are bad. But I think you are exaggerating the potential for improvement.

gcochran said at July 12, 2005 11:30 PM:

Performance on standardized tests hasnot declined. Want me to say that 1,000 times? Better yet, when I become King, I'm going to make sure that people who endlessly repeat things that are easily shown to be false are put in the stocks. We might have to cut down every damn tree in North America.

seelow heights said at July 13, 2005 5:05 AM:

Even world-historical geniuses might consider providing links to aid in the enlightenment of the benighted. Just a suggestion.

CS said at July 13, 2005 8:23 AM:

Pardon my faux pas, here is the Heritage piece. These are exceptional cases (hence their inclusion) but they do show potential for improvement. Also remember that those test improvements are in basic literacy and arithmetic, not in calculus and linear algebra. If one of these schools manages to eke out 73rd percentile performance from low-aptitude children it could probably get 99th percentile results from high IQ kids with good families, but that doesn't change the fact that they get results in teaching basic skills to low-g students.


The decline I was referring to is relative, not absolute. The International Adult Literacy Survey (administered during the 90's to a random sample of the population throughout the OECD countries, not to a self-selected group like SAT takers) shows a steady drop in relative US ranking for literacy. Among people 16-25 the US came in 12th, while it was 2nd in the 56-65 category. Other OECD countries show literacy scores rising rising over time.


Randall: vouchers will not necessarily put dumb kids in the same classes as smart ones (which I agree is counterproductive) as long as schools receiving vouchers are still allowed to give admissions tests. Have Pell grants stopped colleges from sorting students by SAT scores? On the other hand, moving to a school with better techniques for teaching weak students could be very beneficial.

LPG said at July 13, 2005 10:09 AM:

You don't seem to get the point. Charter schools have not been shown to improve performance beyond what you would expect from a school with more involved or more accurately, lots of busy body parents all flogging their own pet peeves, prejudices and ideologies into the curriculum; be it saving the rainforest, sexual diversity, sexual abstinance, clarinet lessons, or in the South, baton twirling. I agree with Randall, 97% of people aren't that smart regardless what their parents think, or for that matter, what George Bush thinks is possible. If I had a child, and I don't, for which I am infninately glad; I would probably use the Winston Churchil child rearing method...a cold and distant mother...a stern and often disapproving father who dies of syphalis... and an assortment of austere and bleak not to mention sadistic schools where he led a lonely and sad existence. Oh but then I forgot...Churchil read voraciously from childhood... everything from comics to classics. He started writing books at three. Need I go on. Yes he was a genius but he was also innately curious and had a lot of time on his hands which he evidentily put to good use. He was given a good start with the basic classical education and took it from there. I will add, for the benefit of those students who are matriculating today...he also saved Civilization, for a while anyway.

CS said at July 13, 2005 12:16 PM:


Just because a school is private or charter doesn't mean it has better pedagogy, and I agree that parents and private school teachers can sacrifice academics for their other interests and ideologies as well.

I am not saying that proper instruction will turn a kid with an 85 IQ into John Stuart Mill or Winston Churchill, or even into college material. What I AM saying is that you can teach someone with an 85 IQ the specific skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic and that a few schools do so much better than others working with similar populations. Copying those successes (in pedagogy, discipline, incentives) could make it easier for low-IQ people to get along in everyday life and hold a job.

Randall Parker said at July 13, 2005 1:20 PM:


I downloaded that No Excuses report on 21 schools. The first school mentioned as greatly improved has, at the same time, a rising fraction of its student body that is white. Well, I don't see the results broken out by race. Did the school raise its scores by attracting students that score higher?

Similarly, the 2nd school in the report doesn't break out results by race or even indicate the racial mix of the school or how it changed during the period of changing scores. Also, these schools use a variety of tests. Showing how the students did in California ranking percentiles for some test does not show how they stack up nationally. Ditto for the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and several other tests used by the various schools. I'd be a lot more impressed by national NAEP comparisons.

Reading between the lines for Morse Elementary in Cambridge the school might have improved by attracting better students back from private schools. Remember if a school's staff greatly changes the appeal of a school that will change the make-up of the student body. Unless the results are measured for the exact same kids from one year to the next one can't tell whether the improvement really was from better performance by the lower performing kids. Morse Elementary now has a 25% Korean student body. Bet they are doing really well. But how are the blacks doing and how much of an improvement have the blacks demonstrated?

Also, with administrators and teachers under pressure to raise test scores favorable results have been produced many schools and even in whole school districts by cheating. Cheating is rampant. See here as well. These schools with supposedly wonderful stories are providing their own test score results. What percentage of the student bodies took the tests? Did any teachers or administrators fix tests or tutor students in advance about how to answer certain questions?

I'm not impressed with this report. It is written as a puff piece rather than as social science. It is typical of the slop that comes out of Washington DC think tanks. Give me some longitudinal results on the exact same students and do it with NAEP tests and average test scores and racial breakdowns and I'll be a lot more impressed.

LPG said at July 13, 2005 6:47 PM:

Dear Carl,
Sorry you didn't get my point. I realy don't know what you do with an IQ of 85, never having had that experiece. Beauty school is a thought...Super Model, move to Sierra Leone. I am sorry for being so sarcastic. One helpful writing style hint...don't use words like pedagogy. I had to look it up and it sounds too much like pedantic. Also when referring to historical characters, pick someone sexier than John Stuart Mill... although champion of individual rights that he was. Good luck if you go into pedagogy. I am sure that your idealism (not a bad thing) and sincerity will serve you well.

John S Bolton said at July 14, 2005 5:11 PM:

Indeed the low IQ can be made to learn phonics and the basics. NCLB promises to work on this, while at the same time making it all the more unlikely, by such methods as implicitly blaming the caucasian children for the failures of the disadvantaged minorities in public schools. Today the public schools do worse than if they did not exist, in terms of the basic skills mentioned. They are anticaucasian, yet they require the support of the majority. Take these two aspects together, and what can be concluded but that the time of the government school here is very nearly at an end?

raj said at July 14, 2005 6:09 PM:

"Indeed the low IQ can be made to learn phonics and the basics."

Two words: vocational schools

asb said at August 16, 2005 6:42 PM:

I don't know as much about this "No child left behind" as I should. I heard a rumor that there will be no more special education classes for the slower students. These students will be put into the same class as everyone else. I guess this sounds really bad, but that will mean the whole class will have to go slower in order for this child to keep up. My child is already bored at the speed he is taught, I can't imagine him going any slower. Can anyone tell me if this is untrue about no special classes?

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Web parapundit.com
Go Read More Posts On ParaPundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©