2013 February 03 Sunday
NY Times Bias On School Performance

Charter schools dilute the power of higher level managers of big school systems who have more credentials. Charter schools increase the power of parents. Naturally, the Gray Lady can't be enthused. Most charter schools do not accomplish much? Could be. But their performance isn't being properly measured.

That is the clear message of continuing analysis from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, which tracks student performance in 25 states. In 2009, its large-scale study showed that only 17 percent of charter schools provided a better education than traditional schools, and 37 percent actually offered children a worse education.

A study released this week by the center suggests that the standards used by the charter authorizers to judge school performance are terribly weak.

What the NY Times wont say: Politically correct liberal measures of school performance are inherently weak. Why? They do not control for innate ability of students. The editorial board isn't about propose what would be the most accurate way to measure school performance: give all the kids an IQ test. Then measure the ability of a school to teach kids at each IQ level as compared to other schools that have kids at the same IQ level.

Mainstream liberal discussions of school performance will remain intellectually and morally bankrupt until they start taking into account innate abilities of students. If a school has a bunch of 120+ IQ kids then incompetent teachers can produce great results. If the school has a bunch of 90- IQ kids (and plenty do) then the most gifted teachers will fail to teach much and their teaching skills will be wasted. But we are a long way away from a society where a mainstream media outlet will state the obvious.

What I'd like to know about charter schools: Do they have lower levels of violence and other nearby non-charter public schools? Do they attract parents with better behaved kids?

We are so far away from a reasonable intellectual framework for thinking about child development and schools. The title of a press release from Lund University in Sweden highlights the ridiculous intellectual framework used when looking for reasons why some students do better than others in school: School system favors pupils driven by worry and conscientiousness. Conscientious students get higher grades. Anyone surprised by this? Even if the teachers favor the conscientious aren't those kids learning more because they study more? The body of the press release is more reasonable than its title. Worth a read.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 February 03 05:44 PM 

Zamman said at February 4, 2013 10:42 AM:

"The editorial board isn't about propose what would be the most accurate way to measure school performance: give all the kids an IQ test."

The schools should be responsible for fostering a genuine interest for knowledge and open discussion in the student.

Students and class contents continue to be alien to each other, even if each student becomes an "owner" of a set of statements made by somebody (who created them or took them from another source.) Students have become used to memorize what's been learned. They deposit it in memory or carfully store that information in their notes.

Students nowadays feel deeply disturbed by new ideas and thoughts on a given topic, because what's new makes them doubt their fixed sum of information. Only those students who do not feel inclined to just store data, see that their memory needs an immediate and powerful interest in order to function well.

Randall Parker said at February 4, 2013 7:37 PM:


Schools can't foster an interest in knowledge in dumb kids and doesn't need to foster that interest in really bright kids. If I could go back in time and give my childhood self something I'd give him a great stack of excellent books. I'd rather have had that than better teachers. I was a reading addict then just as I am now. School did not do that to me.

scorr said at February 8, 2013 5:08 AM:

This made good points. In TX charters are required to serve an at-risk population and many end up with a high enrollment of at-risk students and the low performance associated with them. This is an easier metric (at-risk) to use in order to support your theory, since getting IQ tests wouldn't be possible. I would encourage you to delve into this more. The data is available in Texas at the TEA website, AEIS reports or http://www.tea.state.tx.us/staar/rpt/sum/

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