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Monday, July 27, 2009

Is Our Kids Learning Better Now?

Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released the PSSA results (the state standardized tests), and celebrated the results.  Of course, the Rendell administration wants to take credit for the improvement, claiming increased education spending and citing the flawed costing out study (rather than expanded school choice) to explain the improvement.   

While the statewide results are encouraging (assuming the test hasn't been changed), there is one really big problem--the PSSA is a very low standard of achievement.  In 2007, 82% more Pennsylvania students scored proficient on the PSSA than on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. For instance, the PSSA found that 75% of 8th graders were proficient in reading, and 68% in math.  But on the NAEP, only 36% and 38% reached proficiency, respectively.

This is not to imply there has been no improvement, but that Pennsylvania has a long way to go before we should celebrate the performance of our public schools.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 2008-2009 Pennsylvanians increased our state basic education funding for public education by $278 million. It was an unprecedented amount. The largest increase in state history! Education leaders and advocates promised great results in the growth of knowledge and skills for all children.

Pre K Counts started in 2005. Those children have reached 3rd grade and were just tested in the PA 3rd grades for Math.

In 2005 (without Pre K Counts or All Day Kindergarten) the Math score for 3rd grade was 81% on grade level.

In 2009, with All Day K, small class size in K-3 and Pre K Counts programs in place the math score for 3rd grade is 81.9% on grade level.

With the hundreds of millions we have invested in these special programs, I expected a much better result for 3rd grade math in 2009.

Reading PSSA 2009 for 3rd grade is only 77% on grade level.

On the Reading PSSA

ED. Sec. Zahorchak has repeatedly promised this enormous increase in spending would mean our children would be successful. We should see a very high level of success.

The 8th graders in 2009 did not have the state’s special programs: All Day K, Pre K Counts or smaller class sizes in elementary school. Their reading result is 80.9% on grade level in 2009. That is higher than 3rd grade’s score.

Clearly, higher spending on class size and early childhood training is not the secret to good education. We can achieve a high level of success for our kids with good teachers and high expectations.

Comparing same students over the years.
The 2006 3rd graders Math scored 83% on grade level. Their 6th grade scores have fallen to 75.5% in 2009.

The 2008 4th graders Math scored 79.6% on grade level. In 5th grade, their scores fell to 73.6% in 2009.

The 2006 8th graders scored 62.2% on grade level in mathematics. Their 11th grade scores fell to 56% in 2009.

In Reading 2009 the same student scores decline for 3rd, 4th, 11th grades.

The reading scores improve for: 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grades.

See the chart http://www.pdenewsroom.state.pa.us/newsroom/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=149775

Per PSBA data
Average Superintendent’s salary has increased from: $110,000 in 2005 to $122,165 in 2008.

Average Principal’s salary has increased from:$83,976 in 2005 to $90,213 in 2008.

Average Teacher’s salaries have grown from $53,492 in 2005 to $56,460 in 2008.

This remarkable increase in salaries has serious implications regarding the upcoming pension crisis.