OUR CHILDREN'S FUTURE IS IN GREAT DANGER!
The chart below covers a very disturbing picture about our example, the Knox County, Tennessee public schools. Many others are similar.
There is uncontrolled spending, significant overspending of the approved budget for more than a decade, possibly back to 1970. Why haven't we done anything to stop it and put a monthly reporting system in place watching spending vs the approved budget?
The results are very poor: 80% of those who entered 9th grade are not prepared to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school after leaving high school, according to ACT's Readiness Report. They will be minimum wage employees at best with the new generation of technology and robotics eliminating their jobs. Such poor performance had a devastating impact on the work force and on 111 key industries where we have been losing market share to foreign companies as a result! This has been going on since 1970 with education going nowhere!! No one! Not one person in leadership stood up to do something about it. Why do you think that is? And why are you not taking action to reverse the poor performance?!
Although students increased only 13% since 1995, administrators increased a whopping 164%, and the percentage of administrators to total employees is seven times normal (St. John's University Graduate School Of Education research lead by Dr. Ornstein, Dean of the school). Did that help the results? Of course not! Could the results have become worse without all those administrators? Anyone with management training and experience knows that building administration beyond the normal operating ratios causes major organizational efficiency problems. Why has not anyone in Tennessee leadership set some operating ratio standards for education districts?! Is this all done purposefully to destroy the state and the country?
Yet the school district set an all time low ACT score record at 20.2 in 2013. After more than four decades of increasing spending per student and with results going nowhere, do you think that our leadership had enough time to change this destructive trend? Don't claim any action you have taken, unless it raised the ACT average to 24 to have 80% of graduates ready for the workforce or further education. Suggest you give this serious thought because this question is about to become very serious everywhere.
In the chart below, all of these figures were and are dismal since 2008 under the board of education and James McIntyre as superintendent. ANYONE CAN CLAIM THAT THEY HAVE DONE A MILLION THINGS. HOWEVER, IF THE AVERAGE ACT SCORE DID NOT MOVE INTO A MORE SUCCESSFUL AREA ABOVE 22, IT IS PAINFULLY OBVIOUS THAT NOTHING OF IMPORTANCE WAS DONE, REGARDLESS OF HOW GREAT THEIR STORY SOUNDS. Sources are the Tennessee Report Card, the ACT READINESS Report and the Tennessee Statistical Reports. For the chart, ACT CCR means ACT Career (job) and College Readiness percentage; explained at http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html
80% of students who entered 9th grade are not ready to be trained for a job in Knox County, Tennessee when leaving high school according to ACT's career and college readiness figures in 2014. The state of Tennessee is worse, and the US average is close.|
For black students 99% of the 9th graders are not ready after high school according to ACT. THIS IS A POWDER KEG IN THE MAKING. However, a chain of 32 public charter schools (Success Academies) in New York, who take only poor inner city minority black students and a few Hispanics, has been producing superior results compared to virtually all New York state schools. New York state is the 5th best performer in the USA while Tennessee is close to 35th. It is possible to do much better than we are doing in Tennessee! You just have to take action on it!!
The poorly educated workforce, mostly untrainable (80% per ACT), is a major concern of corporations who are paying most of the taxes. To do well, they need a well trained work force. They are holding on to cash instead of hiring. To survive, they will have to expand elsewhere or move entirely, or depend on the new generation of cognitive robotics.
The poor public school performance already damaged many of our children and our work force. According to ACT, 80% of those who entered 9th grade are not ready to enter a college or tech school or to be trained for a job. VW recently interviewed in one of our cities many for factory jobs they want to fill. After screening the resumes, only one in twenty qualified for a job. That is terrible. Our schools are creating a lot of future unemployed people because of the poor job our public school districts are doing. Does this mean that too many of our children have been and are being damaged? Absolutely! IT IS TIME FOR SERIOUS ACTION TO FIX THIS DESTRUCTIVE SYSTEM.
We are the fifth largest spender on education in the world, with very poor results. Having enough money is not the problem. If any education district asks for more money, what is wrong with asking "How much will the requested money increase the average ACT score, what average ACT score will you achieve in the coming school year as a result, and could you provide an operating plan for the said year that simply specifies what monthly objectives each supervisory person shall achieve in each month of each school in order to meet the increased average ACT score for the school district?" Such a justification should be provided with any money request including the budget when the superintendent submits it for board approval. I wonder why we don't do that, just like one wonders why we overspend the approved budget with ease.
The bad quality of public education in Knox County and Tennessee is destroying our children's future, our work force quality and therefore our product and service quality in the market place worldwide. If ACT is correct in showing more than 80% of 9th graders not ready after high school but for minimum wage jobs, our public schools are more destructive than any other enemy could be with very few exceptions. VW's manufacturing operation in Chattanooga, Tennessee shows according to their CEO that after screening resumes, in the interviewing process only one candidate in twenty is found qualified for a manufacturing job. That more than supports ACT's research conclusions.|
How could our board and superintendent allow such a damaging thing to happen? We present several answers below to these questions.
MANAGING AND FOCUSING TO ACHIEVE THE RIGHT SINGLE OBJECTIVE IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO IMPROVEMENT AND SUCCESS, ESPECIALLY IN POORLY PERFORMING ORGANIZATIONS. The education-related actions of our school board are NOT FOCUSED on THE single best indicator of achievement by the end of high school: an average ACT score objective that reflects at least a 5% growth and high enough expectations, which also becomes the single objective for the board and superintendent. There are secondary objectives also. It covers all the things that supervisory employees must accomplish every month in every school and in central management to reach the single ACT objective herein by the board and the superintendent. For performance evaluation of the board and superintendent, however, only the top level annual average ACT objective must be used only, especially in a poorly performing organization, so that a sharp focus remains on their level for the most important objective only. Unfortunately they publish a large number of objectives (e.g., 14-18) that do nothing but dilute what needs to be focused on. They are generally vague so that the board and superintendent can give themselves an outstanding performance review. A good example is meaningless objectives like what Knox County called 100/90/90/90 for almost a decade. Its details are at http://www.usaedustat.com/1sevenactions.html#100909090. We need ACT score focus in every school district, as the basis of performance evaluation for boards and superintendents. Without connecting the measurable ACT objective to performance evaluation of management, we cannot improve.
Between 1995 and 2013 the number of our students increased 13%. But the superintendents increased the number of administrators in Knox County, Tennessee with the approval of the board BY 164% DURING THE SAME PERIOD. Central management numbers have been skyrocketing and in 2013 we set an all time low average ACT score record at 20.2. Too much of the education dollars are not getting to the schools and classrooms. In addition, when central management grows beyond a certain size (e.g. in total central employees 1% of total school district employees per the American Association of School Administrators; in administrators half percent of total employees per reference (St. John's University research) presented in the chart below).
The spending in the chart above covers all education related expenses that the state reports in their statistical reports annually, some of which the school district does not report to the public. There are other education district expenses that even the state figure does not show. For example the school district's legal expenses are such. One wonders what other education expenses are hidden. TO FIND OUT, ONLY A FORENSIC AUDIT OF THE ENTIRE COUNTY WOULD SHOW SUCH EXPENSES. A FORENSIC AUDIT IS RESISTED FORCEFULLY BY THE EDUCATION DISTRICT. ONE WONDERS WHY. A forensic audit is more expensive than a normal audit. However, compared to the waste, it costs less and it would have a disciplining impact on the careless spending.|
We overspend the approved education budget by 28-38% every year. We spent $560 million in this school district alone in 2013. We pay interest on more than half a billion dollars of mortgages including unused school real estate properties. Why don't we sell such properties and use such proceeds to reduce such interest expenses? The superintendent is not responsible for some of this area, and he should be responsible for all education related expenses. Per pupil spending is higher than most of the top 20 performing countries in the world, and teacher morale, on whom the results depend, is poor. Neither the board nor the superintendent did anything that raised teacher morale.
Our education system eagerly established objectives for teachers, objectives that are faulty in management practice, but we do not have an ACT score objective on the board and the superintendent for performance evaluation where it is needed the most - on top. They prepare their own vague unmeasurable objectives and then THEY do their own performance evaluation with board approval. Doesn't anyone realize on the state level how senseless and self defeating such practice is from the management perspective? For good reason, measurable specific objective setting must start on the top with the most important key indicator of success.
The superintendent creates beautiful, 50-75 page "Strategic" Five-Year Plans, with meaningless objectives like what Knox County called 100/90/90/90 for almost a decade. Its details are at http://www.usaedustat.com/1sevenactions.html#100909090. The board of education does not lead their only employee the superintendent, but the superintendent leads the board of education, who never even managed a single school before he was hired for one of the largest school districts, ours. BUT THERE IS NO ANNUAL OPERATING PLAN IN WRITING THAT DEFINES WHAT MEASURABLE OBJECTIVE EACH MANAGER MUST ACHIEVE EACH MONTH IN EVERY SCHOOL AND CENTRAL MANAGEMENT, TO ACHIEVE THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S ACT SCORE OBJECTIVE FOR THE YEAR.
Although they probably exist, I looked for but I have not found a single person on any board of education, state or district, or education department member in any state, who knew how poor our performance really is, understood the ACT readiness figures, knew who the top three high performance countries are in education, and most importantly what they are doing differently that could improve our performance.
We hope that the board and superintendent can explain why their practices and results are acceptable, let alone the best. No wonder our results are so poor. It should be obvious what actions we need to take to correct it. It is not more spending. However, if those who are to take action have no idea what to do, CHANGE THEM. Major changes need to be made, with excellent execution.
We don't know what top few actions (1-2) to focus on in an excellent manner, and the results just keep going down with our schools making more than 80% of the 9th graders unemployable by the time they leave high school with such a high failure rate. We waste billions of the public's hard-earned tax dollars. Now the government will provide more of our tax dollars for two years of community college training for those who qualified for a regular high school diploma, with 80% not ready to be trained for a job. I think that the way the public school districts operate with the high failure rate is criminal. The free two years of college will be helpful, but not enough, unless we improve significantly job training readiness in high school to get much more out of the free two-year college program.
Our law makers are busy with a hundred different projects at any one time. Education is one of them. Some projects are more important than others. WE DO NOT GIVE EDUCATION ENOUGH IMPORTANCE. VERY IMPORTANTLY THE PUBLIC IS NOT BEING INFORMED OF THE POOR RESULTS THAT OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS DELIVER. Why have not our law makers passed laws FOR DECADES to implement the above mentioned actions to make our primary and secondary schools produce higher ACT scores AS OTHER NATIONS PASSED US? Isn't that the ultimate objective coming out of high school? To get to 80% readiness from the current unreadiness, our high schools today must produce an average ACT score of 24 minimum. This number is slowly increasing because future job requirements will grow even more aggressively than in the past as low end jobs will be automated more aggressively. Our poor high school performance is providing pressure on the robotics industry worldwide to provide an alternative to untrainable young people with the wrong attitude. The first result of cognitive robots will be visible by the end of 2015, targeted at more than 100 professions. We don't just need some actions from our legislators. We need urgent actions by legislators that increase the ACT scores like the examples we mention above.
Why doesn't the state set operating ratios and standards in the above key areas? If we explained the public the above poor performance and what its results are on our children's lives and our economic future, it would be very helpful in making changes. The school district PR machines are large and well funded, and their stories for the public create the impression that "There is room for improvement, but we are doing well". Why is public education a "CAN'T DO" organization with no action for decades to correct it? The above gives many clues. WE THE PUBLIC DESERVE BETTER FOR OUR MONEY from the governor, legislators, boards of education and superintendents.
IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO REPLACE THE PERSON YOU HIRED WHEN THEY DID NOT DELIVER. YOU HAVE TO KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT WHAT NEEDS TO BE DELIVERED AND MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON YOU HIRED DELIVERS! YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE IF YOU HIRED THE INDIVIDUAL WHO COULD NOT PERFORM WELL!
Parents and children have one of two choices to make:
This can be accomplished if the parents and schools deliver this message repeatedly.
1. Work hard for 12-16 years in school getting A's or B's in every course, and have a normal life for 60-70 years having a lot of fun, a financially problem-free family, a nice home, a car, help parents financially if needed, earning enough money for it all, or...
2. Have fun now, don't work hard getting Cs or worse lower grades, because fun (including bad behavior) "is more important than hard work for a child" . "I just want my kids to be happy!" - said a local board of education member to me. Barely get a high school diploma, and have the lowest paying jobs with a lot of unemployment, poverty and a bad life for 60-70 years. They will be after parents for money, because they cannot earn it!
The US is 36th in math internationally in 2013. The best state of the US is Massachusetts, compared to the 5th internationally, Hong Kong. Illustrates the problem we have.
Massachusetts' students rank 1st in the US in math. Hong Kong's students rank among the top 5 in the world. The US is 36th, a new low record in math in 2013 (OECD-PISA tests of 65 countries). The best in our country do not come CLOSE to matching even the top 20 in the world. 87% of the questions on the Hong Kong test require a higher level of thinking and knowledge. Only 6% of questions on the Massachusetts test are on the same level. These figures express how woefully behind we are (http://iadvocateforkids.org/PTA/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CCSShandout4pg-FINAL.pdf, Page 3). Our example, Tennessee is worse than Massachusetts.
If anyone says "our schools have high expectations" look at their objective. Is it an ACT or SAT score? Is it at least 5% higher than the last one achieved? Is it also the objective of the board and superintendent for their performance evaluation?
The Knox County, Tennessee superintendent and board claim high expectations, and a world class education for our students. Unfortunately it is untrue. We have low expectations. There is pressure on the teachers to advance children to the next year and graduate them on time. Often, the teachers are told to change test grades for the better to achieve better graduation rates. Absolutely insane. That means weak preparation from grade one making other grades difficult. Low objectives or no measurable objectives testify to that. Most districts do not have ACT or SAT score objectives nor operating plans to meet them. Hence the poor results. We have poor district management in the hands of too many inexperienced superintendents and not in the hands of experienced principals. Low morale and poor results testify to that as well.
Our Knox County, Tennessee example - the truth is different than what the school district publishes in the newspapers
Our example, Knox County, Tennessee's school district's excessive spending (the approved budget is exceeded every year) and more than 80% of students who entered 9th grade are not ready to be trained for a job (per ACT 2006) or to have a chance to complete only the first year of a college or tech school after high school (ACT 2009 benchmarks), is hard to imagine. It is that tragic. Just as an example, to determine those who are not ready counting from 9th grade, we count 100% minus graduation rate (e.g., 89%). The remainder of 11% is not ready. Next multiply this 89% (regular diplomas) by the ACT Readiness percentage (e.g., 23%) of regular diplomas. That shows 20% of regular diplomas "ACT Ready" from those who entered 9th grade. That leaves 80% of children who entered 9th grade not ready for job training or to enter the first year of a college or tech school according to ACT. An absolutely horrible result. WE WILL NOT HAVE ENOUGH FOR SOCIAL EXPENSES FOR THAT MANY PEOPLE. OUR ECONOMY CANNOT SUPPORT IT. How do you think MOST PEOPLE'S CHILDREN of this 80% will be earning enough money to live on for the rest of their lives? Most may become homeless. If the local school board and superintendent either cared or knew what to do to develop much better results, we would see better results. They either do not care or don't know what to do. With results like this, most of the public's money is not spent in the right places in public education. This is exactly what poor management does. They do not even have an average ACT score PRIMARY objective that is only 5% higher than the last one actually achieved, as the only objective on which their annual performance is reviewed, so that they are FOCUSED on achieving it. Instead, they set their own vague objectives and give themselves an excellent performance review. Without the specific measurable objective nothing happens in any organization. They just demand more money every year. Money never solved the low performance problems of the past.
The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 49th in quality of mathematics and science education of 148 nations. World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, Available at: http://www.weforum.org/pdf/GCR09/Report/Countries/United%20States.pdf. OECD PISA tests 65 nations' 15 year olds. The USA dropped to a new low of 36th in mathematics in 2013.
A presidential project, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 (2010)" concluded in a study that disparities in U.S. K-12 education compared to those of many other nations impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession, one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing. Please read at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12999&page=1.
Good education is the only ticket out of poverty, meaning a 24 ACT average (equals 80-85% readiness for being trained for a job or having a chance only to attend the first year of a college or tech school per ACT) or higher by any student in order to be able to get a job or to go for a university education. However, the majority of our high schools are providing 5-25% ACT readiness only with average ACT scores of 17-21.5. Private schools develop graduates in the 90-99% ACT readiness area, most at a lower cost than public schools.
In talking to graduate school professors in our universities one will find that before 2005, foreign students who were the best performers aspired to get a job in the USA and stay, making up for the short fall in American students in science and engineering. That has been changing. Today more and more foreign students with MS and PhD degrees in science and engineering from American universities are returning home because the opportunities there are better. Professors will also tell you that many American students come out of our high schools poorly trained and unmotivated, do not work hard and are unprepared to do college-level work.
Too many parents do not care BECAUSE THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND what will happen to their children who don't do an excellent job in school. Is that their fault? No. In some areas of the US, like in south eastern states, local newspapers, radio and TV stations are not telling the public about the poor state of education being a major contributor to the economic failure of the area they serve through unemployable high school graduates. They could be informed by the newspapers and the local media, but they are not, as if all was fine. It is not enough just for the teachers to talk to parents. The newspapers and the media must deliver the truth and its consequences repeatedly to both parents and the public in general. If parents don't know the truth about the disastrous results of the education system and understand why little Johnny must rise above it, how much blame can you put on them? Some of the top-performing countries and schools within the US solved this problem. We could also, if we were less interested in excuses, and looked at how Finland or schools like the Harlem Success Academy do it instead.
Bad behavior disrupting entire classes by a single student in class is dealt with too lightly making bullying an attractive sport to others. Some districts in the US issue fines to parents of ill behaving kids. How can a teacher be expected to do a good job if the class is being disrupted by one child, yet the teacher has no authority to take immediate corrective action to discourage such behavior becoming an example to follow? Most importantly, we need to understand that we cannot make students learn who do not want to learn, unless we motivate them by teaching them about learning being a life time process; and about a best education resulting in more enjoyable and better-paying jobs and a better life. Get them excited from preschool on. Make them possibility thinkers. Help teachers with more freedom and teaching aids to do that. However, teacher morale is low, which is an upper management problem on the district level.
Management training and experience on the scale of a school district are lacking both in boards of education, superintendents and central management, and state laws lack the appropriate management guide lines in laws to ensure better performance to a degree of uniformity across all districts. This is the biggest reason for poor performance in education districts (specifics below).
Jobs in the future will require a more educated work force. Instead, we are and have been developing less-educated people, more and more students who are unmotivated, and unable to learn a job after high school. As of 2014, this figure is a shocking 80% of those students who enter Knox County, TN high schools in 9th grade (2010 TN Report Card and 2011 ACT Report). As if those weren't bad enough, Tennessee's statewide results are even worse at 89%.
Principals of schools need most of the authority delegated to them, that superintendents and their central management have today in USA school districts:
Look at the numbers, percentages and their trends in the graphs above.
Knox County is not the worst place for education in Tennessee. It is close to average in Tennessee. But it is poor nationally. Just look at the results from its surrounding school districts below. Notice the very high number of administrators per student in each case, especially in large school districts like Knox County. Too many chiefs are a good indicator of poor performance in any organization.|
Let's look at the individual ACT results below of the county's high schools over eleven years. If the organization was well managed, most of the high schools should show a steady uptrend and not a disorderly downtrend. This is the result of lacking measurable academic test result objectives every month to focus the high schools in order for the school district to meet a growing average ACT score objective. Without that what we have is poor performance.|
But let's look at some of the basics first to see what creates this situation.|
Is it important to be internationally competitive in knowledge as a high school graduate? Why?Why not just within the USA? Why should we compare our high school performance with other nations?
With airplanes, cars, television sets and radios the world became smaller, and nations became interdependent among each other because the entire world became everyone's market. We see imported products everywhere, don't we? Our companies want to sell their products and services internationally. There is a huge market out there. The best products for the money that customers liked the most sold well. They were American products through the 50's and the 60's. A few decades later, even the larger companies like an aircraft manufacturer may buy the jet engines in England or in the USA, have the wings manufactured elsewhere, various other parts would be purchased at hundreds of different international companies with final assembly in the USA. We stopped making electronics, televisions, large construction machines and other products because foreign suppliers could make them more innovative, less expensive and more reliable. All because the better trained workforce in other countries could create better, more reliable and less expensive products.
Why don't we purchase only US-made products? Because people or companies will always buy the products that they like. Because the desired quality for the price was no longer available from American companies. Successful companies require and have a well educated workforce, from the low end jobs to the highest, from a good high school education to a PhD in the specific fields that the employer needs. That is a basic requirement for the ability to create winning products which we did well until about the 70's. Then we started seeing a lot of imported products that were preferred by the American customer from the inexpensive to the very expensive. Today we lost entire industries. Look at what happened to the TV industry, electronics and others.
The quality of the product depends on the quality of the workforce, which then depends on the quality of education that the public schools do for the majority through high school. If the American high schools are not producing better educated students than foreign countries, the companies that hire them will be handicapped. The relationship between the quality of high school graduates and the competitiveness of the products of the companies that hire them, clearly shows that our high school school systems are in competition with other countries' high school systems. We are indirectly competing on the high school level with all countries. Their products are winning unfortunately. We dropped to 36th internationally in math in 2014, a new low record in the testing of 15 year olds (OECD PISA test published 2013 covering 65 nations). That is very bad news.
What happened to education spending and performance since 1970?
ACT's READINESS measurement is accurate, and few understand what it means.If one wants to understand the ACT Readiness area, read http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html (with links to ACT's documents). It explains how the most important test, the ACT, evaluates students, how ACT defines "Career and College Readiness" (ACT CCR) with links to ACT documents. ACT CCR means readiness to have favorable odds (not 100%) to finish only the first year of college or technical school since 2009 or to be trained for a job, since in 2006 ACT published that the requirements for job training and college readiness have become the same.
Is Our Public Education System Acting And Spending Our Money In The Interest Of The People And Our Nation?
1. The US Supreme Court has called education 'the very foundation of citizenship.' That means that we cannot have successful citizens who can ensure our country's success without a good education.
The budget is overspent every year by a lot. We spend more per student than the top twenty competitors in the world whose cost of living is higher. OUR results are extremely poor and the public is unaware.Our school district spends more money per student than the top twenty countries in education with only one exception - and their cost of living is higher than ours. We have become the 5th largest spender per student in the world as we dropped to a new record low 36th place in mathematics skills. According to ACT and the dropout figures, more than 80% of those entering high school in 9th grade are not ready to be trained for a job or to have a chance to attend the first year only of a college or tech school, after leaving high school. This is a dismal result. Tennessee and Knox County are a lower performer that the US average is, delivering the above disastrous results. One can legitimately question such irresponsible spending of the PEOPLE'S MONEY. For example, we set a new all time low record in the average ACT score in Knox County in 2013. During the same year the approved budget was $403 million, but they spent on education-related expenses $560 million. The board took no action to change the way they have been operating the school system, and expenses vs budget is not reported to the public monthly. When the results are poor, but you get enough funding, much of the money is not getting to the right places in the school system to produce an acceptable level of job and college readiness.
Our school district overspends its approved budget. The school board constantly asks for more money. The board does not inform the people about poor results they have created for years for our children, and the huge amount of money that they spent to satisfy their needs and not the teachers' and children's needs. If they did that, the results would be much better.|
That is why they employ a PR group that is larger than what one finds in multi-billion dollar corporations, to generate positive stories in the newspapers covering up the actual poor performance of the school district. Why does a school district need ANY professional PR people? Think about it.
The public whose money is being spent so irresponsibly for such poor results deserves much better than this. We need laws changed or amended as required to get this poorly performing system to do urgently to what we need in the 21st Century.
The example we use is Knox County, Tennessee,A school district that is 54th of 127 school districts in Tennessee (2010 US Census). Tennessee is 35th-45th in the USA in academic performance depending on the report. The USA unfortunately sank to 36th in 2013 (OECD-PISA tests) internationally. Other nations are passing us. Our public education continues to decline and we are not improving it while other nations have improved theirs. This is hurting us economically because it is a well trained work force that creates competitive products for any customer worldwide today, and our workforce is not competitive. This is one of the important factors that is impacting negatively our national income. Education quality impacts all industries.
In Knox County, Tennessee the average ACT score was 21.9 with 26% readiness of those with a regular diploma in 2008. In 2013, we set an all time low record in the average ACT score at 20.2. The readiness per ACT means: readiness for job training or to get a chance only to finish the first year of a college or technical school only. The ACT readiness level was only 21% of those with a regular diploma. 79% were not ready for any lasting employment or further education. Counting from 9th grade entry, add to the 79%, dropouts and those who could not earn a regular diploma (= 100% minus "graduation rate"), and we end up with 80-90% of our children leaving high school not ready. Instead of going up since 2008, we dropped. These are very poor results. Why did they fail so badly?
The answer of James McIntyre, superintendent is that we went to 100% ACT testing of students causing the drop in the average ACT score because those not taking it were the poorer students. Although his answer seems to be valid, let's look at the facts. We respectfully disagree. The fundamental problem is that the average ACT score and the ACT readiness percentage of regular diplomas was and is extremely low every single year The above percentage of those students who are not even ready to be trained for a job is so low that even a one point ACT improvement would make no difference of significance in the readiness results. However, in addition the facts are that we went from 92% to 100% ACT testing of all students from 2009 to 2010 respectively and dropped 1.3 ACT points, 0.3 points or 30% bigger drop than the state of Tennessee whose average performance was lower at that time than Knox County's performance. We could have been working hard to be on an uptrend in performance for years before James McIntyre was hired as superintendent, and we did not. We knew more than two years in advance that the 100% testing is coming. The presence of a new superintendent, James McIntyre made no difference. We could have, but we did not prepare for 100% of the students having to take the ACT. The drop from 2008 to 2013 was 1.7 points. Does this justify a drop of such magnitude instead of working on increasing our poor results even in 2008 and before? Not in our opinion. The board is in charge by law. Not the superintendents who come and go. They were and are not managing the school system to improve and that mistake is costing us a fortune.
By law, the elected boards of education get at least as much money each year as in the previous year and can spend it any way they please - regardless of performance. Boards to date (before 2014) did not establish any objectives and operating plans to achieve them in order to raise the average ACT scores, and assumed that all that can be done will be done by the superintendents they have hired. Such avoidance of one's responsibility in a position of trust always results in poor outcomes. The results shown above are terrifying. However, more than 30 states managed to cut back education spending since 2008. Their academic results did not go down. See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011.|
Even with such reductions in spending, the US is the fifth largest spender per student among the industrialized countries in 2013, with the lowest academic performance among those nations. Our own education spending increases did not result in ACT score increases, and it is the ACT results that define readiness for work or higher learning. It is fair to say that the constant request for more money by the board is unjustified in view of the poor results.
The elected school boards and superintendents write their own objectives at the beginning of a school year, always vague or insignificant or unmeasurable. At year end they write up their own performance evaluation against the objectives THEY specified (board approved) and give themselves an excellent performance review. Such a practice never leads to good results. Their income and budget are guaranteed by law to be at least the same as what they received in the prior year. There is no incentive to perform to increase average ACT scores. There is a bloated central management organization with a large PR group to generate only good news to make the board and superintendent look better. This is one important reason for the poor performance - the foxes are in the hen house, and they get paid no matter what happens. The ACT results are so bad that they indicate 80-90% of the children who enter 9th grade are not even prepared to be trained for a job after high school. They cannot communicate properly in English, cannot do basic math and cannot even fill out a job application properly.|
We spend slightly more than $10,500 per student in 2014. We are not sure because some education spending is hidden in different cost centers, and the board and superintendent do not disclose to the public the total amount of money that is spent to support the education district. Much less is spent in the schools that perform well, and more than twice what we spend in the better school in the poorly performing schools. The higher spending goes on for decades in the poorly performing schools, and the results do not change from being poor for virtually all students.
The spending is out of control
The long-term poorly-performing schools in a school district are the results of what elected school boards and their superintendents can accomplish. The graph below shows the great job they are doing. The only thing that is going up is spending.|
After 12-14 years of education, the education is costing parents in today's tax dollars at least $126,000 - $147,000 total for each student for 12-14 years. However...think how much that makes the cost of educating just one ACT Ready student. That is what counts. Out of 10 students entering 9th grade, 9 are not ready but we pay for them also, plus the one who is ready. That's ten times the cost of one, or $1,260,000 - $1,470,000 for 12-14 years or $105,000 for one year to develop ONE READY STUDENT for job training or to have only a chance at finishing the first year of a college or technical school. Failing products or services always raise the cost of products and services that work well, and this situation is representing an enormous failure. That is the cost of developing only one student who leaves high school, ready for job training or further learning without remedial training. |
SUGGESTED SOLUTION1: report to the public on the school district's website the cost of developing one ready student with a high school diploma per ACT's definition of readiness counting from 9th grade entry, establish a specific objective to reduce this cost by a specific percentage for the board and superintendent.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION2: The board's and superintendent's most important two objectives need to be, but never are,
Any other objectives are less important and are subordinate to the above objectives which are the most important objectives of any school. Why? Because the ACT result is the one official measure that shows what students have learned from grade one to twelve. Also because such an ACT score objective would focus the board and superintendent on the task of improving ACT scores, and would motivate them to do something about the poor results. The most important objective that is the key indicator of success and is expressed in numbers has a big advantage. One cannot create a positive story for the public if one does not meet a numeric objective that is the key indicator of readiness for the workforce after high school. Numbers do not lie and cannot be misstated. Present the average ACT score objective vs the actual average ACT result achieved, and the spending vs the year to date budget in the newspapers, media and on the school district's own website. The public needs to know that these are the board's and superintendent's achievements vs their objectives.
The school district uses the percentage of students getting a diploma as a measure of accomplishment. The ACT Readiness percentage of regular diplomas showed in 2013 that only 21% of the diploma holders were ready to be trained for a job and 79% were NOT READY. Clearly the diplomas are not worth the paper they are printed on, and show something that is worth nothing. Like touting the achievement of higher scores on the state tests that are much easier than the ACT and produce higher scores - but the student's knowledge is as low as ever. Why use graduation rate under these conditions as an objective instead of using an average ACT score that is 5% higher than the last ACT score actually achieved? Because the easy tests' inflated results for the public create the impression that the superintendent is doing a good job. The PR created false positive impression important while the child cannot get a job after high school, or is the TRUTH that is important? Nothing can be improved if one cannot admit exactly where they are at the start of the effort to improve and if the effort to change is not based on facts.
There are good superintendents. But not with results like above. Unless the system is unmanageable. Superintendents are silent about what is unmanageable. When you are silent and do nothing, you own the problem.
Between 1995 and 2013 the number of our students increased only 13%. But the superintendents increased the number of administrators in Knox County, Tennessee with the approval of the board BY 164% DURING THE SAME PERIOD. Central management grew and in 2013 we set an all time low average ACT score record at 20.2. Remember that 80-90% of those children who entered 9th grade leave high school without being prepared to be trained for a job. |
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: reduce the number of administrators to 1995 levels or 1% (for central administration) and 2.5% (for school administration) of total employees, a standard presented in some charts below, whichever is lower.
When superintendents, supervisors or managers get paid the same and keep their jobs for many years with the above poor ACT results and high spending, why are we spending the people's hard-earned tax dollars to keep them and yet demand additional millions for new programs with a history of such requests never having increased the average ACT score? We have to understand that many ideas presented sounded good. However, what counts is the raising of the existing average ACT scores to date. If past programs did not raise it, where is the assurance that a new program proposed by the same people without an operating plan and an average ACT objective will do so? |
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: every additional money request and the annual expense budget submitted for approval to include an increasing average ACT score objective along with a school level operating plan to achieve it. Additional money requests to be justified on the basis of ACT score increase in the current and coming school year.
In any activity or business, WHEN THE RESULTS ARE BAD, AS OURS ARE, MUCH OF THE MONEY DOES NOT GET TO THE RIGHT PLACES TO IMPROVE THE ACT SCORES. It is the excessively large administration and their support expense that is taking substantial dollars away from the teachers and their needs, who in turn are the ones to improve the poor results. Since the ACT score is the best indicator of how well school districts prepare our children, WHY ARE WE KEEPING ADMINISTRATORS WHO ARE NOT INCREASING THE ACT SCORES? |
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: don't keep administrators who have not increased the average ACT score in their area for 3 years.
Since WW2, organizations have found and management schools pointed out that instead of central management focus, transferring the majority of central management decision-making authority to those who produce the results (the schools, the operating units) is far more effective. We are not delegating authority to the schools for hiring, firing, accounting, spending approval if within approved budget, budget planning, and IT, and meeting an academic achievement objective that is higher than the achievement of the prior year. We should do that. Discipline problems can ruin a school day for an entire class. We are not giving teachers authority to decide the punishment immediately on discipline problems as they occur and to supply teacher needs to allow them to be free to do their best in the classroom. We are not giving teachers sufficient authority to excel, or fail if they are not good enough.Why are we not doing these things to help teachers improve classroom performance? Management, who failed to date, must believe that teachers cannot do better, and they are wrong. |
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: decentralize central management decision making to principals of schools.
We consistently overspend by 28-38% the approved budget plus capital and interest expenses every year, producing poor results out of high school as measured by ACT year after year. Just look at the graphs below. We are the fifth largest spender in the world per student, yet we are 36th in math. Therefore money is not the problem. The sources are the OECD 2013 report, the 2013 Tennessee Dept. of Education Statistical Reports and the Report Cards. Why do we allow such undisciplined and wild spending practices with such bad ACT results?
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: report to the public year to date approved budget vs actual spending monthly with not more than a 30 day delay, covering ALL DOLLARS SPENT IN THE INTEREST OF THE EDUCATION DISTRICT.
Approved budgets mean nothing. Just look at the second chart above that includes numbers from ACT reports and the Tennessee Education Department's Statistical Report to the Governor and see how much we overspend beyond the approved budget. Their slogan is "Excellence for all children". There is no excellence here. Of those children who entered 9th grade, such elected boards and their superintendents damage the future of 80-90% of our children AND the economy, unknown to the public, covered up by stories from the school districts' large PR group. TO MORE INFORMATION. |
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: unless justified by agreed upon average ACT score increase, spending more than the approved budget must impact negatively half of the board's and superintendent's performance review.
The teachers are responsible for the results of students. Right?The poor quality public school results represent what teachers accomplish in the classrooms since grade one. IS THAT TRUE? The superintendent can suffocate the ability of teachers to do their best by creating bad morale with his decisions. That is what is happening. An excellent article on this subject: http://hubpages.com/hub/Are-Teachers-to-Blame-for-Our-Failing-Education-System. What do three high performing countries do to retain teachers long term? The chart below explains. See also What brings success in other countries?
Teacher morale is poor as evidenced by 250 teachers demonstrating in August and September, 2014 ( http://www.wate.com/story/23897839/knox-county-teachers-voice-opposition-to-new-evaluations). Generally, those who complain about working conditions represent only ten percent of those who feel that way. |
We need performance evaluation for everyone including teachers. The annual teacher performance evaluation needs to be fair. It is not fair today in 2014. The currently used one hour teacher observations four times per year are inadequate, unfair and can be prejudicial.
Objectives work only if they are measurable indicators of performance, if they are mutually supportive and related through all management levels, starting always at the top in an organization - not just on the bottom.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: Even more important than teacher objectives, we need an average ACT score objective AND a year to date monthly Expenses vs Budget objective for the board and superintendent with the ACT objective being 5% higher than the last average ACT score achieved, for performance evaluation purposes - as the only two primary objectives. Them writing up their own objectives and then writing their own performance review explains the poor results. They are not focused on ACT achievement and expense control. There is much more information of importance about teachers: click here. The suggestions that follow are for poorly performing national public education systems. They are not important for US public education systems that are doing well, e.g., above an average 25 ACT level. It is this average ACT score level that represents a higher than 80% readiness for job training or college or technical school entry counting from 9th grade. Isn't that the minimum that we should achieve?
It is the board that is in charge and is responsible for the results under the law. The superintendent, their only employee, is to make sure that the objective set by the board is met. Vague objectives will always be met especially if you do your own performance evaluation - and that is the case unfortunately. If the people in charge are not motivated to increase ACT scores with a specific average ACT score objective, there is no motivation and no results. They get paid just the same. That is what we have.
The above charts show Knox County, TN performance. One can see from such a high percentage of graduates not being ready, the results are very poor. Teacher morale is very low. The ACT tests show what students learn from grade one to twelve. Such a measurement, as a target score with growth since we are so low, should be the objective of boards of education and superintendents such that they are performance-reviewed based on a specific measurable ACT achievement. Numbers cannot lie. Teacher performance evaluation is faulty www.usaedustat.com/1teacherchallenges.html. Teachers are told what they have to do and how they have to do it in the classroom. Teachers have no power to control the classroom behavior and discipline cases of bad behavior. No one could do their best under such conditions and we need their best. The chart below shows Knox County, the State of Tennessee and the USA's performance for the past five years in average ACT score and job/college readiness.
We actually spend too much and generate poor results for it.
In the chart below "What % of column 1 is higher than column 2" refers to how much higher actual education-related spending is in column 1, than the "unapproved" public budget spending in column 2. Unfortunately the "approved" budget at the start of the school year did not appear in these reports in the Tennessee Dept of Education's Statistical Report to the governor. Clearly the "approved" budgets for school districts are of no importance - a very bad practice in spending discipline.
"TOTAL CURRENT EXPENDITURES" are what the school system presents in public as its budget before a school year starts. The approved budget for the Knox County School System for 2013 was $420 million. The public never saw in the papers actually how much they spent after the school year started. What they actually spent under "TOTAL CURRENT EXPENDITURES" was much higher, $474.9 million and published for the Governor in the 2013 Tennessee Statistical Report by the state education department in 2014. Who approved such overspending? It appears that there is no discipline and oversight associated with the budget to stay within it like the citizens and businesses have to do. What makes it even more disturbing is the fact that the act scores are so poor that 80-90% of those who entered 9th grade, leave high school unprepared to be employed. The public is simply not informed of this fact, and the school districts can have a pr staff to flood the public with positively sounding news. Source of financial information on spending is www.tn.gov/education/data/doc/asr_1213.pdf, Tables 48 and 49. See other Tables to see details of the totals.
Under a different heading called "GRAND TOTAL OF ALL EXPENDITURES" in the Statistical Report, Knox County Schools spent a whopping $560 million total, not $474.9 million as shown above, that includes capital and interest expenses the school system spent in 2013. But even this is not the total. For example, legal expenses spent on behalf of the school system is included in a different county cost center, and God only knows what else resides hidden anywhere else. WHY THE SECRECY? What other education related spending is hidden and where? It is very disturbing that it is virtually impossible to tell how much this education system is actually spending every year, AND ON WHAT.
Our point is that we do not see any reason for not publishing IN OUR NEWSPAPERS the entire amount of dollars this and other counties are spending for the education system.
The education system does not inform the public of the poor performance (e.g., the all time low record in average ACT score in Knox County, Tennessee in 2013), and at the same time the US is the fifth highest spender per student in education, which under "maintenance of effort" laws must be (?) maintained, regardless of performance. Knox County, Tennessee spends more money per student than the top twenty highest performing nations, except one, and their cost of living is higher. Education districts appear to have no incentive to investigate how to improve performance since their objective is not a specific average ACT (or SAT depending on the state) objective to be met along with school level operating plans that measure monthly academic performance objectives. The poor outcome is not surprising under such circumstances.
80-90% of the students who entered 9th grade are not ready per act's definition to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school. this is a very poor return on the public's investment, and warrants some thinking about what schools will stay open and will be closed.
More than 30 states cut back education spending since 2008. See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011. Even with such reductions in spending, the US is the fifth largest spender per student among the industrialized countries, with the lowest academic performance among those nations.
For more go to: http://www.usaedustat.com/12013spendingvsperformance.html|
Covering the bad results for the publicProposed programs costing additional tens of millions of dollars in each state by school district management, did not and do not deliver higher act or sat scores. They are the only tests that show the real end of high school results. Could these kinds of ineffective actions be accidental after more than 40 years? No, they cannot and they require uniform statewide control via laws.
SCHOOL DISTRICT PR CAPABILITIES: There has been a significant increase in PR professionals over past decades within school districts to present "good" news and make sure that the poor ACT or SAT results are kept from the tax-paying public who pay the bills.
This effort goes so far that school districts like knox county, Tennessee, distribute the pr capability over several different groups and "partnerships" to increase the number of pr people significantly, hoping that this increase would be hidden. Why cover up the results that count to the public who actually pay the taxes to fund their children's education? The management people make a good living in the school districts and do not want to risk that with bad news. There is no state requirement to promote or publish the tests that are more meaningful (ACT or SAT or NAEP) with the same or higher frequency than the weaker state tests that show higher scores because they are easier tests. The exception is the new Common Core Test and many oppose it for this reason only. The Common Core test results must be published to the public with its scores in the original form. New York State was the first to publish it in August 2013.
Teachers and principals work under poor conditions, with not enough authority and are autocratically managedThe school results SHOULD depend on the education, quality and motivation of teachers. They would, if:
We do not have all that as yet. The teachers' university performance is an important start and the best international countries in education do not hire teachers who are not in the top 1/3rd in their university performance - with a Masters degree in the field that they want to teach.
Management problems are rampant: this is the worst problem in our public education systemsPromotion to higher levels from teachers upward, are on the basis of friendships with someone in central management or nepotism, instead of being based on excellent job performance and readiness for the new job. Titles do not make a manager or supervisor, yet management training before promoting someone into a management or supervisory position is nonexistent in education. It is also rare to see a person among the elected school boards who have management experience even at the level of one tenth the size of the school district in number of employees and budget size annually who actually had experience producing good results. They are not trained in basic management skills like interviewing a person for a superintendent position, do not even realize the need for such a skill, and tend to hire superintendents in their own image and experience. It is very common to find superintendents without the management experience that would be required for the size of the school district.
The best indicators of good management are called OPERATING RATIOS, like "results" per dollar spent and they need to be within normal boundaries. Normal operating ratios are very important to maintain in large school districts especially, whereas in small school districts they may not apply as strictly. They are well documented in management books based on research. You will see some awful, unreasonable abuse in the chart below that explains why standards must exist in operating ratios. What you see in the chart below is typical of poor management, and it is extremely costly both directly and indirectly. For example too many people in central management compared to total employees can create huge problems. This area is generally stacked with friends and nepotism is not uncommon when they become large. At that point they protect their kingdom and survival most of all, create reasons and activities to justify their size and to make it even larger, and the management talent in education at the superintendent level is so rare that they generally are helpless with it. The results are outrageously aggressive hiring, late decisions, bad decisions and they become a major contributor to poor academic results. They also hide their size in various ways. One of the most common way is to publish under central management a minimum number of people but hiding carefully who is controlled by them and who report to them and not a school's management organization. If they are not directed by the management organization of a school, they will be directed by central management. The following chart shows some excellent examples from Knox County, Tennessee's school district, and it is shocking. Centralized management slows everything down. They can be and we experienced them threatening to teachers. They generally build walls between themselves and the schools and are autocratic in nature to defend their existence. The best way to improve performance is to delegate virtually all decision making to principals of the schools, like budget planning, preparation and progress management vs budget objective, educational progress management vs educational objectives, purchasing of supplies to meet teaching needs, accounting, personnel matters with hiring and firing decisions, discipline decisions and its delegation to teachers for effective classroom management, IT technical support, and school accounting, where the principal being responsible for delivering measurable results must be the decision maker, since school profiles and challenges will differ. There must be no interference from the superintendent if the principal makes decisions within the applicable policies for these functions.
The results of poor managementPoor ACT scores and ACT readiness percentage of regular diplomas; excessive spending in areas that do not contribute to ACT achievement. Are teachers treated without respect, unprofessionally, restricted in their jobs resulting in the poor ACT score results, fooling the public with higher scores from the much weaker state tests, unemployable high school graduates in large numbers like more than 75% of those with a regular diploma not being ready to be trained for a job. Teachers have very low morale. People with low morale cannot do their best. There are major problems in the classroom that remain unsolved because teachers are given no authority to solve them. Vague unmeasurable objectives on the board and superintendent level, politics replacing real performance and achievement of real objectives like an average ACT or SAT score; covering up of bad news about the important tests because their scores are poor; and publishing only news for the public that sounds positive is actually very damaging. As an end result, such school districts produce the majority of high school graduates WITH A REGULAR HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA, such that 74-90%+ of the students (depending on the state) with a regular diploma are NOT EVEN READY TO BE TRAINED FOR A JOB according to ACT. All of this is created by school districts that are managed very poorly on the elected board and superintendent level. The great majority are like that unfortunately. THEY ARE ACTUALLY CREATING AND RUNNING FAILURE FACTORIES, INSTEAD OF GRADUATES DEVELOPED READY FOR JOBS OR FURTHER EDUCATION. http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/12/broads-jim-mcintyre-gets-2-earfuls-from.html.
The needed improvement of our education results depends on how quickly we will recognize both our management and teacher challenges, and act to solve them all at the earliest. When 250 teachers show up at a board meeting, in an autocratically managed school district, that is very significant. In business, if you see a complaint, there are more than ten behind it with the same feelings who did not want to go public. That makes this entire school district's teachers very dissatisfied: http://www.wate.com/story/23897839/knox-county-teachers-voice-opposition-to-new-evaluations.
With the skyrocketing spending and no improvement in results since 1970, nothing like this happens accidentally and uncorrected for 5 years, let alone for more than 40 years.
Everyone should read "Rising
Above The Gathering Storm Revisited" - prepared by The
National Academy Of Sciences, 2010 for the President of the USA
by request. We are all in trouble, especially states like
Please look at this eighth grade test from 1912. How many eight graders could pass it today? We would recommend for reading OECD-PISA's analysis of US academic performance at http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/PISA-2012-results-US.pdf. This organization tests the best educational performers internationally with 34 member countries, plus associate countries totaling 65 countries in total. The following article presents a broad and accurate overview of worldwide education spending and performance and how we fit into it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/oecd-education-report_n_3496875.html.
Please note that older information indicated that the US was the second largest spender per student and 32nd in mathematics of 65 countries. The 2012 OECD-PISA test results published in December 2013 indicates that the US is the 5th largest spender per student, and 36th in mathematics of 65 countries.
We became the fifth highest spending nation per student in 2013, with the lowest scores among the industrialized countries
According to the World Economic Forum, the US dropped to 47th of 138 nations in 2013 in math and science readiness when graduating from high school, although the US EDUCATION SYSTEM is 28th in CAPABILITY to deliver a suitable workforce (http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GITR_Report_2013.pdf, page 279).
Since December 2012 the US ranks below the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average (international testing that covers high school achievement results in 65 member and associate member countries) in every category. And as the WSJ notes, the US has slipped in all of the major categories in recent years.
The results from the 2012 OECD-PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests, That were released December 2013, show that teenagers in the US slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009 (of the OECD member countries only, 36th of all those tested); from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the US. Often the us result is shown within the oecd member countries only to show a better ranking, such as 31st in this case in math instead of 36th with all 65 participating countries.
Here are the top 36 countries of the 65 total in each of three subject areas tested:
Is lack of enough money spent on education our problem in the usa?
It appears that we keep dropping lower in education results every year, and we are very low now. Is it because we do not spend enough money per student on education? No, because we are the 5th largest spender per student.
When an organization produces bad products, such that more than 79% of the products produced do not work; and the same poor results just keep repeating for more than a decade; one would have to be insane to keep them operating the same way as they did for years. Amazingly there are no financial obstacles for such a poorly performing organization in one field: education. We just keep paying them OUR money. THOSE WHO APPROVE IT DO NOT CARE. They do not even commit to achieving an average ACT score each year that is the state standard and measures accurately what children have learned from grade one to twelve, and how ready they are for learning a job or at least doing a year of college or tech school.
Within the united states:In high school results we are on the bottom of the industrialized nations, with 74% of of those with a regular high school diploma not being ready to be trained for a job in 2013 according to ACT's report. Reference: http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html. The ACT has several decades of reliable history of measuring student performance. It's current "readiness" benchmark for job training or to have a 75% chance to finish the first year of college or tech school only requires a specific minimum grade achievement in four subjects.
The charts below show the average 2013 ACT score rankings by state.
The SAT is the second most popular test at the end of high school to indicate the quality of education received. The state-by-state SAT results are at http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog/detail/sat-scores-by-state-2013. |
PARCC is a new test that focuses its conclusions on English and Math test results. PARCC is formed by a few former Achieve Inc employees who developed the American Diploma Project to improve education in 2009, and people from US public education. PARCC has been established to compete with the Common Core Curriculum and its test which is a continuation of the American Diploma Project. PARCC supporters are typically those who are against the Common Core Curriculum and test. The Common Core Curriculum is an effort of Achieve Inc (former governors and business leaders) and ACT.
The NAEP is a long standing national test given every other year. It's rigor/strength is similar to the ACT and SAT. The following chart shows the NAEP test result about how poorly we have done in elementary education during 2012-2013. 42-58% performance range is an "F" OVER A SIX YEAR PERIOD, although in 2013 Tennessee showed the highest NAEP improvement in the US growing to just under US average. What is important is what level of knowledge our schools deliver to our children, and that not above 90% but under 60%. The NAEP rigor is in the same class as the ACT and SAT. Children enter high school with a poor foundation, especially in basic math and reading. As the graph indicates, this is poor performance followed by poor high school performance with 74% and 82% of high school graduates in 2013 in the US and in Tennessee respectively, with this large percentage of students with regular diploma not even ready to be trained for a job according to ACT's 2006 and 2009 definition of readiness. Very poor performance.
We have a unique situation in that US education results are very poor and keep going down compared to the international competition, our workforce is weakening so much that attracting employers with tax incentives no longer works in the lower performing states. If we do not improve significantly, we could end up discouraging all employers who are able to move elsewhere.|
On what basis can anyone condone, and approve (as a county Commissioner or mayor) monies of the people to be spent in hundreds of millions of dollars every year, without demanding that an ACT score objective be met for such monies that is at least 5% higher than the last average ACT score achieved, and that such an objective also be made THE board's and superintendent's performance objective, counting at least 60% of their annual performance evaluation?
“Things may come to those who wait...but only the things left by those who hustle.”
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!!"
Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, 1776
New York is one of the best performing states in education in the USA. The best example for excellent inner city performance is a charter school network called the Success Academies in New York City. See also THIS. In 2006 a charter school was formed in Harlem, NYC, the Harlem Success Academy, that scored 5th and 6th in reading and math tests in New York State by 2009. The inner city parents, who many think do not care, beat their doors down to get their children into this school. In December 2013 they have 20 schools with approximately 80% black children, the rest Hispanics, all from poor families, with plans to open 100 by the end of this decade (up from 40 in the original plan). New York State was the first to publish to the public the new Common Core Test results in August 2013. The Common Core Test scores are published unadulterated by law, without "cut scores" that are normally used with state tests to show higher scores (like a 45% score is presented as a "B"). New York State published them first in August 2013 (47 states will do so by 2015). Reference: http://excelined.org/common-core-toolkit/information-common-misconceptions/.
The public was shocked with average public school performance in the 35-45% area with New York State's Common Core test results in 2013. But the Harlem Success Academy, now called Success Academies (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3) scored more than twice as high, with poor inner city children. What is important to note is that this school has a proprietary continuing teacher education program in place. Why don't our state public school leaders learn from the top international and domestic performers? They all produce superior performance with less spending per student.
The public was and is not made aware of our disastrous performance WITH THEIR MONEY. But they were informed of all news that sounds/looks good, however insignificant, via newspapers and media.
The outcome for our survival depends on whether or not the public will become aware of the truth or not, because public support is essential for any change. So far the public was not given the information that shows how poorly we are doing, and what that will do to the upcoming generation's life.
"Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Lenin (1870 - 1924)
Is a good grade or grade-improvement promoted by a school district or newspaper or the media always means the truth about our children's education?
Are articles in the local newspapers, that are telling the population how great a job the school district is doing, always truthful and tell the entire truth?
Unfortunately, not. Positive comments about state test-based scores are meaningless, except for Florida. Florida's state test rigor is in the ACT, SAT, NAEP rigor whereas other state tests are much weaker. Such state tests are weak for the purpose of showing higher grades, and the difference is so great that an A or B grade can mean a failure in reality. Such tests are used to qualify for federal aid dollars and to create the impression for the public that the school system is doing well, when in fact it is doing poorly.
The national test results (ACT, SAT, NAEP) on the other hand represent the students' knowledge correctly as it relates to becoming employable or entering a college or technical school after high school, or being internationally compatible. There is a very important good news in Tennessee in 2013: the NAEP test results for grades 4 and 8 have improved more than any other state, coming close to national average, setting an all time high for the state (http://www.niet.org/niet-newsroom/niet-press-releases/statement-from-the-national-institute-for-excellence-in-teaching-on-the-2013-naep-results/ and http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/).
Many of the new Tennessee elementary school standards are working. The NAEP represents high rigor testing every other year and its improved record setting scores are much more significant than the much weaker state test scores called the TCAP.
GRADE IMPROVEMENT sounds positive, but it may or may not be important. The maximum ACT score is 36. As the average ACT score increases, it does not represent a proportional increase in the regular diploma holders' readiness to be ready to be trained for a job. For example, an average ACT score of 21 means that only about 20% of those with a regular diploma will be ready to be trained for a job, and 80% will NOT be ready to be trained for a job. But the situation changes fast once we get the average ACT score above 22. To achieve an 80% readiness for job training or to finish only the first year of college or a technical school those with a regular diploma would need to be close to an average ACT score of 24. Job trainability readiness that it is not something to celebrate. A 0.5-1.0 average ACT increase at the lower numbers do not change job training readiness much. But such a change above an average ACT score of 22-23 brings big improvement in the "readiness" percentage of regular diplomas for job or college training.
Unfortunately our poorly performing school districts make any improvement positive news, sometimes so extreme that a publisher in Knoxville, Tennessee called the superintendent a Miracle Maker for an A or B Tennessee state test result that is absolutely meaningless. The Tennessee state test (TCAP not the NAEP) is too easy in order to produce high grades, but in reality it represents F level performance for a 45-50% score when compared to ACT's measurement for job or college readiness; not an A or B. Under the same superintendent also in 2013 we set an all time low record in the average ACT score at 20.2 that represents only 21% of the regular diplomas being ready for job training or to complete only the first year of college or a tech school; with 79% of those graduates with a regular diploma not being ready. They are minimum wage candidates. But the publisher chose not to mention that, when the ACT score was the more important information. This is what journalism has become in many places. We are presenting that article as an example further down below. The point is that the public is informed only by what appears to be good news, but they are not told about the bad results that really count. One can legitimately wonder why such journalism misrepresents the results coming out of our schools, when we, the public, are paying for it.
What is happening to our work force?Look below at the chart that shows how our workforce is bleeding out; the results of our poorly managed school districts: the increase in people since 1990 who are no longer in the work force.
The following chart shows a disturbing increase since 1990 in those people who are without a job, a better measure than unemployment figures based on who receives unemployment benefits. This increase corresponds also to the education and workforce quality downturn long term. Source: US payroll dropout reports.
Our leaders talk about job creation a lot, but the fact is that no employer will hire anyone unqualified/insufficiently educated for any job. This is true today and in the future for all new jobs. No employer will offer a job unless the candidate has a job history with good references, education and experience to guarantee that such a potential employee will be able to do an excellent job. Job openings do exist. Well enough educated potential employees need to exist FIRST before an employer can offer a job. They do not exist in sufficient numbers thanks to the poor results our public elementary and high schools are delivering - with very few exceptions. We are certainly spending enough money on them.
WHY WE MUST IMPROVE URGENTLY: It Is A Good Idea To Peak Into The Future With The Videos Below To Understand Why Better Education Than What We Currently Have Is Absolutely Vital For The Future Existence Of Our Children.
Dr. Michio Kaku, world famous scientist, in "America has a secret weapon":
What will the future look like? The reason for more education:
...and if you would like to understand more about the future in depth, here is Dr. Kurzweil, a world famous scientist.
Copyright(c) 2008-2014 V. Spencer
This is a work in progress.