Student results are limited by the teachers' ability to teach a subject in an excellent manner, and the school district's management allowing and helping the teachers to do their best. John Merrow, PBS: "Schools underpay and mistreat teachers and eventually drive them from the profession; inept school districts cannot find the qualified teachers living under their noses, and substandard training ill prepares educators for the realities of classroom life".
This website is based on published ACT (American College Testing, Inc.) results for the USA and OECD PISA reports for international data (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development - Programme for International Student Development), in addition to other named publications below. We made an attempt to identify all sources and examples here for the website to be clear to all readers and consolidated the data in charts to show trends. The ACT shows what children learned from grade one to twelve. See ACT scores explained
. Unfortunately, the downtrend of high school results deteriorated to 80% or more, of the students who entered 9th grade in the State of Tennessee (or 76% average in the USA). All these children are not ready for job training and do not have a chance to finish the first year of a tech school or college according to ACT. This trend has been decreasing the quality of the workforce, and THAT presents a danger to our employers and the USA itself. This downward progression in education has been going on for more than 40 years.
It may be of interest for you to look at this 8th-grade test from 1912 from Shepherdsville, KY
. It is an interesting experience. Remember that they did not have calculators. Could you answer each question? What percentage of our 8th-grade students could pass it today? How about high school students?
The public who pays for it all does not get the entire truth. "A half-truth is a whole lie" - says a proverb. We were on top in 1970. Today we graduate our children to becoming part of our nation that dropped to 36th in high school math results in the world (OECD-PISA). That's a huge drop that affects our children's lives negatively, makes our workforce weaker and many more of our companies less successful against international competitors. We hear from more and more company executives who are becoming so concerned that they are setting aside funding to relocate to places where a better-trained workforce is available. Our governors know about this, but do nothing that increases the ACT (or SAT) scores - and that is what counts. Our elected school boards do not want ACT or SAT score objectives because they don't know how to focus the organization to achieve them. Their voting majority, in more than 13,500 school districts nationally, is not trained and experienced enough in management to interview and select the right superintendent and to guide the school districts to better results. It is not possible to achieve higher ACT or SAT scores unless a school district is focused via an objective on a higher ACT or SAT score than what was previously achieved. Also needed an operating plan in which all management or supervisory people, in every school, have performance objectives to achieve that contribute to the ACT or SAT objective of the school district. Such objectives must support the board's, superintendents' and managers'/supervisors' annual performance evaluation. We have poor results because such objectives and operating plans do not exist. The results speak louder than what the school districts' PR groups present.
The graph below shows a very bad situation. We graduate from high school about 3.7 million children. Three quarters of them each year are "ACT Unready" nationally. Some groups and states are much worse. That means not ready for job training or to enter a college or tech school, unless it is for remedial training that makes up what they did not learn in high school. At the same time we have three million jobs unfilled (http://staffingtalk.com/3-million-unfilled-job-openings-america/) because employers cannot find potential employees with the qualifications they need. The chart's data is based on ACT's Readiness Reports between 2014 and 2010 about students who earned a HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA. More than 50% of ANY demographic group is NOT PREPARED WELL ENOUGH BY THE HIGH SCHOOLS for job training, or to have a chance, just a chance, to finish the first year of a college or tech school only. See ACT scores explained.This poor performance goes back many decades. What do you think will happen to our children and grandchildren in such huge numbers? This is like a powder keg, ready to explode. What is much worse is the fact nationally that 95% of our black children with a regular high school diploma are also not ready! 95%! In Tennessee it is 98%. WE HAVE CREATED A SITUATION THAT CAN BLOW UP ANY TIME, unless we fix public education fast, grades one to twelve, with a sense of urgency. Not just "patching" by providing an additional two years of education with a program created by the Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam. That just puts more financial burden on the public instead of fixing the real problem: poor performance from grade one to twelve. A patch will not correct but a small percentage of the 80%+ ACT Unreadiness, the system's failure rate. It is the K12 system itself that needs fixing. See: Our educational decline has been jeopardizing our national security.
Take a hard look again at the above graph. All these children are not ready for job training and do not have a chance to finish the first year of a tech school or college according to ACT. This trend has been decreasing the quality of the workforce, and THAT presents a danger to our employers and the USA itself. This downward progression in education has been going on for more than 40 years.
This is likely to become the fuse in this "powder keg", that our state departments of education and elected school boards in our school districts allowed to happen, unknowingly. Before anyone says that improvement is not possible, a charter school system called Success Academy Schools in New York City with 32 schools and poor inner city black children, scored in the top one percent in mathematics in the New York State Common Core tests in 2014. They beat the majority of all state public AND private schools
(Success Academy Schools of New York City 1
, Success Academy Schools of New York City 2
, A virtual tour
). The big difference between a charter school and a public school is the board of education who are in charge. In a charter school, they are appointed by the school system management and there should be no connection to or influence from the public school district management. In a public school district, the board is elected. The results mirror the quality of the voting majority on these boards. New York State is the fifth highest performer in the USA. In our opinion, we are facing a national emergency. No one took sufficient action in any state's leadership to raise the ACT (or SAT) scores, yet the Success Academy Schools clearly show what can be accomplished! At what average ACT score level should we be to be ACT Ready for a job or to enter a college? Assuming 80% ACT readiness (note that we are 80%+ ACT UNready) of high school graduates, an average ACT score of 25.5 to 26.5 would be needed, instead of 21 nationally and close to it in other states. We are performing poorly. We are not doing as well as the school district PR groups tell us through the local newspapers. The education laws allow the school districts to conduct their business in any manner whatsoever. They get fully funded anyway. They don't have to be competitive. The public has to be reasonably satisfied, and the school district PR Groups can achieve that. Lenin, the father of "disinformation" theory said that "A lie mentioned often enough "becomes" the truth." A group can get away with it only until the majority discovers that their children cannot get a job. That moment is close.
The ELECTED board of education is totally in charge of all decisions in any public school district under the state laws. The responsible people for the poor results with our children are JAMES MCINTYRE superintendent and board chairs, if they have majority support, INDYA KINCANNON, KAREN CARSON, LYNNE FUGATE, AND MIKE MACMILLAN.
As an example, according to ACT, during the last seven years 79% OR MORE OF OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN WHO ENTERED 9TH GRADE, WERE/ARE NOT READY TO BE TRAINED FOR A JOB AFTER LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL IN KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE. IT IS WORSE IN THE STATE OF TENNESSEE. THE USA AVERAGE IS ONLY SLIGHTLY BETTER. A typical slogan of Jim McIntyre superintendent in the Knox County, Tennessee school districts is: "WE ARE DOING GREAT THINGS, SETTING NEW RECORDS, WITH EXCELLENCE FOR ALL CHILDREN!". This is not true. There is no excellence for all children with the above ACT Unreadiness that the superintendent keeps from the public. There is no excellence, period. See the actual record above and in other charts below.
"Educational failure puts the United States' future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk", warns the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force, chaired by Joel I. Klein, former head of New York City public schools, and Condoleezza Rice, Director, Stanford University, former U.S. secretary of state. The country "will not be able to keep pace - much less lead - globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long," argues the Task Force. US Education is a national security problem.
Click on the picture to read the article.
The above graph shows how our spending per student and the number of employees hired by school districts increased since 1970, but the results did not. At the same time the world became more technical, robotics and software automation replaced a lot of low-end jobs, and the job requirements increased. That means that the public's general knowledge went down compared to the increase in knowledge that jobs required later. Education contributed to date by delivering lower and lower results than what jobs required. Although we have many smart people, overall the education system dumbed us down. A school system in New York (32 school Success Academy Schools) proves that becoming one of the best INTERNATIONALLY is very possible. Of the black inner city students, only 1-2% are ACT-ready to be trained for a job out of high school everywhere generally. Such students, with a 32-school chain called Success Academy Schools of NYC, scored in the top 1% in math and top 3% in English in the entire State of New York, in its Common Core tests, passing not only most public schools but private schools as well. That result is within top ten international performance. (Success Academy Schools of New York City 1
, Success Academy Schools of New York City 2
, A virtual tour
). So excellence is achievable even with the most challenging students, but not the way we manage education with hundred-year-old methods when the rest of the world improved and modernized.
In Tennessee, more than 80% of our children not being ready to be trained for a job according to ACT is very important in our opinion. This situation is a powder keg. 98% OF BLACK STUDENTS ARE ALSO NOT READY IN TENNESSEE TO BE TRAINED FOR A JOB OR TO ENTER A TECH SCHOOL OR UNIVERSITY EVEN FOR A YEAR. WE ARE CREATING A SITUATION THAT CAN BLOW UP ANY TIME, unless we fix public education fast, grades one to twelve, with a sense of urgency. Not just "patching" by providing an additional two years of education. That just puts more financial burden on the public instead of fixing the real problem: poor performance from grade one to twelve. A patch will not correct but a small percentage of the 80%+ ACT Unreadiness, the system's failure rate.
It is the K12 system itself that needs fixing. Such a fix will certainly create job losses in education, for example in the school districts' bloated central management, in poorly performing people who cannot improve the poor results, and in people whose job makes no difference in ACT or SAT achievement. See: Our educational decline has been jeopardizing our national security.
How does the ACT Readiness of high school graduates in public education relate to America's future economic success as a nation?
American education has declined since 1970.
Our companies in all industries are concerned about the quality of the workforce our schools produce. Many are holding on to cash because they may have to relocate to areas with the quality workforce that they need and cannot find here.
- America's future success depends on the competitive products and services of its industries.
- The world has become a market place for anyone with competitive products and services. The US used to dominate the world market before the 1980's.
- The success of each of our industries in the world market depends on the competitiveness of the products and/or services of the companies that make up that industry.
- The competitiveness of the products or services depend on the education and experience of the workforce in any company, in any industry, in any country. Workforce means all jobs from those who design the great products or services to those who make them, sell them and service them.
- A company with an excellent, well educated work force creates competitive products that many customers want in many countries. A company with a poorly educated workforce cannot produce products that appeal to many customers, and the company struggles.
This is our national problem.
Unfortunately it appears that no one in a state or country leadership position has been or is acting effectively to increase the ACT (or Scholastic Aptitude Test, SAT) scores. These tests are the key indicators of what students learn from grade one to twelve in Tennessee and other states. As an example in Knox County, Tennessee, more than 80% of our children who entered 9th grade, have been and are leaving high school unprepared to be trained for a job, or to finish even the first year of a college or tech school.
See ACT scores explained
. According to community college professors, as much as two years of remedial college study is required to start the first year of a college freshman program, because of poor public high school performance. Nationally the figure is a little better
. A major issue is 98% of black students being unprepared for a job after high school in Knox County, Tennessee (95% nationally). IMAGINE SO MANY UNEMPLOYABLE YOUNG PEOPLE ON THE STREETS. WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN? YOU SHOULD BE SCARED. However, a charter school system called Success Academy Schools in New York City with 32 schools and poor inner city black children, scored in the top one percent in the New York State Common Core tests in 2014, beating the majority of all state public AND private schools (Success Academy Schools of New York City 1
, Success Academy Schools of New York City 2
). New York State is the fifth highest performer in the USA. Tennessee is close to the bottom. Clearly something is very wrong and major changes are needed in the public school systems in the way our school districts are managed.
The ELECTED board of education is totally in charge of all decisions under the state law. The people who are responsible for the poor results in Knox County, TN, are JAMES MCINTYRE superintendent, and board of education chairs, if majority supported, INDYA KINCANNON, KAREN CARSON, LYNNE FUGATE, MIKE MACMILLAN.
In 2014, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States 49th in quality of mathematics and science education of 148 nations. World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014
. We used to be among the top nations in 1970.
OECD PISA tests 65 nations' 15-year olds
(includes OECD plus partner countries for taking PISA; partner countries are excluded to make us look better in many reports) every three years. The USA dropped to a new low of 36th in mathematics in the 2012 Dec. OECD PISA test published in 2013
. We used to be among the top nations in 1970.
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
, Page 3). Our example, Tennessee is close to last in the USA, worse than Massachusetts. The curriculum to get a high school diploma is more rigorous in the top 20 countries than ours. In most of them the curriculum defines what each course is to achieve by year end and the teachers who have a Master's degree in the subject they teach, decide individually what and how they will teach and in what sequence to achieve the curriculum requirement. US teachers generally do not. International teachers come from the top 10-30% of their Master's program in the subject that they will teach. US teachers come from the bottom 30% of their classes with an education degree (BA or BS) that covers a little of a number of subjects. In US school districts one often finds teachers switched to teach a subject in which they had no training. We have some work to do. US teachers not only start with a handicap but are managed so poorly that their morale is suffering. THAT is a very bad combination for creating successful high school graduates in large enough numbers.
The most important outcome of K-12 education (grades 1 to 12) is to have at least 80% students who entered 9th grade prepared to be employed or ready for the next level of job or university training. Currently in 2015, less than 20% are ready in Tennessee, and 24% US wide.
If not employable with enough income to live on, he/she will have a terrible life. We have been creating too many such children leaving high school. The ACT has been shown to be a reliable measure of those outcomes yet we have not included it in our education district's objectives. Instead, school districts use vague objectives and give themselves excellent ratings to mask the poor performance from the public. A goal must be to lower the current 80%+ ACT (average score 20.4) UNREADINESS/FAILURE RATE, counting from 9th-grade entry of those leaving high school. We must lower the ACT Unreadiness to 20% to be competitive. See ACT scores explained
. "UNREADINESS" means no tech school, college or trade job training possibility, with minimum wage opportunity only, most of which will be replaced by cognitive robotics, a new class of robots, by 2020-2022. 20% ACT UNREADINESS would require a 25.5 to 26.5 ACT average. A 5% average ACT score increase per year until an acceptable performance is reached seems minimal and reasonable. Also reasonable would be tying the superintendent's performance review to something measurable such as this minimal 5% ACT increase. As of now the Knox County, Tennessee 5-year strategic plan created by James McIntyre, superintendent, is filled with unmeasurable goals and objectives that are assuring poor results year after year. It is full of claims that are not true like "Excellence for all children". Go to example of Knox Couny, Tennessee School System objectives
Experts predict robots will take over 30% of our jobs by 2025.
The start will be gradual from 2016. That means that 25% of today's high school graduates who are ACT Ready (that is less than 20% of those who entered 9th grade), will not have but only ten years of working life unless they increase their job-related knowledge beyond what the job requirements are at any one time. Job requirements have always increased and will continue to increase faster. We cannot keep saying that some people are just not suited for college. Unless they are seriously learning disabled, it is not true. It is the poor high school education that MAKES THEM LOOK LIKE NOT SUITED FOR COLLEGE. A big difference. College education will be the way to have the needed knowledge. The time will come when a graduate degree in demand will be needed to ensure a normal working life. Those 80%+ who are not ACT Ready today, will become jobless faster unless they keep improving their education to stay in knowledge above the cognitive robots that can communicate, understand, learn and make decisions. I noticed during the 1980s that it was common practice in Japan for the large Japanese companies to support employees to obtain an advanced degree.
Experts believe that one third of jobs will be replaced by robots within ten years
. Computers making decisions, robotics
Many complain about our public schools' performance, or others' suggestion for a solution, but do not suggest a remedy for ANY problem.
For example, some are so unrealistic that they object to expanding "schools for profit", or charter schools or private schools. Most private schools cost less per student than public schools. Private schools deliver 90-100% ACT READINESS after high school, when public school ACT READINESS is a terrible 2-24% only for more money per student than the cost of many private schools. In view of the poor public school performance, our objective needs to be to deliver more than 80% READINESS per ACT's definition instead of the 2-24% delivered by our public high schools today in 2015. If the public schools cannot improve dramatically, as they have not improved for decades with few exceptions, then why object to ANY solution whose result is superior AND costs the public less per student?
What is more important?
Some say that private or charter schools do not have to take all children, but public schools do, and that is why public school results are worse (80%+ ACT Unreadiness upon graduation in public schools vs. 10% or less ACT Unreadiness in private schools.). Some also claim that charter and private schools take money away from public schools leaving only the poor performers. Public schools get funding based on the number of students they have. The US is the fifth largest spender per student in the world (OECD PISA data) creating the 36th result in math. With 80%+ of those leaving our high schools not being ACT Ready, we need other schools that can create better results than most of our public schools do. Parents deserve the right to send their children to the best schools and we feel that the per student allocation of about $10,000 for public schools should be transferable to a school of parental choice. We need competition among schools and let the best performers get the money by parental choice. If a public schools poor performance becomes worse because of this, then let them figure out how to become better.
My child getting a good education to ensure his/her future?
Or to ensure the public schools' survival when 80% of those attending it are not going to be ready to get a job? Why do we allow such public schools to continue operating at public expense? Close them. Why do we allow excuses to be made for such poor performing public schools instead of making changes to improve their results to acceptable levels? Why does anyone have to complain about the Gates Foundation, or charter schools or vouchers? Just do a better job so that we don't need them. Makes sense?
THE OBJECTIVE MUST BE TO DELIVER BETTER EDUCATED CHILDREN WHO ARE READY TO BE JOB-TRAINED OR GO TO COLLEGE OR A TECHNICAL SCHOOL.
THE OBJECTIVE SHOULD NOT BE TO PRESERVE POORLY PERFORMING SCHOOLS (PUBLIC, PRIVATE OR CHARTER).
There are too many children in our public schools who do not work hard, and create discipline problems all of which are destructive to entire classes of children in a school for a day or more. They can throw things at a teacher and be destructive, but the schools are soft on them. They are sent home one day and they come back the next, a role model to some others. The parents, in contrast to a few decades ago, believe "little Johnny", because "my little Johnny doesn't lie to me". The little Johnnies have a bad attitude, feel that they are entitled to everything, believe that they are the best, and do not feel that they actually have to do a good job. At the same time the jobs and the job market became a lot tougher than a few years ago. We are producing poorly performing kids with a bad attitude for a tougher job environment. HAVE WE GONE CRAZY?!
No wonder we have three million jobs unfilled (http://staffingtalk.com/3-million-unfilled-job-openings-america/), and we have millions of kids who are unemployable. Perhaps a different institution needs to be established for such children - AND the schools need to be intolerant of bad behavior.
Our public school results are poor and we cannot afford to be all things to all parents or children with our schools if we want better results and a better workforce. Public schools must be for learning at the highest level and not for being a baby sitting service. If public schools cannot change fast enough, then we need the voucher system for ALL parents in order for them to have the option to send their child to ANY school: public, private or charter school, in order to get the best education possible for their children.
After all, they are paying for it through their taxes. Look at the Success Academy Schools of NYC (Success Academy Schools of New York City 1
, Success Academy Schools of New York City 2
). 32 schools, all poor black minority children, who scored in the top one percent in the State of New York. And our black children have only a 2% readiness per ACT to be employable? Obviously we could do much better with better boards and superintendents.
The state laws delegate to elected boards of education, all rights to all decisions. That includes funding guaranteed to be at minimum the same as the previous school year's spending, regardless of results. The board's voting majority was neither educated nor experienced in managing more than a handful people at best. The board interviews and hires a superintendent who is to manage the education district to successful results, with school district employees from 100 to 10,000. That is a big management job. Running for the board requires a high school diploma. The ACT "Unreadiness" figures attest to the fact that elected boards never hired a successful superintendent or misdirected him/her, with very few exceptions. That is why public school results are poor. Hiring the right person as a superintendent requires substantial management training and experience, that elected boards just do not have. The states do not provide management guidelines to boards of education. Such guidelines would cover important things like what objectives should be, what operating plans must cover, what sound operating ratios to maintain (e.g., percentage of total central management employees to total number of employees in the school district, or minimum number of students per administrator, and so on) for both board and superintendent performance evaluation purposes. It would be helpful to provide a guide about how to interview superintendent candidates.
Our school systems are failing 80% of our children as previously described. What would you do if in the only hospital available to you to take your sick child, 80% of children became infected with an incurable debilitating infection? Would you be very concerned? This analogy is better than you think right now. More than 80% of those children who enter public school in grade 9 are "dead" from the career point of view when leaving high school. You should be very concerned.
A close second to improving ACT Readiness is improving the low teacher morale. How can we achieve the best results with children if teacher morale is poor?
The board and superintendent must resolve such things by giving teachers full authority in the classroom to rule immediately on any discipline problem such that the child will not repeat it, and by reducing activities that cut down on teaching time such as paperwork, and tests beyond the state requirement. Turnover in any job with a college education background costs many months of the salary and benefits of those employees who are leaving. Maintaining high morale is essential for the best possible student results and for preventing unnecessary spending that is the result of mistakes in selecting and keeping employees at all levels who cannot do their job well.
In more detail:
NOTE: What do you think the end result will be if the state itself sets the performance goals for school districts, when the state is even a worse performer? Unfortunately it is common in poorly performing organizations to set low objectives and targets. Tennessee is not an exception.
The professional PR people in our public education districts do not tell the public the entire truth. A proverb says: "A half truth is a whole lie". They create a much better impression of performance for the public than the truth is. This is dishonest, deceptive behavior when done to those who are paying the huge bill of public education with their hard-earned tax dollars: THE PUBLIC. It is inexcusable, especially when the public is burdened to pay for an 80%+ failure rate of their sons and daughters.
They also create the impression that we need more money when we are the 5th largest spender per student in the world producing one of the poorest results among industrialized nations: 36th. We used to be on top in 1970. Recovery to a more competitive position becomes disproportionately more difficult in anything, once you fall below tenth.
Jobs in the future will require a more educated workforce than today. The job requirements have always increased with new tools, technology, software automation and robotics. Instead, we are and have been developing less-educated people in increasing numbers, who are unmotivated, unable to learn a job after high school and have a bad attitude. In addition we treat our children softly both at home and in school, children who use abusive language with teachers, and we do this in preparation for a much tougher world after high school, that will not tolerate such behavior.
There are a few US schools and 35 countries (OECD-PISA the US is 36th) who produce better results than we do and we are not interested in how the top ones are achieving that. Management training and experience at the appropriate levels in school districts does not exist, AND THIS IS ITS RESULT.
Between 2008 and 2014, the children who are untrainable for jobs beyond minimum wage averaged above 80% of those students who enter Knox County, TN high schools in 9th grade. As if those were not bad enough, Tennessee's statewide results were even worse at 89%. US results were 76%. 9 out of 10 children who entered 9th grade in Tennessee will leave high school marginally employable, close to minimum wage until their job will be replaced by cognitive robots in a couple of years.
Please go through the verification of ACT reports to understand this situation. The job done by the state education department, state leadership and our school districts caused this situation. I wonder if our state education department has ever given any thought to how poorly we are preparing the young generation, its consequences on our economy and survival as a state. Obviously no one lost any sleep over this matter. More than six letters to Governor Bill Haslam went unanswered or perhaps were transferred to the education department, who have also been unable to answer any questions about this situation since 2010.
Look below what McDonalds and others are moving to in 2015. They are not the only ones.
McDonalds move toward robotics: Customers love them. They're quick, easy, and customers avoid all the "wad U say" frustrations. They get orders in, get their food the way they want it, and they're on their way.
That's fast food. And odd enough, people SPEND more when they're on kiosks. The Harvard Business Review said they found the average check size was 30% higher. They found that 20% of customers who didn't initially order a drink would buy one when it was offered. The result is: no more $15 minimum wage earners for taking orders.
We permit classroom behaviors with very light punishment that obstruct teacher effort and disturb all students in that class for at least a day. For example, a student threw feces at a teacher during class as he returned from the men's room. The punishment by the principal was sending him home after the principal "cross-examined" the teacher and the offender in his office. The teacher and offending student "cross examination" together destroys the teacher's authority further. The next day the offender came to school and now he had five more followers in misbehavior in the same class. Making a hero out of the offender as we do with light punishment is very foolish. One cannot help but wonder about the people being employed in decision making position in the state department of education and in the education districts themselves. I cannot get over the cross examination of the teacher and guilty student simultaneously.
All of the above reduces effective teaching time. We need a continuing education program in most subjects, as other countries are doing to create more excellent teachers.
- It reduces the ability of any teacher to teach these underperforming or ill behaved children.
- Offenders take great pleasure in insulting teachers, and even hitting them. The teacher becomes the "punching" bag for bad children. The light punishment makes it cheap entertainment, elevating the offender's image to his/her friends.
- American teachers have to do: the most classroom hours in the world, the most paperwork, and the most tests. However, they have no authority to instantly rule on discipline problems. That is what teachers need to keep the teachers' image and authority high in the eyes of students.
- There are many good teachers and some who would be more successful in another profession. There is vocational match-testing for teaching in many countries at the university level but not in the US. Two tests correlated in the US would do an excellent job in this area: the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Intelligence Inventory. Unfortunately, we have many teachers who chose teaching as their major in college because the original major they picked was too hard. Many US colleges and universities have a weak curriculum for a degree in teaching. Within our school districts, teachers are transferred from the class where they know the subject to teach classes for which they had no training. In the high-performing countries a teacher above 4th grade has a master's degree in the subject in order to teach that subject. Our situation requires continuing education support for teachers. In Knox County, Tennessee the superintendent stopped supporting teachers to obtain a master's degree.
Employee turnover is very expensive. It costs 6-9 months of salary minimum for every single college educated teacher or person who leaves, resigns, retires or is fired - plus the cost of damage the poor hiring choices have done after being hired. This applies to all positions including the superintendent, who delivered Knox County, Tennessee more than 80% of the students who entered 9th grade not ACT Ready after high school, since 2008. That is huge damage. The education board members, with more than one year on the board, did nothing about it.
- The teachers need to be in command of the classroom if we want better results and measure teacher performance in an effective manner.
- Low teacher morale is very common. 250 teachers came to a board meeting in Knox County, Tennessee to express their dissatisfaction in August 2014. When people go public with complaints, there are at least ten times as many who feel that way. That makes approximately the entire teacher group dissatisfied in this county. Low morale is always a top management problem, the board or superintendent cause it or fixes it.
- Most superintendents and boards look at teacher complaints as a bad thing to be hidden or avoided. They do not want to find out what the reasons are behind it for fear of having to make changes elsewhere in the organization.
- Some superintendents need to learn that managing by fear autocratically makes things worse. You will not be able to replace all teachers. Why has not the board and superintendent fix all such problems even if it required a request to the state for legislative action?
The ELECTED board of education is totally in charge of all decisions under the state law. The people who are responsible for the poor results, low teacher morale and high teacher turnover in Knox County, TN, are JAMES MCINTYRE superintendent, and board of education chairs, if supported by the majority, INDYA KINCANNON, KAREN CARSON, LYNNE FUGATE AND MIKE MACMILLAN.
The majority of nations spent less per student than we did and delivered superior results. This is the result of far superior management. Poor management: poor results with MORE THAN ENOUGH FUNDING. THE MONEY IS NOT BEING SPENT IN THE RIGHT PLACES. And the poor inexperienced management keeps making the same mistake every year. This is NOT a right or left wing, Republican or Democrat problem. It happened under both parties since 1970. IT IS AN AMERICAN PROBLEM, and we keep doing nothing about it. It is time for some big changes.
We have a big problem. IN EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF EVERY US STATE, IT IS THE ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD THAT DETERMINES WHAT OBJECTIVES AND PLANS THE SCHOOL DISTRICT WILL FOLLOW. With more than fourteen thousand school districts nationally, performance standardization and achievement becomes an impossibility.
Sadly, that is what we have in Knox County, Tennessee.
The elected boards have more authority than the state or federal government in areas relating to results, spending and operating ratios. Board membership requires only a high school diploma. The end of high school results (ACT and SAT) are very poor. Imagine that in the case of Knox County, Tennessee, our example, such an elected board oversees an organization with more than 8,500 employees with a budget of more than half billion dollars. That is a huge management task requiring management training and experience on the highest level. Such background and experience is not available in school boards even on the individual level let alone for the voting majority. The results can only be terrible under such circumstances.
No laws exist to achieve a good average ACT or SAT score by the end of high school and to do it all based on the budget that the district board approved before the start of the school year. More importantly, management guidelines from the state to the school boards do not exist to achieve some uniformity for better performance at normal expense levels. Under any state law, one cannot blame the superintendent and the board if they have poor results, unless the board created a specific objective first to reach better results. If such an objective was not created by the board, poor performance is making most children failures for life. No one can create a change under current education law. Boards and superintendents avoid such "liability" by purposefully not having objectives about things like average ACT score achievement or not exceeding the approved budget. Just look at the examples of objectives below.
Why would anyone be motivated to put in the extra effort to correct a poorly performing education system as measured by the ACT:
- If their income is certain, regardless of the results they produce,
- If they have no specific, measurable academic objective to meet, like an average ACT score,
- If they receive at least the same amount of money to spend as the year before, regardless of results they achieve,
- If they can spend that money in any way, they want by law. When asked what the ADDITIONAL money requested will be used for, a board of education chair (I.K.) replied to the Knox County Commission at its meeting in 2012-13 "You just give us the money! We will decide how to spend it!". And,
- If they can tell the public only the good part of the truth and hide the bad part, to create a better opinion of the school system in the public eye, than the entire truth would. "A half-truth is a whole lie" - says a proverb.
Who was responsible for these poor results and bad teacher morale in Knox County, Tennessee?
The board of education is totally in charge of all decisions under the state law. The people who are responsible for the poor results in Knox County, TN, are JAMES MCINTYRE superintendent, and board of education chairs INDYA KINCANNON, KAREN CARSON, LYNNE FUGATE AND MIKE MACMILLAN.Superintendent Jim McIntyre taught for one year, then managed food service, security and accounting with less than 150 direct employees, never managed a single school before the board hired him with a 5:4 decision to manage 89 schools, more than 8,500 direct employees and a half billion dollar budget.
Read this website. Verify the sources. Decide where the truth is, and what they don't tell you. "WILL MY CHILDREN AND GRAND CHILDREN BE EMPLOYED?" Your child's future depends on them.
"Things may come to those who wait...but only the things
left by those who hustle!"
THE PLAN IN 2008 - THAT WAS IGNORED TO DATE:
Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education
Click on the title to read the plan.
A report by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, Inc.
- Action 1: Upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked
standards in math and language arts for grades K-12 to ensure that students are equipped with the
necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive.
- Action 2: Leverage states' collective influence to ensure that textbooks, digital media, curricula, and
assessments are aligned to internationally benchmarked standards and draw on lessons from high performing nations and states.
- Action 3: Revise state policies for recruiting, preparing, developing, and supporting teachers and
school leaders to reflect the human capital practices of top-performing nations and states around the
- Action 4: Hold schools and systems accountable through monitoring, interventions, and support to
ensure consistently high performance, drawing upon international best practices.
- Action 5: Measure state-level education performance globally by examining student achievement
and attainment in an international context to ensure that, over time, students are receiving the education
they need to compete in the 21st century economy.
THE ABOVE PLAN WAS APPROVED BY MORE THAN 40 STATES AND THE US GOVERNMENT. This plan was not created by the US Government. The intent was clear: study the top international performers, determine what made them more productive in education than the US, and implement the new practices and standards in the states to produce significant improvement. Nothing of significance was implemented as of August, 2015. If implemented, the ACT (and SAT) scores would have risen significantly. They did not increase and went down in many states like Tennessee, where we set an all time low ACT score. Look at the results below.
The Success Academy Schools of NYC, having achieved top one percent status in the entire State of New York with 32 schools of poor black inner city children, is an example of what is possible, when everywhere else the same children are on the bottom (Success Academy Schools of New York City 1, Success Academy Schools of New York City 2). Sadly, we are killing the country and don't want to change in order to save the jobs of those who are creating the problem.
A. PERFORMANCE AND RESULTS: OBJECTIVES AND AN ANNUAL OPERATING PLAN
A presidential project, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 (2010)", concluded 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."
You can read it here
Good education is the only certain way out of poverty. Unfortunately, our education system has become so poor that it can drive even children who are not from poverty, into poverty.
Between 1995 and 2014 Knox County, Tennessee students increased only 14% but administrators increased 130%. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL. Administrators hire people to work for them. The real increase ends up 650-900% if they hire 4-6 people per administrator for only a 14% increase in students. However, with this huge increase in management, the ACT results dropped like a stone setting an all time low record in 2013 with a score of 20.2! ACT Readiness reports indicate that as a result more than 80% (statewide 89%!) of those students who enter 9th grade are ready only for minimum wage employment, the types of jobs that will disappear. This huge percentage of management increase was not reversed to this day, and it did absolutely nothing but cost a lot of money! So money is being shifted away from the classroom producing poorly prepared children in large numbers, and management overhead is increased purposefully, but the results dropped like a stone. I am sorry, but the wisdom with which the public's money and these decisions appear to be handled by boards and superintendents is mind boggling, and no one in leadership appears to have the wisdom to stand up to reverse such foolish spending. Is the state leadership's objective to waste as much of the people's money as possible and to dumb down virtually the entire workforce? That is what the ACT results indicate under the governors.
For years now, our education system in Knox County, Tennessee has been creating more than 80% of the students from 9th grade who are not prepared for jobs beyond minimum wage after leaving high school, according to ACT. The State is worse at 86%.
For black students the percentage of those not ready for a job is 98%. The public is unaware of these facts. The black student figures are very disturbing. A chain of charter schools with poor black inner city children (Success Academy Schools of New York City 1
, Success Academy Schools of New York City 2
) worked hard and had outstanding results with 32 schools in 2014. These black inner city children from poor families scored in the top 1% in Math and the top 3% in English on the difficult Common Core tests in the entire State of New York, the fifth best performing state in US education. THE PROBLEM CAN BE SOLVED, BUT NOT THE WAY OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE MANAGED.
We have created a powder keg that will surely blow up.
All of this, because state law delegates ALL decisions to the school districts' elected board everywhere, whose majority has no management experience on the scale of the school district. Important: The states do not provide management guidelines.
POOR OBJECTIVES AND THE ANNUAL OPERATING PLAN: the biggest reason for the poor performance! In a school district or any organization with a hundred employees or more, one MUST HAVE AN EASY-TO-UNDERSTAND, SINGLE SENTENCE, VERY CLEAR, MEASURABLE, PERFORMANCE-RELATED OBJECTIVE THAT NEEDS NO FURTHER EXPLANATION FOR EMPLOYEES TO UNDERSTAND IT, SUCH AS "IN THE 2015-2016 SCHOOL YEAR, KNOX COUNTY SCHOOLS SHALL ACHIEVE AN AVERAGE CONSOLIDATED ACT SCORE OF 22.5". WE MUST ALSO HAVE A MONTHLY REPORT AND OBJECTIVE ON SPENDING VS. THE APPROVED BUDGET FOR THE SAME MONTH AND YEAR-TO-DATE. LET'S CALL THESE PRIMARY OBJECTIVES THAT ARE ASSIGNED TO THE BOARD AND THE SUPERINTENDENT FOR THEIR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION PURPOSES, WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL OBJECTIVES. The clear measurable objectives continue down to all supervisory employees focusing on their measurable performance-related and spending objectives in every single school. THESE ARE SECONDARY OBJECTIVES. This would be called the ANNUAL OPERATING PLAN, not to be confused with the Five Year Strategic Plan. We are missing these important elements IN THE SUPERINTENDENT'S FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN.
Knox County, Tennessee School District's Objectives
What we have are two different groups of unmeasurable, unclear objectives IN 2015. One is on the board's website. The second set is in the Superintendent's Five Year Strategic Plan.
In the school district's website:
The superintendent mentions that: "In fact, you may remember that a key goal of our strategic plan is 100/90/90/90, that is:
- "100% of students completing high school" (What is the value of "completing" high school with 80% of those who entered 9th grade not being ready per ACT but for minimum wage jobs at best?)
- "At least 90% graduating with a regular diploma" (What is the value of a diploma when 77% of those with a regular diploma are not even ready to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school per ACT?)
- "At least 90% of our graduates taking the ACT, and" (All students take the ACT by law. What is the value here? Just taking a test has zero value in any case.)
- "At least 90% of ACT takers scoring a 21 or better" (An average ACT 21 score means that 73-75% of those who entered in 9th grade are NOT ACT Ready and are prepared for minimum wage jobs only. This is a shamefully low objective. A neighboring school district's objective is ACT 27. The top twenty countries in education are delivering high school students in an ACT equivalent range of 26 to 31)."
In the superintendent's Five Year Strategic Plan we have these different objectives that are also not appropriate, unclear, not measurable, neither academic nor spending related.
Are these easy to understand, clear, measurable academic objectives and a spending objective vs. the approved budget? Of course not. Can you tell what measurable result to reach in each one? Of course not. That is the reason for poor performance. No one is going to pay attention to such objectives, and when they are not measurable, there can be no possible consequence. Ignoring it works. What becomes important is to please your boss and shield any complaints from him. Anyone can come up with excuses for the ACT score not improving. And the boss needs good excuses so he/she will appreciate you for it. That is the effect of too many objectives that are not measurable to see with certainty if they were met or not.
- "Guarantee Excellence in Teaching and Learning."
- "Personalize Learning"
- "Facilitate High Quality Student Supports"
- "Build & Support Our Community of Learners"
- "Build & Support Our Community of Leaders"
- "Value Our Hardworking People"
- "Build & Strengthen Our "One Big Team""
- "Invite & Earn Stakeholder Feedback"
- "Improve Customer Service & Communication"
Poor teacher morale is very common and it is a major impediment to good performance:
- Teacher morale is low and too many superintendents don't know how to solve that basic management problem without being defensive with structured "satisfaction surveys". 250 of our teachers demonstrated at an August 2014 board meeting about how they are being treated. It is a management fact that when you have a number of overt complaints as in this case, there are at least ten times as many employees behind it. That makes almost all teachers having the same feelings about their jobs. The resolution in a situation like this is an anonymous, confidential 3rd party survey that is open ended and not structured. Structured surveys are multiple choice and can be structured to a specific conclusion.
- The elected boards and superintendents make up their own approximately 8-15 vague objectives, and then they give themselves excellent performance reviews based on those objectives, while their compensation is guaranteed. This method actually ensures no focus on any objective, and poor performance as a result. In a poorly performing environment, management needs to be focused on a single objective for performance.
- The ACT or SAT score measures what children have learned from grade 1 to 12. There is no single performance objective in any school district that is an ACT score that is only 5% higher than the last one achieved. That is what is needed.
- The approved budget is not taken seriously and spending rises as performance declines. There is no objective to not exceed the budget.
- Teacher product knowledge and teaching methodology needs updating to the top ten internationals' level (Reference1, Reference2, Reference3).
- In the top performing countries teachers above 3rd grade were among the top ten percent in their master's degree program for the subject they are teaching. Teachers under 4th grade have a master's degree in education. Teacher pay is only average in the high performing countries, but job satisfaction is very high with very low turnover.
ACT Readiness, unreadiness (not being ready) and how we calculate the results are explained at http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html
The poor primary and secondary education will create increasing unemployment. This will result from more advanced cognitive robotics entering the labor force slowly in 2016 and increasing job requirements by employers. Our public school district in Knox County, Tennessee is creating an 80%+ failure rate, or 80%+ mortality from the employability point of view (98% for black students) with homelessness, crime, jail time, violent life and perhaps early violent death.
Look at the Knox County, Tennessee high school ACT score trends for 11 years in the second chart below. One has a slight increase and the rest are declining. According to ACT in 2014 the best high school, Farragut, had only a 45% Readiness (first chart). That means that 55% of the graduates were not ready to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school. In the worst high schools 98-99% are not ACT Ready (e.g., Austin East and Fulton). The worst high schools have been getting more than twice the funding per student of the best high schools over the 11 year period. IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE. The poor performers just keep going down. THE MONEY IS CLEARLY NOT BEING SPENT FOR THE RIGHT THINGS TO RAISE RESULTS. We as a country also are delivering the lowest result among the industrialized countries. In a chart further down, we can see that we are spending more money per student than most of the high performing countries in the world. We have become the fifth highest spender per student in the world. "Unreadiness" means spotty minimum wage jobs with eventual homelessness. Starting in 2016, cognitive robots will start eliminating employment possibilities for these poorly prepared children, except for those who enter a university to pursue a degree in demand. The more difficult degrees. The future looks discouraging for marginal students who graduated from our high schools. That's more than 80% of those who entered 9th grade in Tennessee, will not be ready for job training after leaving high school. The Governor and his leadership initiate only small impact programs that will not make any difference, when the entire school system needs to be made more productive. We need eight education laws amended. Experts predict that one third of jobs will be replaced by robots
We were on top in 1970. Neither party's administration has done anything to raise the ACT scores.
The results are poor. No wonder why. Read below about the mystery of two sets of different objectives - when not any of them make sense and are unmeasurable.
On the board's website, the superintendent's presentation says this about HIS OBJECTIVE:
"In fact, you may remember that a key goal of our strategic plan is 100/90/90/90, that is:
- 100% of students completing high school (What is the value of "completing" high school with 80% of those who entered 9th grade not being ready per ACT but for minimum wage jobs at best?)
- At least 90% graduating with a regular diploma (What is the value of a diploma when 77% of those with a regular diploma are not even ready to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school per ACT?)
- At least 90% of our graduates taking the ACT, and (All students take the ACT by law. What is the value here? Just taking a test has zero value in any case.)
- At least 90% of ACT takers scoring a 21 or better" (An average ACT 21 score means that 73-75% of those who entered in 9th grade are NOT ACT Ready and are prepared for minimum wage jobs only. This is a shamefully low objective. A neighboring school district's objective is ACT 27. The top twenty countries in education are delivering high school students in an ACT equivalent range of 26 to 31).
It should be very clear to anyone that this 100/90/90/90 objective that the board and superintendent have been using makes no sense and it is not appropriate for improving the results. Objectives that are vague, not 100% in line with THE key indicator of success in the activity, the ACT score, or are a limit instead of a very specific target to reach, simply do not work. When one includes such elements in an objective, the entire objective will not work and become confusing.
The Tennessee Code Annotated, TCA 49-2-702 (a)(2) controls two areas above that may need to be amended because they set the minimum standards for performance that is too low for today, although the Board has the right to select higher goals than what the state law specifies. Sub. (A) here wants a graduation rate of ninety percent (90%) or higher; The ACT shows the readiness of regular diplomas at 19-23% that is very poor, with 77-81% graduates with a regular diploma NOT READY for a job that is better than minimum wage.
Sub (B) Exhibits an average student ACT score of 21 or higher etc. This ACT score (21) and the corresponding SAT score has a readiness of 25% only of those achieving it. We would have to be at 24-25 ACT average to have 80-90% readiness. The readiness for today's and especially tomorrow's job requirements need to be much higher. Since the elected boards control all such decisions and therefore uniformity of performance becomes elusive, the amendment of these two laws would go a long way to raise our poor performance. "Low expectation" objectives produce results below low objectives. With "High expectation" objectives people rise to the occasion to exceed such objectives and that is how one achieves higher results. The superintendent likes to claim "high rigor world class performance with excellence for all children". Our performance is the opposite. It is very poor. Why? Because the primary objective is wrong, and an annual operating plan per school does not exist. But we certainly spend a lot of money, more than the high achievers do.
When one does poorly with an organization that depends on public dollars like the Knox County, Tennessee's school system, one needs a large PR group to make things look better for the public, because the truth would make the public very unhappy. Unfortunately, this is how our boards and superintendents think. It is sad that the kind of leadership does not exist where one can admit openly that we failed and have to take action, however, we will correct it with serious objectives and operating plans and not with five year plans that had a tendency to fail ever since they were started by the communist countries after WWII. We do not see PR groups in the top performing countries. The results THAT COUNT speak more loudly than PR stories.
INTERESTINGLY, A DIFFERENT SET OF OBJECTIVES APPEARS IN THE FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN. NEITHER THAT ONE NOR THE ABOVE WILL MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE IN PERFORMANCE BECAUSE THEY ARE VAGUE, INAPPROPRIATE AND INEFFECTIVE OBJECTIVES IN BOTH. DOESN'T THE SUPERINTENDENT AND THE BOARD REALIZE THAT SUCH VAGUE OBJECTIVES ARE USELESS IN FOCUSING THE STAFF ON THE TASK OF IMPROVING EDUCATION?
School districts like to prepare beautifully produced FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLANS. They are loaded with information that looks pretty and sounds good, 40-60 pages worth. However, the most important achievement by far is to have high ACT scores and ACT READINESS percentages at the end of high school, to tell the public how well they have prepared our children for employment or further learning. Unfortunately our children are very poorly prepared because education districts are not focused on an ACT or SAT objective, whichever is supported by the state.
It stands to reason that if a school district is spending $560 million per year in 2014, including ALL education-related expenses not disclosed to the public, like capital and interest expenses, AND the fact that their ACT Career and College Readiness percentage of regular diplomas is only 20% counting from 9th grade entries (meaning that 80% with a regular diploma cannot even be trained for a job), a large portion of the money is not being spent correctly to produce good results, and they have serious management problems. The FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLANS do not focus on what is important, and they are not strategic. I have looked at many in several states. They have much in common. There are nine objectives listed in the new FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN of the superintendent of Knox County, Tennessee. Remember that objectives have to be measurable to be able to tell if you achieved them or not. They also have to be important in that they better reduce the existing ACT Unreadiness of more than 80% of the children after high school to get a job that provides enough money to live on or to enter college or a tech school. Do you see any objective below that deals with that?! For example:
- "Guarantee Excellence in Teaching and Learning."
- "Personalize Learning"
- "Facilitate High Quality Student Supports"
- "Build & Support Our Community of Learners"
- "Build & Support Our Community of Leaders"
- "Value Our Hardworking People"
- "Build & Strengthen Our "One Big Team""
- "Invite & Earn Stakeholder Feedback"
- "Improve Customer Service & Communication"
The above cannot qualify as objectives. Objectives have to specify a specific achievement, preferably a numerically expressed achievement that in this case must be a higher number than what was previously achieved, because the result was too low. One has to be able to see clearly that the objective has been achieved or not, the result not being subject to any argument. Numbers don't lie. In addition the objectives described need to become the personal objectives for the people intended for their performance evaluation. If the objective(s) do not possess the qualities stated, they become useless in focusing a team of any size on what needs to be achieved. The above objectives cannot perform as objectives. The person who wrote them simply did not have management training for a management job, not to know such a basic requirement. Such a person who writes vague objectives is not sure about what needs to be achieved, and how it will be achieved. They do not want responsibility for results. And such management, no one needs and wants because they lose every time and produce poor results as the ACT performance history shows. HOW DOES ANY OF THE OBJECTIVES ABOVE FOCUS THE BOARD, THE SUPERINTENDENT, CENTRAL MANAGEMENT AND ALL THE SCHOOLS TO DELIVER AT MINIMUM A HIGHER AVERAGE ACT SCORE, THAN THE LAST ONE ACTUALLY ACHIEVED? HOW DOES IT FOCUS ALL SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES AND THE BOARD TO IMPROVE THAT TERRIBLE 21% ACT READINESS PERCENTAGE OF REGULAR DIPLOMAS TO ONE THAT SHOWS THAT WE IMPROVED THE RESULTS TO 41%, AND WE ARE STILL NOT WHERE WE SHOULD BE BECAUSE MORE THAN HALF OF OUR CHILDREN WILL BE JOBLESS?!
DOES ANYONE IN LEGISLATURE UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SNOW JOB, AND WHAT IS NEEDED FROM A MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVE TO IMPROVE OUR POOR RESULTS AGGRESSIVELY?!
If anyone believes that immeasurable and vague objectives like the ones above will improve the poor education of our children, they do not have the experience to make anything successful. Just like the person who wrote the above objectives.
But the problem is much larger than that. The board writes up its own objectives, and then the board writes its own performance evaluation based on them. The superintendent does the same and the board approves it. Under such conditions a school district will never have objectives that are challenging enough to raise the average ACT scores and Readiness. This is a huge problem. The performance evaluations and the actual performance of a school district will never improve with such practices. Who is going to change it?
THE POOR RESULTS ARE THE PRODUCT OF OUR CLASSROOMS. THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S PRODUCTS ARE THE STUDENTS, FOR WHOM EMPLOYERS AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS ARE THE CUSTOMERS. THE STUDENT "PRODUCT" MUST MEET THE CUSTOMERS' NEEDS. 80% DO NOT MEET THOSE NEEDS TODAY ACCORDING TO ACT, AND THAT IS SOMETHING TO BE TAKEN VERY SERIOUSLY.
Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil.
B. OVERSPENDING THE BUDGET
The "Current" budget is approved at the beginning of the school year. It excludes certain education-related expenses, like capital and interest expenses, legal and other expenses that are comingled hidden in different county cost centers. That means that we do not know exactly how much we spend related to education. A special investigative audit, called a forensic audit would be the efficient way to identify ALL education related spending.
The "Current" Budget is overspent 15-18% every single year (2008-2014), and we get the above poor results for it. The state publishes the Grand Total Education Expense Spent in the school district, that is overspent 28-38% every year beyond the approved budget, including the capital and interest expenses covering school renovations and new schools that the education department decides to perform or build respectively, but excluding them from the budget they present. Even the Grand Total doesn't include all education-related expenses. All this points to another very important thing that is not being done: ZERO BASED BUDGET PLANNING.
ZERO BASED BUDGET PLANNING means that the budget being prepared for all departments identifies first all actions that they will have to take during the coming year to improve results and reach a specific performance objective. Then each department and school puts the budget together for themselves on that basis. That is how one can make sure that any surprises are minimized for the coming year, and it is an important part of planning and creating an operating plan for the coming year only. Poor planners do a quick and easy way, called INCREMENTAL BUDGET PLANNING in which one looks at what one spent last year, and modifies it by adding or subtracting amounts that one just guesses without planning. For small organizations that total less than 100 employees one can do that. For larger organizations, the end result is overspending beyond the approved budget every year, and that is what is happening in Knox County, Tennessee and in many other school districts. When one starts putting together multi-year plans, like the five year plan, it just does not make sense because too many unanticipated things will be changing each year that no one can predict that far ahead. Therefore in well-managed operations one sees zero-based budget planning for a ONE-YEAR OPERATING PLAN, based on which the spending can be managed accurately. That is what well management schooled and experienced superintendents do.
When one sees a five year plan, with simply a fixed percentage increase on activities every year, and then adds a tenth year result that looks very good, no serious planning went into that plan. The superintendent in such a case prepared a "selling document only", it is always a beautiful colorful document, but without any serious planning.
The Knox County, Tennessee school district has an unusually large PR group whose planning and execution on any action they target is excellent. They do not report all of the news. They report only what looks good, creating a positive image in the eyes of the public. As a result, the public is unaware how poorly their children are prepared.
One sees significant additional money requests annually from the board of education, with two big problems.
Click here to look at more facts about our spending.
- They are never tied to a plan to show how much they will raise the ACT results that count. Other than that the promises are endless.
- Most such programs do not produce any improvement in the ACT scores. However, the amount approved one year just keeps included every year thereafter and no one questions it. It is sad how the people's hard-earned tax dollars are wasted in education without any improvement in results.
A half truth is a whole lie.
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.
All things are possible - if one is smart.
If we just keep providing more and more money, the school districts' results will not improve without a single ACT score goal and spending limited to the approved budget, as described here. Taxing the people to provide more money for our poorly performing school districts is just more wasting of the people's money, unless we see changes in the objectives as described here.