Under construction. Updated 7/27/2014.
This website is about our deteriorating public education and what we could do to fix it.
If one wants to understand this complex area clearly, we would recommend the reading of 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). 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.
Those who are NOT ACT CCR ready plus dropouts plus those who did not get a regular diploma are not ready for job training per ACT's 2006 decision, and are also not ready to complete any college or technical training. They will end up with minimum wage, unemployed and possibly homeless. It is most important to understand that more than 80% of children who enter the first year of high school NATIONALLY have not been ready for years (90% in low performing states like Tennessee, our example), and their employment future looks dismal. This is what happens when elected school boards and superintendents do not even have an average ACT (or SAT) score as their most important objective to achieve, based on which their performance evaluation will be judged. They make up their own vague objectives and evaluate their own performance - and this is the result we get. THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM. THERE IS NO INCENTIVE FOR ACT ACHIEVEMENT.
WE WONDER WHY NO GOVERNOR OF EITHER PARTY HAS CHANGED THIS DESTRUCTIVE SITUATION BY ESTABLISHING SUCH AN OBVIOUS SINGLE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE FOR BOARDS AND SUPERINTENDENTS IN SCHOOL DISTRICTS FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS!
In the chart below "What % is 1 higher than 2" refers to how much higher actual education-related spending is in column 1, than the "approved" public budget spending in column 2.
"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? Obviously there is no discipline and oversight associated with the budget to stay within it like the citizens and businesses have to do. All counties overspend and no one does anything about it - IS THE PEOPLE'S MONEY THAT UNIMPORTANT TO YOU? But this is not all.
Under a different heading called "GRAND TOTAL OF ALL EXPENDITURES" in the Statistical Report, Knox County Schools spent a whopping $560 million total, 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. IS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING TOTALLY GONE? WHY DO YOU THINK?
For more on the chart above, go to: http://www.usaedustat.com/12013spendingvsperformance.html
The chart on the right shows that since 1970 education spending per student increased aggressively, but without any improvement in scores under all administrations of either party. The state tests were made easier to produce higher scores. The ACT, or SAT and NAEP national tests show the real results. Surely by 1975 the latest, state and national leaders must have seen the skyrocketing expenses without results. No one in political leadership has taken action to date, more than 40 years later, to improve our ACT and SAT scores to regain our competitiveness. The competitiveness since 1995 was measured with greater accuracy by national tests like the ACT, that started measuring job training and college readiness from 2006, based on ACT scores correlated to actual jobs/education achieved 4-5 years after the ACT test was taken. The results to date are putting 65-85% of the students (percentage depending on the state), WITH A REGULAR DIPLOMA on the street so that they are not even trainable for a job, per ACT's "readiness" definition since 2006 (http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/ReadinessBrief.pdf).
PROPOSED 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 results, and not the state tests. Our leadership at all levels did and do create some programs that sound impressive to the public, and they create a false impression by promoting the weaker but higher scoring state tests. The school districts' leadership clearly has no idea what programs will increase the ACT or SAT results and has no idea how to increase such results. The scores that count, the ACT or SAT did not increase as a result of these programs and spending. The education system needs checks and balances on the state level to make sure that such money-wasting does not happen. Currently the board of education may do anything it wants with the money. The board of education even paid or caused to be paid by the county the settlement for a school board member being sued for sexual harassment of a housekeeper in one of his schools in Knox County, Tennessee, without firing him from the board. Settlement means that the board member was de facto guilty. The moral and ethical standards of being on a school board should require immediately sanctioning for behavior and dismissal statewide. COULD THES KIND 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 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: The school results SHOULD depend on the education, quality and motivation of teachers. They would, if:
We have some teachers whose subject knowledge and teaching methodology needs help through a continuing education program. Education systems that perform well and have the best reputation attract the best volunteers.
Unfortunately, in our systems teacher morale is poor. That is always the result of poor management on top. Our school districts try to create a good public image with professional PR stories in the media - not with results that count. We are dealing with the challenges that must be solved in this area on a separate page at http://usaedustat.com/1teacherchallenges.html.
MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS ARE RAMPANT: THIS IS THE WORST PROBLEM IN OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEMS. Promotion 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. 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 produced 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. We can even find boards hiring superintendents without the candidate ever having managed even a single school as a principal. That is exactly what happened in Knox County, Tennessee in 2008, and the result since then is declining ACT performance and bad teacher morale http://www.wate.com/story/24207001/knox-county-teachers-worry-current-policies-are-causing-more-educators-to-quit.
THE RESULTS OF POOR MANAGEMENT are teachers treated without respect, unprofessionally, restricted in their jobs resultings 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 74-86% 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.
WHY DO WE NEED TO BE INTERNATIONALLY COMPETITIVE? WHY NOT JUST WITHIN THE USA? WHY SHOULD WE COMPARE OUR PERFORMANCE TO OTHER COUNTRIES? With airplanes, TV and radio the world became smaller, and nations became interdependent among each other because the entire world became everyone's market. The best products for the money that customers liked sold the best, and they were American products through the 50's and the 60's. A few decades later, 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. Why not purchase all US products? Because the desired quality for the price was no longer available from American companies. Successful companies require 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 creating winning products which we did well until about the 70's. Then we started seeing a lot of imported products from the inexpensive to the very expensive. Today we lost entire industries. Look at what happened to the TV industry and others.
The quality of the work force depends on the quality of the job that the public schools do 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 of the quality of high school graduates to the competitiveness of the products of the companies that hire them, clearly shows that our 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.
All nations walked away from the highly centralized school systems and business models after WWII because they do not work and started developing better management and teaching methodologies, except for the USA. We were not pushed by competition, WE WERE beating the competition back then. Worst of all, in education we fell down to 36th, an all time low, within 65 countries - the OECD-PISA tests showed in 2013. The "We are the best in the world" idea took hold, and some still believe that today. In most areas we are no longer the best. Back in 1970 enough of our high school graduates were good enough for the workforce or to go on to college. It is the high school graduates with enough knowledge who feed all industries and colleges or technical schools to develop more highly trained people to run the research and development and other activities like manufacturing and assembly of products in all industries to develop superior products at a lower cost than what the competition can do anywhere in the world. We lost that edge and we will have a miserable life if we do not gain it back.CONCLUSIONS: 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.
Fixing our poor education cannot happen without the public being informed of all the truth about education. Public support for changes is very important, and that is why our school districts have substantial numbers of full time professional PR staff on board, some more than we have seen in billion dollar corporations. One could legitimately ask why even one is needed in any school district to develop articles for the media that put the school district into a better light than what the entire truth really would about the school district's performance.
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 cover our international position first, then how we are doing in the USA, and then our example Tennessee and an example county in Tenessee: Knox County. We have a quick overview of twelve countries in 2011 below. More further down on the recent academic results of 65 countries in one study (we are 36th in math) and 136 countries in another study below (we are 47th in math). We used to be on top. We are not doing well today. See recent international performance.
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:
BUT 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.
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.
Looking at the State of Tennessee first, it must be recognized again first that ACT's "College Readiness" does not mean college completion readiness. This area is not well understood by people even in public education management. It only means a 75% chance for such a student to finish only the first year of a college or technical/vocational school based on ACT's 2009 definition, and it also means readiness to be trained for a job, since ACT announced in 2006 that according to ten years of empirical research (comparing students ACT scores to the job or college position they achieved within 4-5 years thereafter) shows that college readiness and readiness to be trained for a job became the same. The actual ACT documents about this subject can be found in our menu at usaedustat.com .
The readiness area must be understood in the context of how low end jobs were replaced and will continue to be replaced by robotics, and how new technologies, like computers, have changed job prospects and the way job requirements have increased as a result, with both of these trends continuing into the future. For this reason, the ACT readiness definition applies to today and the next few years only at best. ACT will adjust the readiness benchmark qualifying scores in the future for this reason, as they have done in 2013 recently. The requirements of employers for employees will increase aggressively, requiring much better educational results from high schools than what we have today and today's results are poor even for today. The high school results need to be ready as preparation for the upcoming approximate 35 years of working life of a child for job training or for continuing education, covering at least 80% of graduating classes. We are very far from that.
The chart below shows Tennessee's ACT readiness and also average ACT scores for each of the past five years. The ACT readiness score of 18 is unacceptable. It means that only 18% of students with regular diplomas are ready to be trained for a job or to have a chance to finish the first year of college or Technical school, and 82% are NOT READY for any of these options. The average ACT score went from 20.6 to 19.5 during the same five year period. Tennessee education output from public schools is in a very bad shape based on these figures.
Although Tennessee established a new teacher performance evaluation program starting in 2012, it is highly questionable in achieving better results, because average ACT score or ACT readiness percentage of regular diploma objectives have not been put in place on the education board and superintendent level, who have been failing for decades to produce acceptable results at public expense. Such a difference does nothing more than creates conflict between teachers and the management above the school principals.It is a typical example of how poor an education an average school district provides for the public's money, yet they spend more per student than the top international performers. The graph below shows the average ACT scores with a red line for our example, Knox County, Tennessee for the past 14 years. The blue line for the past 7 years in the graph with the right side being its scale, shows the percentage of high school graduates WITH A REGULAR HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA who are not even ready to be trained for a job (74-81% NOT READY), or finish the first year of a college or tech school only, according to ACT's report. This result is very damaging to the future of the current young generation. Sadly, this is higher than average performance in Tennessee, and almost average in the USA.
Think about what the low US high school performance will do to your children and grandchildren - and our nation. A study of 114 key US industries show that foreign products (imports) in 111 industries of the 114 are gaining in the US market 5% each year against US products Reference: http://www.americaneconomicalert.org/view_art.asp?Prod_ID=2648".
“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
It appears that the income of a person depends on his/her education increasingly each year. The education needs to be in a field that is in demand by employers. Software, personal computers and robotic automation replaced many jobs at the low-salary end during the last twenty years. The new generation of robots that we will start seeing from 2015 have much greater capabilities and will replace many jobs increasingly between 2015 and 2020 that required more than just a high school education. This trend is going to impact not only our 3.9 million high school graduates annually, but dropouts, those who "completed" high school but did not earn a regular diploma, and a significant part of the existing US workforce of 144 million as their jobs will go to automation.
Jobs depend on employers' satisfaction with the knowledge of those who graduate from high school - and the entire workforce. They have not been satisfied for more than a decade and feel that insufficient progress has been made. This has become a handicap to attracting new jobs. The ACT and SAT scores represent school achievement and must increase aggressively.
New technologies also create a large number of new jobs; these jobs require more education with university degrees. We not only must raise high school diploma standards, but we must raise the education of those past graduates in the work force who are able and willing to learn more in order to protect their future employability with remedial training. If we do not, we will not have the money to support the growing number of unemployed and welfare recipients and will face very serious social disorders.
ACT published in 2006 that the requirements for a high school graduate with a regular diploma for learning a job or to enter a college became the same. Unfortunately a high school diploma itself is not as valuable as it used to be because today more than 75% of the children who earn a high school diploma in the USA are not ready to be trained for a job according to ACT as of 2013. Details are presented at 1actscoresexplained.html. Based on the poor "job or college readiness percentage" of regular diplomas, the "percentage of high school diplomas achieved" has been a very poor goal in school districts, although it is used everywhere in the USA as of 2013. However, the high school diploma is a vitally important GATEWAY to getting a job, being accepted by the military or entering any school for further learning. That also means that not having a high school diploma is an automatic pathway to poor employment possibilities, no employment and for one to become homeless.Why does our education system have to be internationally competitive?
Today, we are one of the worst in primary and secondary education in the industrialized world. Interestingly more than 80% of the best universities in the world are in the US, but more and more of their graduates are foreign students who see more opportunity at home than in the USA and return home. Our students were among the best during the 1960's. The world has become "smaller" in many ways since 1970. The entire world is the market place for almost all companies in the world. Customers will buy the best products at the best price everywhere, regardless of where the products were created. The creation of such winning products requires many scientists and engineers with advanced degrees. To have such engineers and scientists in large enough numbers, the high schools in the country must graduate very well-qualified graduates to enter such high demand university programs. Because of the decline of our high school performance, our ability to develop scientists and engineers with advanced degrees diminished, reducing our competitiveness in developing winning products in all industries. As a result we have lost entire industries to foreign competitors. As a result we also lost jobs, income and tax income to fund government programs. This is why even the high schools must be competitive with the high schools of the very best nations in education. See backup facts about this area here and much more about why internationals are outperforming us 1internationalperformance.html.
How is the public misinformed?
“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/).
Faster technological changes and faster employer requirement changes for potential employees ensure that that we will all see more job changes, with changes accelerating in the future. That mandates continuing education for a life time, a fact that was incorporated even into actual preschool training as early as 20 years ago in Japan and in Finland. Children entered first grade knowing that jobs can be enormous fun, and that you will be learning new and interesting things all your life. That set an excellent attitude for attending school, before the first grade started.
Our example school district, Knox County, Tennessee is the home of Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee. The county's performance is above average in Tennessee but below average in the USA. He was involved in interviewing and selecting the superintendent at this school district. It is possible that this county is getting special attention with new ideas, such as the new teacher evaluation from the state, that is creating challenges, being new. We think that it needs some serious work done by people with substantial management experience.
How can anyone do a fair evaluation of teacher performance without the outrageous discipline problems being solved first? Speaking of teacher performance evaluation, how fair would it be if your boss came and watched you for an hour 2-4 times annually and based on that decided how well you performed the entire year? That is how teacher performance was and is evaluated. Your peers would know much more about how you perform. In the top performing countries in education such as Finland and Singapore, there is no teacher performance evaluation. Maybe they know better how to manage education to success. Maybe we could learn from them a thing or two.
Sadly, we are very poor in education results, and under the state laws the school boards and under them a superintendent is responsible for the outcome. If they cannot accept that responsibility, it is a serious state problem, we would like to know how many letters they have written to our law makers and governors to change what prevents them from doing a more successful job.
We would recommend that all interested parties read the 2012 OECD-PISA report published in December 2013. It is an excellent document covering the latest trends and success factors in the education results and practices of 65 countries (http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-overview.pdf) with many points relating to what produces good results in teacher evaluations. We are not doing well in this report. We need to recognize that teachers enjoyed protections via tenure because of the poorest management skill levels in the central management of our school districts. A sound performance evaluation is a must and certainly the old system of observation a few times a year by one person was a very poor way to evaluate anyone's performance. Teacher-student relationships are very important, motivating students is very important, and student accomplishments compared before a course starts and after it ends is very important. We could learn from other nations who are doing very effective teacher evaluations without a single evaluator's personal prejudice. Such professional evaluations make good sense and would be accepted by the teachers who are well suited to teaching and are good, confident performers. The best performance comes from people who are well matched to the profession and are happy in it.
Although top countries in education Singapore and Finland do not have teacher performance evaluation, performance evaluations are a very important management tool, UNLESS like Singapore and Finland education gets the top graduates volunteering with a masters degree in the subject they would teach, followed by tests to establish suitability for the teaching, plus additional post graduate training in the latest teaching methodologies, none of which we do. Performance evaluation ALWAYS starts from the top, using THE key indicator of success measured. In education. That would be an average ACT or SAT score for "end of pipeline" or end of high school measurement of what students have learned from grade one to twelve. For example an average ACT score objective that is at least 0.5 point higher than last year's average score would be the most productive way to go. That objective would normally trickle down through various management levels to teachers. We created a teacher evaluation system that makes no management sense in a few areas and it drops the already low teacher morale further down. No one can be evaluated fairly based on objectives that they cannot have control over. Yet at the same time, performance objectives must be measurable and they must start on top, at the board and superintendent level. Instead, boards and superintendents decide to give themselves vague objectives (there are actual examples in this website), and then they prepare their own performance reviews, giving themselves excellent ratings, give the superintendent a four year contract/guarantee, when the results are deplorable. This is not a positive professional move. The poor results confirm that. Just think about this has been doing to our young people.
Lack of teacher authority to handle discipline problems on the spot in the classroom is a major disrupter to classroom effectiveness and destroyer of teacher morale. This is reality: Little Johnny is bad in school, the parent thinks that Little Johnny never lies, so the parent mistreats the teacher and the board and superintendent do not back the teacher AND do not give the teachers the authority to decide and act at the time of the offense. That in turn damages teacher authority. We better decide in every state what the purpose and goal of our school districts is, and stick to it with a firm hand. Our suggestion is below. TEACHERS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE WE HAVE ON WHOM THE FUTURE SUCCESS OF OUR CHILDREN DEPEND. WE CANNOT JUST REPLACE THEM. Some elected board members and superintendents do not seem to understand that. Money is NEVER among the top three reasons for low morale, yet we go to a money solution immediately, which never works. Those other top three reasons for low morale have to be fixed first. References: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/motivating_people_getting_beyond_money, and http://www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2012/01/10/8-ways-leaders-can-motivate-employees-beyond-money/. Fixing the top three reasons for low morale provides the quickest performance improvement - but you have to survey teacher satisfaction by an independent party and be willing to admit that you don't know some things well enough in management as well as you should and do something about it. "Humble pie" and honesty works. Then send people who manage to management training programs that are very good. Titles are not enough. Without this step nothing will work well enough. This video is representative of how teachers feel in Knox County, Tennessee and elsewhere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRmcBJXEOcA. An extraordinary event took place at a December, 2013 school board meeting in Knox County, Tennessee. THIS IS AN AUTOCRATICALLY MANAGED SCHOOL DISTRICT WHERE JOBS ARE THREATENED IF A TEACHER SPEAKS UP. 250 TEACHERS ATTENDED THIS BOARD MEETING TO SPEAK ABOUT THEIR WORKING CONDITIONS. THAT TAKES EXTRAORDINARY COURAGE. In addition while the major newspaper in Knoxville, Tennessee does not want to publish the truth about the education district's poor performance, a smaller local paper published this about the teachers' problems: http://www.metropulse.com/news/2013/nov/20/war-teachers-2-teachers-revolt/ to their credit.
Why, because we do not know or do not pay attention to normal operating ratios in the organization. People are hired into Central Management organizations based on friendships, nepotism and in a few cases based on professional need. Central managements do not have a turnover of people, they tend to grow larger. School boards also do not have a turnover regardless of behavior. For example in approximately 2008 a board member was sued for sexually harassing a cleaning lady in one of his schools. The school system paid more than 90% of the adjudicated settlement and the board member stayed on the board until the end of his term because the case was "dismissed". I heard from teachers as well about him. It cost the school district more than $110K.
Knox County, Tennessee is the only large school district in Tennessee that does not have and never had a single charter school disapproving all prior applicants except one. However, in 2010, the Board (chair: Indya Kincannon) and the superintendent (James McIntyre) approved a charter school, the Knoxville Charter Academy which was backed by the Iris Foundation. When googling the Iris Foundation, one finds that it is fully controlled by the Islamic Gulen Movement of Turkey. The googling presents a highly suspect and undesirable history with multiple posts. If it took us not more than 15 minutes to find this out through Google, why couldn't the superintendent and the Board chair do the same before they approved it? Now that this poor decision has been made public, this charter school may not open, because the original board decision cannot be defended. This is what extremely bad decisions look like, along with the consistently poor academic results and the misrepresentation of real performance to the public. We are in 2014 now and without a single charter school.
In April, 2010, a person, Steve Dobson, identified some potential abuse of our tax dollars within our school district's Central Management organization. More than half of the IT Department employees are former teachers who are not IT qualified, yet they appear to make at least 50% more money than the IT qualified employees in the same positions. We are in a recession, and many teachers were laid off, with little impact on Central Management. The postings at schoolmatters.knoxnews.com web site are self-explanatory, unless the school district uses its influence and has it deleted. This is a Web site associated with the local newspaper, who always say only positive things about local education performance, when, in fact, it is poor.
The above and all the symptoms cited here are evidence of lack of management knowhow both within the board of education, among superintendents and within Central Management. It is therefore, vital to establish the suggested organizational framework within laws and policies on the state level for every single school district, or the needed improvement will not happen regardless of how much money is poured into a dysfunctional education organization. See backup facts about this area here 1bloatedcentralmgmnt.html.
Why do we keep operating schools that produce 95% failures? Especially when we spend REPEATEDLY FOR MORE THAN TEN YEARS two times as much per student as what we spend on students in schools that perform well?
We think that this is a clear abuse of the people's money. We have to decide what the purpose of our schools is and put students who cannot or are unwilling to work some place else with the right services to make them productive. Such students create a learning environment for all students that is performing poorly. Spending 20% more is justifiable. If we cannot motivate students to do better, when Success Academies (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3) could achieve fantastic results in Harlem with poor black kids, it is time to start looking at why management is so poor and change them. No one would throw away their own money like this, why are we throwing away the public's money?
Look at how much the spending per student differs school to school in Knox County, Tennessee, and how the money allocated compares to the ACT score (black line). Some school districts are better, some are worse - nationally.
The following graph shows all high schools' ACT scores over fourteen years in Knox County, Tennessee. An average score under 22 represents that more than 70% of those students with a regular diploma are not ready to be trained for a job or finish the first year of a tech school or college. Any school average under ACT 22 is very poor. This school district spends about $500,000,000 in 2014 and has about 50,000 students.
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 progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource. ”
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA
WE START WITH THEM...|
AND THEN, OUR SCHOOL BOARDS AND SUPERINTENDENTS DO THIS TO MOST OF THEM...ON OUR DIME AS THEY BLAME OTHERS.
PLEASE...JUST LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE WITHIN THIS WEBSITE. IT IS UNBELIEVABLE...BUT THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING AND IT MUST CHANGE.
“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource. ”
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA