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Friday, November 4, 2011

Education News: MI Reading And Math Scores Drop

Alternative Title: Race To The Bottom
An Open Letter To The Public-

Good Morning Parents, Teachers, Family, Friends, and Constituents.

Please forward this email to others that have children in Michigan schools, LSCO and PTA parent groups. If you have a school age child or children that are in General Education classes or Special Ed students included in General Ed Classes (find out if they took reading and math tests), I urge you to seriously think about what I am writing about and what you are going to do about it.

Last year, I was one of the members from the Community that served on the Detroit Public Schools' Education Transition Team that analyzed the Detroit Public Schools' District Plan ( by Ms T. Guyser ) and Robert Bobb ( Emergency Manager) Charter Reform plan.

Two of my concerns were: How will new, higher Reform standards and test score demands in English and Math affect future annual yearly progress and student testing, and, 2. What will be the social, emotional or psychological impact on students that a. Cannot meet the standards and b.  made improvements or received A or B grades that would be considered C D E or F (failing or failed) according to charter reform standards?

For over one year, I spoke to many parents, students and educators about my concerns and received very little feedback.    

At 6:08 a.m this morning, Nov 4, 2011, WDIV Channel 4 News announced that the new test scores for Reading and Math dropped.

"Students that formerly receieved a 95% score are now at 35%... students will have to score at 55% or better" on reading and math tests.

In other words, an "Honors" student is now considered a "Failed" student according to charter reform education "test" calculations. What is confusing to me and other educators and parents are the news sources that reported the story on November 3, 2011. Are the new cut scores the result of an experiment that reconfigured scores under reform standards and measurements that are going to be implemented in the future or not? Some news reports made statements as if the method used is actual, not experimental. In either case, whether it will take ten years for Michigan students to "catch up" in order to meet new test scores, the question remains the same: When and how will teachers, parents, and students that never had enough educational resources in failing or failed urban and rural areas obtain resources be able to move into 21st Century high technology related education and jobs?

As of this morning, it is clear to me that for many minority parents and students ( mostly poor, working poor, and what's left of the middle class) that worked or struggled to meet the old standards and test score requirements, today is the day that you discover that overnight you have "Raced To The Bottom."

So your Challenge for the day, week or month is how to sit your child or children down for the "Baby, I have something real important to tell you. Remember how you got all those A's and B's and they said you you were an honor's student? Well, as of Nov. 5, you are now considered a failed student" conversation, AND, be prepared to deal with your child's ability or inability to accept this truth, AND, be ready to have that hard conversation with teachers, principals, the State Board of Education, Arne Duncan in D.C, President Obama, and school social workers or psychologists on how you are supposed to deal with a depressed child whose self esteem got hit by a freight train and raise scores when most schools and over crowded classrooms are not equipped like charter schools with smaller student headcount, like 15 to 20 students in a class.

If you are a parent or educator, you need to find out if the Michigan Department of Ed is going to keep the higher grades or test scores from last year or reconfigure them to reflect failure as of today. What will appear on your child's high school transcript in the future may affect their chances to attend community college, university or trade school, or obtain a job. If I were an employer, I certainly would be asking: What happened? How did you go from being an honors or A or B student one year, then failed the next year?

Now I'm going to change the subject. While writing this, I just received a DPS call at 8:15 am informing me that city busses are not running. So what happens to the students that have been waiting at bus stops to get to schools and they don't show up in school? If they are at the "you have one more chance to be tardy or absent, or we will suspend you" stage, will their tardiness or absence be excused today or next week? It's not their fault that people chose to attack a bus driver yesterday because most city buses have a 2 to 3 hour delay. Thank God today is not a "test day."

Thanks for your time. Please feel free to call or write me, or contact WDIV Ch 4 in Detroit. They only mentioned the test score story once. Find out where they got their info. It wasn't as important as the repeated news that "Detroit has no buses this morning"

Aurora Harris.