Johnny Can’t Read But Greene Is Accredited Anyhow

This year, VDOEadjusted” the ESH Greene Elementary reading SOL from 51 to 81, the math from 58 to 84, and pronounced that school “Fully Accredited.”  Indeed, Greene has been fully accredited for at least the past eight years.

Let’s take a look back and see if these helpful pass rate “adjustments” have a history.

For a start, English.

NOTE: In the period of the data here, they administered a fifth grade writing test from 2011 to 2013.  The “English” SOL is some kind of average of that with the Grade 3-5 reading scores.  The numbers below are the average of the grade 3-5 reading and grade 5 writing for the 2011-13 period.  Given that the writing score covers only one grade, the actual averages probably are closer to the reading numbers.

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For the purposes of the present analysis, the 2013-14 numbers are so appalling appallingly (oops!) low that those differences are beside the point.

Here, then, are the English pass rates and the “adjusted” values.

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The orange line is the 75% accreditation benchmark.

For the past five years, the “adjustments” have boosted Green into accreditation.  This year the boost was thirty(!) points.

The math situation is slightly less egregious: The boost this year was only twenty-six points.

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Courtesy of this falsification by our “education” establishment, Greene has remained fully accredited to the present.

HOWEVER

This official mendacity gives Greene bragging rights while failing to teach nearly half its students to read or reckon.  Unfortunately, that’s only the surface problem.

More fundamentally:  Accreditation — or lack of it — is meaningless.

In theory, a school that loses accreditation is in violation of the Standards of Quality and the Board of “Education” has the authority to compel the local school board to bring that school into compliance.  In practice, the Board does not know how (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) to do that.

The poster child in this respect is Petersburg, which has been operating under Memoranda of Understanding with the Board since April 2004 and still can’t teach 40% of its schoolchildren how to read.

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In light of

  • the fictitious accreditation numbers,
  • the Board’s ineffective “help,”
  • the Board’s total failure to exercise its authority, and
  • the Board’s admission that it does not know how to fix broken schools

the accreditation process is a shameful sham.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

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Added Note:

The “adjustment” here appears to lie with the “English Learner” or “Limited English Proficiency” population.  (The VDOE Web site seems to use those terms interchangeably.)

To start out, the local school gets to decide which students are LEP (or EL).  For the reasons you’ll see below, I’ll bet you a #2 lead pencil that every student – except for the bright ones – who knows how to pronounce “señor” gets classified as LEP.

The LEP population affects the scoring in two ways.

First, “LEP students who have attended school in the United States for less than 12 months may receive a one – time exemption for the SOL Reading test in grades 3 through 8.”

So we get a one-time SOL score boost for any new, LEP student.

Then, to the point here, “The scores of LEP students enrolled in Virginia public schools fewer than 11 semesters may be excluded from the accreditation rating calculations.”

So LEP students who start here in kindergarten don’t count against accreditation until they’ve had six years to learn our Mother Tongue.  And those who start in the first grade or later need not be taught English; they can’t hurt the accreditation rating. 

Can’t you hear the mantra: “Teach the bright ones; forget the rest.”

Greene has a large population of “EL” students.  The Fall, 2017 report shows:

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For sure, the Greene data tell us many of those kids are not being taught English.  Or math, which ought to be the same in Spanish as in English.

So the accreditation system accomplishes three things at Greene:

  • It produces accreditation numbers that are unrelated to how well the school is teaching,
  • It tells the school to classify all but the brightest immigrant students as LEP, whether those kids are fluent in English or not, and
  • It encourages the school to forget about the LEP kids; they can’t affect the accreditation even if they don’t learn a thing.

Your tax dollars at “work.”