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Course rigor, test scores help gauge work-force readiness

Ohanian Comment: standardisto leopard and collaborator does not change her spots. This polemic by Foose, which is really a job application, is filled with distortion and misinformation (a polite term for lying). There was considerable discontent over her hiring as deputy superintendent in Baltimore County last year--at a salary of $214,000--at a time when the jobs of 196 teachers were on the line.

This item comes from The Democratic Underground--from a longer Washington Post article:

The principal of Earle B. Wood Middle School in Rockville gathered teachers and handed out a list of all the black, Hispanic, special-education and limited-English-speaking students who would take the Maryland School Assessment, the measure of success or failure under the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

Principal Renee Foose told teachers to cross off the names of students who had virtually no chance of passing and those certain to pass. Those who remained, children on the cusp between success and failure, would receive 45 minutes of intensive test preparation four days a week, until further notice.

Under President Bush's education initiative, hundreds of middle-class suburban schools like Wood, with a history of solid test scores, are at risk of academic failure. They must address nagging achievement gaps that cut along racial and socioeconomic lines or face the penalties and possible "restructuring" that the federal law prescribes.

The coming weeks will bring a battery of tests -- Virginia's Standards of Learning exams, the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System and the Maryland School Assessment -- that will determine whether schools and students have made "adequate yearly progress" under the law. Maryland's testing begins March 12.

I just discovered I'm reinventing the wheel here. I posted the original Washington Post article back in 2007. Read the statement of ethical conduct that Renee Foose signed.

By Renee A. Foose, Guest columnist

The battle wages on in the education-reform community about the best way to ensure that all students leave high school with the skills and knowledge needed to enter the global work force. This is an important discussion, especially with our national unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent.

As recently reported by Education Week's Caralee Adams, unemployment in the United States was three times as high for people without a high-school degree, compared to college graduates.

But, often lost in discussion about education reform is the picture of successful school programs or the picture of the high-performing American student.

High-school and college graduation rates are often discussed as one of the top measures of a successful education agenda designed to prepare students to succeed in life. At Baltimore County Public Schools, we were proud to announce that we had the fourth-highest graduation rate among the nation's 50 largest school districts.

Orlando Dunkman: Make him shoot, pass and of course dunk!

With nearly 78 percent of our students graduating, we had a higher percentage of graduates than the average for Maryland and a significantly higher percentage of graduates than the national average. Studies have shown that the knowledge and skills students need to be ready for college are the same as those needed for workplace readiness.

And, while graduation rates can tell us a lot about our school districts and their ability to move students into a post-high-school world, this statistic often tells us little about the college and workplace readiness of individual students.

College readiness indicators ΓΆ€” like academic achievement during middle school, high school grade-point average, course rigor and standardized test scores ΓΆ€” are much better ways to influence and understand college and workplace readiness of individual students.

As early as eighth grade, we can see that performance on middle-school tests is positively associated with becoming a high-performing student. For example, various studies using the National Educational Longitudinal Study database have found that taking algebra in the eighth grade and eighth-grade reading performance play a significant role in determining post-high-school educational outcomes.

In addition to middle-school performance, high-school GPA is also an excellent predictor of future success in college or work-force training, especially as a predictor of college GPA and graduation.

High-school course rigor is the most powerful predictor of academic achievement, high-school graduation and college enrollment for students. As educators, we should ensure that our students have access to intense academic programs in high school, such as honors and advanced courses that are benchmarked to international standards, including advanced-placement classes.

Of all the variables that had a significant relationship to college readiness, taking at least one AP exam, and scoring a three or higher, was the strongest predictor of being college- and career-ready.

Even if students do not earn college credit through the AP program, AP courses offer rigorous curricula that students need to prepare for any work after high school, whether it's college or work-training programs.

Course rigor is also measured by the highest level of math taken by high-school students. Taking a high-level math course is a consistent predictor of college readiness and post high-school work-place success. One study even found that students who completed a class in high-school math above algebra II were twice as likely to complete a bachelor's degree.

And, regardless of race or ethnicity, students who excel in rigorous courses tend to get better SAT scores, a proven indicator of post-high-school readiness.

Taken together, graduation rates and college-readiness indicators provide a more complete picture of how well we are doing as parents, teachers, administrators and Americans in preparing our children to enter the world ready to succeed.

This picture can provide us with a comprehensive understanding of our high-performing students, as well as which programs and initiatives are the most successful in helping us meet the goal of having a nation that allows each student to realize his full potential.

Renee A. Foose is deputy superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools and an applicant for superintendent of Orange County Public Schools.

— Renee Foose
Orlando Sentinel





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